JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) — July is Sarcoma Awareness month.
Sarcoma is a form of cancer that is seen mostly in children. According to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, sarcoma is made up of many “sub-types” because it can arise from a variety of tissue structures.
A Fultondale mother who lost her son to this deadly disease 5 months ago, said she hopes to one day help other families who are going through what she did.
17-year-old Shelton Waldrop died of cancer in February 2019 after fighting his battle with sarcoma for 3 years.
Shelton’s mother, Robby Foster, makes it a priority to visit her son’s grave and keep his spirit alive in her daily life.
“Even if that’s just his grave and he’s up there, I can talk to him anywhere but I still come to take care of him,” said Foster.
Shelton lost his battle to sarcoma, a disease that has a low mortality rate and that is commonly hidden deep in the body like bones or tissues.
According to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, there are about 15,000 cases diagnosed each year and nearly 6,000 people die each year from this disease.
“Not everyone is married and can quit their job to stay with their child. There are many people that when their child gets sick and they’re at the hospital with them, they lose their job, lose their home, and lose everything,” said Foster.
Shelton also had a strong relationship with the Leeds Fire Department when he became a junior firefighter. During Shelton’s funeral, Leeds and other first departments gave him a proper firefighter funeral.
“Shelton was like my little brother. He was always going to make you laugh, he loved to catch up and know what’s going on and being a firefighter was one of the most important things to him outside his faith,” said Josh McDaniel, Irondale Fire Chief and former Leeds firefighter.
Shelton’s hard-fought battle is still remembered by those he left behind, so this sarcoma awareness month, his friends and family are thinking of him and other families who are going through this.
“Just thinking of other parents dealing with these things, things Shelton’s parents had to go through that may not have the support system they have. Just hoping to bring awareness to more people,” said McDaniel.
“It’s heartbreaking to pray for your child to pass away and not suffer, as a mother. I have 17 sweet years of Shelton,” said Foster.
Shelton’s mom said eventually she wants to get involved in helping other families who have to use hospice for children. She said she was told she needs to wait a year after Shelton’s passing before getting involved but she says she will continue to honor his memory.
Foster said their church, Forestdale Freewill Baptist Church has a youth outreach program on the last Sunday of every month that is in honor of Shelton.