"I am a WARRIOR..." by Savanna Tate
I am Savanna Tate and I am a warrior. Three and a half years ago my husband and I thought we were pregnant with baby number four and were surprised to find out we were actually pregnant with baby 4, 5 & 6....TRIPLETS! While the pregnancy was difficult, the early, 31 week delivery was unexpected and the 45 day NICU stay was emotional, the triplets marked the beginning of our family in its entirety, the Tate Party of 8. Having three older children made the transition that much easier. My husband and I felt like Oprah, handing out babies...”You get a baby and you get a baby....you all get babies!!!” It is hard to believe that having three infants at once while maintaining regular life for our older kids would be fun, but it was! Life with the babies was magic. My husband and I were in heaven with our completed family and we both took turns taking care of feeding, changing and holding the babies. We were a perfect team.
Around the 9 month mark, our baby of the triplets started getting sick. He was lethargic, was losing strength, no longer was sitting up and rolling over and was using his left hand less. We were consumed with worry. We took him to the pediatrician, the ER and another pediatrician....all saying he had a virus, but my gut was telling me this was wrong. After 2 weeks of stress and slowly getting worse, we took Hayes to the Primary Childrens hospital ER. The doctors listened to our concerns and did a CT scan. When they returned with an answer, our world was shattered. Hayes had a brain tumor the size of a lemon in his teeny brain. My 10 month old baby had cancer. It was the scariest, most devastating discovery. The next morning he had surgery and soon after, Hayes started chemo. After 6 rounds of extremely dangerous doses of chemo, a stem cell transplant, 8 surgeries, countless blood transfusions and 175 overnight stays in the hospital, Hayes went into remission. We had experienced so much in that 7 months. Our 5 other kids had lived life without the consistency of both parents and normalcy and they had to live with the worry for their baby brother. So when he’s went into remission and he was home we treasured it! Every moment we spend together and we planned a trip to Disneyland. His obviously had never been to the beach so we were so excited to take him and let him fill his toes in the sand. So after three months of being home it was November and has had his strength back so we took him to California. We took all six of our kids and it was just magical! Everything was perfect. I know that sounds so not realistic, but for this trip it was. It was like for the first time he’s wasn’t connected to cords. For the first time he was able to see the world outside of his hospital room. And for the first time we were able to be a family again. On our drive home is when he started to throw up again. And I just knew something was wrong. We took him into the ER and they did a scan and found that the cancer had returned and this time it was in operable and in a location that was really reducing his quality of life. It was heartbreaking!
The amazing thing was that we had just gone on this perfect trip. It was a gift! Truly memories that I will treasure for the rest my life. But hearing that your child does not have a chance anymore is the worst possible thing you can hear. It broke me completely and I am still healing from it and I don’t know if I ever will completely. When he’s passed away in my arms I made a promise that I would never let his memory disappear. So all of our charity work all of our work through his stuff and all of our work for childhood cancer is for him. I will never stop fighting for him. I may not have warpaint on and I may not be the strongest person physically you’ve ever seen. But I can assure you that nothing will ever get in the way of me fighting for these kids. And nothing will ever let me forget Hayes. I am a warrior.