The Bynum Family
“How old does a baby have to be to remember their mother?”
Those were the first words out of Michelle Tull Bynum’s mouth after receiving a late-stage cancer diagnosis. In that moment, her worry was singularly focused on her son, Reid, who was only 14 months old.
Michelle and her husband, Brad Bynum, discovered Wonders & Worries, and quickly pulled in Michelle’s parents, LaWann and Frank Tull. LaWann and Frank became very involved with caretaking and providing extra support for the family during Michelle’s treatments.
“We felt inadequate dealing with how best to comfort our grandchildren at their level of understanding,” said LaWann.
“Finding Wonders & Worries was like someone throwing our family a life ring in the midst of a storm in a horrific nightmare.”
Reid and his cousins, Bryce (7) and Kendall (4), all received Wonders & Worries support. The three children considered Wonders & Worries a safe place to talk, play and share feelings. Using bald dolls, child life staff explained Michelle’s treatments and helped them understand her cancer diagnosis.
Michelle worried about trying to explain to Reid what was happening to his mommy. In particular, she knew that he might be afraid of her without hair. But when it happened, Reid looked at Michelle and tapped her shiny head, repeating, “Bald, bald, bald,” – without fear.
LaWann and Frank felt that Wonders & Worries’ services gave their family peace and professional support to deal with tough questions that their grandson and his little cousins could understand.
“As grandparents, we could see what a difference their trips to Wonders & Worries made,” said LaWann.
“It amazed us all that the program was free, and not a luxury service limited to those that could afford it.”
Michelle and her sister, Tiffany, shared the same sentiment, believing that the children’s time with Wonders & Worries made a difference in their outlook and calmed their fears of the unknown.
At the age of 38, Michelle Bynum passed away due to breast cancer. “We will never forget Wonders & Worries’ child life staff making a last trip to the hospital,” recalled LaWann and Frank. “They brought canvas and finger-paints so that Michelle and the children could all have their handprints together forever.” This priceless keepsake is one more way Reid will remember his mother.
“A happy parent is only as happy as their most unhappy child,” added LaWann. “When our family faced this crisis, it had a shotgun effect touching every aspect of our lives. We needed one another then and now.
Wonders & Worries became an integral support to help the children, and therefore helped our entire family. Thank you.”
LaWann and Frank Tull are part of The Pride Grandparents giving group. Learn more.