In July of 2007, I took a ferry from Seattle across the water to Bainbridge Island, and drove to the beach where I met one of my best friends, Carin, and her 2-year old son Ben. We walked along the water, and threw rocks into the waves, and looked for little sand crabs, and ate grapes and crackers, and soaked up the glorious summer sunshine. Ben was running, and climbing, and laughing. It was a perfect day.

Looking back on that afternoon, our ignorance is obvious – blatantly flashing like a neon sign, humming with a warning we could not hear – as no one could have ever expected what was to come. For a few short weeks later, Ben was diagnosed with an aggressive, high-risk form of cancer called neuroblastoma. And since that day, Ben and his family have walked through nothing short of hell on earth.

While thousands have prayed, Ben has endured surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplants, oral drugs, experimental antibodies – not to mention excruciating pain, vomiting, and the side effects of atrociously harsh narcotics. Jeff and Carin have watched their baby writhe in pain, with no power to do anything about it, or to explain to him “why.” They have continually trusted their son’s safety, health, and comfort to the doctors and nurses – all the while living in fear of what the final outcome might be.

Last night brought some unspeakably heartbreaking news. Ben has four new tumors – three on his brain, and one on his liver. Despite every effort over the past 14 months, the cancer is spreading.

News like this is like… a fistful of broken glass. A fish-hook in the side. An anvil on the chest. And it takes me to a very raw and ugly place – one in which I doubt prayer, and I doubt God. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. He’s just a little boy – barely 3-years old. He should be trick-or-treating tonight. I cannot stand it. Is there anything worse – anything more senseless – than the suffering of a child?

When Ben was baptized as an infant, his mom, beautiful Carin, stood in front of our church congregation and read the scripture that they were claiming for his life: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Who knew that Ben would actually be faced with all of these things within the first 3 years of his life. Now I am clinging to the promise that none of these horrors can separate him from the love of God… but where is this love?

I know I’ve asked for this before, but please join me in praying for Ben, his parents Jeff and Carin, and his little brother Ryan.


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  1. giving up slowly on October 31, 2008 at 9:13 AM

    WOW. This is heart-wrenching. I can’t stop crying… Thanks for sharing Annie. Ben and his family will definitely be in my prayers.

  2. Greta on October 31, 2008 at 9:20 AM

    Oh Annie… I saw the updated blog last night. :( This is utterly heartbreaking. I don’t understand it either.

    God, please, please, please help. Just help, God.

  3. nicola on October 31, 2008 at 9:54 AM

    words actually fail me.
    i’ve worked in with cancer kids at camp for 7 years and it doesn’t get easier. ever.
    especially when its a little boy we know and love.
    i was playing with him on monday. aside from the feeding tube you wouldn’t know anything was wrong.

    cancer is evil. as much as i find it hard to believe that prayer works right now i am down on my knees crying out.

  4. Kelli on October 31, 2008 at 10:19 AM

    Having a little boy that just turned 3, my heart aches for this family. I cannot imagine having to face this awful reality.

    I will pray for Ben and his family. Even though my prayer may be small, hopefully it will be the same prayer that many others will offer. A prayer of hope, comfort, peace…

    I feel heart broken. This is so sad!

  5. Deborah Barnett on October 31, 2008 at 3:11 PM

    “Is there anything worse – anything more senseless – than the suffering of a child?”

    That’s exactly why I do what I do… for the millions of children going hungry tonight. For the millions of children left orphaned thanks to the haneous evil in the world. For the every Mom who has to watch their child suffer… and has no resources or ability to save them… and can only watch in agony.

    It’s why I do what I do.

    Praying for Ben’s family.

  6. Lyla on November 3, 2008 at 8:00 AM

    I am glad that Ben was born to a family that loves him very, very much and is doing everything they can to help him. I don’t even know the family, but this makes me cry every time I read it. (Which I’ve done multiple times over the past couple of days.) They’ll all certainly be in my prayers as will the doctors who care for him.

  7. aeinfeld on November 5, 2008 at 2:26 PM


    Thanks for your words regarding Ben. I admire your ability to articulate even in the most difficult times…

    It will serve as hope to others who also are going through tragedies and sorrows.

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