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Notable Minnesota Moms: Wendy Berezovsky; Sweet Dreams for Kids


By Wendy Berezovsky

When our daughter, Chaya Dalya, was born four years ago, her upper lip looked puffy.  At first they thought it was from the delivery but as the swelling did not go down, our panic began to rise.  We brought in an ear, nose, and throat doctor and our newborn baby had her first MRI at five days old.  It took a while to get a conclusive diagnosis but when Chaya Dalya, was two-and-a-half months old, our worst fear was confirmed.  I still remember the day the ENT called (our oldest child's birthday), "It looks like cancer," he said.  "It is a very rare type so we have to send it out for confirmation."  We had high hopes that this was all just a big mistake, but it was soon confirmed that OUR BRAND NEW BABY WAS BORN WITH CANCER. Her cancer had a name: Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Our lives completely changed.  It was turned upside down. We were now completely devoted to saving our baby's life.  A life she just started.  Our other two children, Reuven, 3, and Eliana, 18 months, had to be away from their mom, dad, and new baby sister, but were lucky to have my wonderful mom and brother as their caretakers who tried to keep their lives as normal as possible.  

Our new lives included blood work, appointments, scans, test after test, many of which I had never heard of before.  Chaya Dalya went through a chemo regimen that they thought was helping but then realized it was not having as much effect as they wanted.  They scheduled her first surgery for December 30, 2005.   She endured more chemo and radiation.  No matter how difficult everything was, I just kept thinking, "WE HAVE TO DO THIS TO SAVE HER."  Time kept moving, our other kids were growing up before our eyes and we were missing things. Our little innocent baby was missing the beginning of life that she deserved. Instead of being spoiled with love at home with her family, she was being poked and prodded, and had to undergo endless tests, endure chemo and radiation, and see different doctors day and night.  Things progressed with many ups and downs, and then in June of 2006, scans picked up something suspicious.  Words coming from our ENT that I never want to hear again, "Prepare yourself," he told us. He let us know what other doctors were saying, "Leave this poor girl alone, there is nothing else that can be done."  With tears rolling down my face, I said to the doctor, "No, you need to do something. We just want her here with us and we will do ANYTHING to make that happen." 

June 30, 2006 she had her second surgery to remove the residual tumor.  It is now March 2009, and we are so very thankful.  We pray a lot. She is truly a miracle.  The fear will never leave me and we know she has a long road ahead.  We are always thankful...for the little things in life, the things most people take for granted.  We appreciate everything.  Our world will never be how it was, but we are all different people now.  We have learned a lot.  I have learned a lot from our two older kids who have been so giving, loving, and caring through this whole nightmare.  They were forced to adapt to a different life; forced to hear words like chemo, radiation, scans, blood work, and pokes...all in reference to their baby sister.  Our baby, Chaya Dalya, was forced to be injected with chemotherapy--poison--to save her life; and radiation---from which we did not know what the side effects would be; and tests, scans, blood work...learning very quickly of a life filled with doctors and hospital stays. But she is with us and we are blessed.

From our experience with Chaya Dalya, my idea for Sweet Dreams for Kids came to be. When children are staying at a hospital, it is important that they are able to wear pajamas that are appealing as well as comfortable. And for parents, it is hard enough to see your child so ill, and the regular hospital pajamas can be a constant reminder. It is physically and mentally helpful for both parent and child for the child to be able to wear fun, cute, comfortable, colorful pajamas during their hospital stay.

After speaking to about 100 Hospital staff members at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, I met Dr. Glenn Billman, Medical Director for Patient Safety, who became a wonderful supporter of Sweet Dreams for Kids. Clothing company, Hanna Andersson, jumped on board and was the first one to donate 35 pairs of pajamas. Since then we have been growing steadily.

Sweet Dreams for Kids is currently under the non-profit status of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. And Hanna Andersson is an official partner who has made a commitment to donate on a regular basis. We are working hard to spread the word for all the deserving parents and kids. My dream is to have all Children's Hospitals nationwide filled with bright and cheery pajamas for kids to wear and feel good in, and for parents to be able to feel good that their child has some kind of normalcy despite what they are going through. I hope to get many more businesses, schools, and families involved to help make this dream a reality. And while helping parents and kids during their hospital stay, I hope to teach others how good it feels to give back and how important it is to help others by giving a little extra sunshine.

Please check out our website at sweetdreamsforkids.org. Or feel free to email me at wendy@sweetdreamsforkids.org for more information, or if you are a parent of a child going through a sickness and just need some support.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, Feature Stories, MomShare,

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