On July 28, 2009 Maisie Jo Webb was diagnosed with cancer. She had a brain tumor named ependymoma. One was automatically assume that this was the worst day of my life and they would have been right until August 19, 2009. On that day I had to leave a hysterically crying little five year old boy on his first day of kindergarten so I could take his sister six hours away to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital looking for a cure. Walking away from my son was honestly one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. It was hard living day to day life without him there to play with his sister. Maisie felt the hole of Liam being absent as well. On our many trips to the hospital she would choose a stuffed animal and name it Bubba to take with us. She would say “Bubba is going with us today!” “Bubba” made many trips to the hospital with us. Maisie would hold her Bubba while getting chemo, scans, and surgery. The worst days though were when the real Bubba was there and then had to leave. Liam would make the six hour trip to Memphis every single weekend and experience these emotional ups and downs more than anyone else in our family. We had one set of grandparents that would bring him for the weekend and then the next weekend the other set would bring him. It was such an excitingly happy day on Friday when he would arrive but Sundays were horrible. On Sundays he would have to leave around noon and the kids could feel the time nearing. They just knew it was coming. On Sundays we would say our dreaded goodbyes. Maisie and I just so happened to have an apartment overlooking the parking lot which gave us the chance to wave and blow kisses until the car eventually disappeared and then we would fall apart. We would often sit on the couch crying and hugging until Maisie would fall asleep. I also heard many times that Liam would cry himself to sleep on the way home as well. Most people just do not understand that cancer is a sickness that hurts the whole family. I had no idea the impact cancer would have on the healthy sibling until I seen it with my own eyes. Eventually though Maisie was healthy enough to go home and we all got back to normal. We would go to Memphis every three months for scans and many other tests to see if the chemo had left any lasting marks on her development. One day we were sitting in the psychology clinic and a little girl was there with an interesting looking camouflage doll. I struck up a conversation with the girl’s grandmother because my little brother was about to deploy with the Marine Corps overseas and I thought it would be great if my nephew could have one. The lady gave us some information and my mom went home and ordered one for my nephew. That was the end of the story until for a year. I had just begun a new job and was going through a divorce. One of my coworkers had a son deploying and I told her about the dolls and said I would get her the information from my mom so her grandson could have a doll too. While talking my mom and I were joking about how Maisie needed a doll on the weekends she went to her dad’s house because she often missed me and would call crying to come home. Then mom said “Wouldn’t it have been nice if Maisie and Liam would have had a doll like that while she was in Memphis?” The idea was amazing. Liam could have benefitted from having a mommy doll to just hug when he was missing his mommy and Maisie would have loved to have a real Bubba doll to take to the hospital. Now that is our mission. The kids can be cured of cancer at St. Jude’s but homesickness is a horrible epidemic there. I truly believe this doll could have helped us so much on Sundays when we had to say our goodbyes. I know there are other families in a similar situation that may not even have the chance to see some of their families for years on end. Some treatment programs are three years long. It was hard being away from my healthy child for a week at a time and I imagine it has to be horrible for the families separated for months and not having the ability to hug their mommy or daddy every night. This could easily end up being anyone. Childhood cancer does not discriminate. Please think about this tonight when you tuck your own children in or hug your niece, nephew, or grandchild. What would it be like to not have the ability to hug them tomorrow? Would you want them to have a doll such as this to help them deal with being away from you? The dolls are free, but donations are accepted.