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A Mother's Letter of Appreciation

Dear Nevada,

I am writing to say thank you. Thank you for vaccinating your children. Thank you for protecting our community.

I have been a nurse since 2001, and I cannot overstate the importance of vaccines. Horrible diseases like polio have largely become a thing of the past because of the strides we have made in science and medicine. And while we are lucky to live during a time when we do not see the impact of these diseases, we cannot be lax in protecting ourselves and our communities against viruses and diseases.

But I am writing as more than a nurse; I am also writing as the mother of a 4-year-old son with cancer. My boy, Logan, was diagnosed with high-risk, stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that most often affects young children, in April 2015. We have had to travel to Oakland for treatment, which has included six rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney, stem cell harvest and transplant, radiation therapy and immunotherapy — all over the course of 14 months. While he was undergoing treatment, he was particularly vulnerable to viruses like the flu. Our family and anyone who wanted to visit Logan was required to get the flu vaccine for his protection.

It has been a long and difficult road, but I’m happy to say that, as of June 2016, his scans show no signs of disease. That, of course, is a huge relief. However, Logan’s immune system is still weakened due to the treatments he received, so his body will not respond to the vaccine and, in fact, it could actually hurt him. He wears a mask to filter the air he breathes — we carry lots of hand sanitizer! His hair has grown, his color is back, but he remains unvaccinated for the time being. That is why we rely on other families to vaccinate their children against the flu — because right now, you are a line of defense for my son.

So please take advantage of this amazing resource we all have to protect ourselves and others from the flu. And if you have already, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the village that is helping to keep my baby safe.

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith is a registered nurse and mother who lives in Reno, Nevada.