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Christmas in November

November 7, 2009

Seven weeks before Christmas, a new movie version of A Christmas Carol, a computer-animated feature starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, arrived in theatres nationwide. But a modern day Christmas carol was taking place in South Lyon, Michigan, in the home of a five-year-old boy in hospice, with a very short time to live.

             After a tear-filled Halloween weekend, Noah Biorkman’s parents, Diana and Scott, decided that instead of waiting for Noah to die without him celebrating Christmas, they would bring the holiday to him early in November. They would put up a Christmas tree and called the family to gather soon and asked their friends to send their son a Christmas card. A friend of theirs created a Facebook page called “Christmas Cards for Noah Biorkman,” with this description, “Christmas will come early for a five year old Michigan boy this year. Noah Biorkman is battling cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Noah's family is celebrating Christmas next weekend (November 13th and 14th) and Noah loves Christmas cards. Noah's mom is asking for Christmas cards.” Linda Lee from a local radio station, WYCD, put a link to Noah’s carepage site and was told by Scott and Diana that they wanted the world to know about pediatric cancer and specifically about Neuroblastoma cancer which had afflicted Noah.

            The Tuesday after, Diana wrote of the “Inspiration of One Little Man,” that “Scott and I are shocked at the outpouring of love, prayers, support, and compassion that all of you have shown over the past four days alone.” They received 64 Christmas cards and one package and the Post Office supervisor, Sandy, told them the entire post office was stunned by the “compassion shown from people all over the country.”

Noah and Diana decorated the Christmas tree and put Santas in the windowsill and read every card together. Noah’s dad, Scott, lifted the boy up as high as he could to put a star on the top of the tree. The family was offered clowns, Santas, Christmas Carolers, and “even a snow delivery” to make sure that “Noah had a white Christmas” to which she replied, “I said that we are happy with cards!”

Diana wrote in her Carepages site that she and Scott were humbled that they were able to teach others about pediatric cancer through Noah’s story and thanked everyone for their support. “Knowing there isn't anything that you can do to save your child,” Diana wrote, “is the most difficult thing to live through. Giving him Christmas is a great gift that Scott and I can give Noah.”

The next day, Wednesday November 4th, brought 416 more cards from the Post Office and packages and cards from a local school. A camera crew from Detroit’s Channel 4 arrived at their door and produced a story about this Christmas miracle of love and compassion. Natalie Sentz was the reporter and agreed with Diana that Noah was “fifty years old trapped in a five-year-old body.” She reported that “the 5-year-old said an angel figurine ornament was his favorite because it reminded him of where he’ll soon be. ‘In heaven, and I’m going to be an angel,’ Noah said.” The reporter wrote, “Diana said she is asking that instead of sending gifts to Noah, send $1 in a card to the family and they will donate it to the University Of Michigan neuroblastoma research center and the Michigan Make A Wish Chapter.” (You can see the full story on www.clickondetroit.com and search for Noah Biorkman.) 

At night, the family had a scare when Noah’s nose started bleeding heavily and after getting instructions from Dr. Pituch and doing what he said for the next hour, the bleeding finally stopped. They knew that the next day, Noah was to get his blood count checked and they prayed he wouldn’t need anymore blood. He was already getting 80mg of Methadone every six hours which somehow, Diana wrote, “allows him to walk and play.”

Diana and Scott felt that it was worth pumping up Noah with Methadone and steroids because every single day Noah got to live and each and every moment they got to spend with their little boy was an extraordinary gift.

But that night, Noah’s nose started bleeding again at midnight and his mom finally got it to stop but later that night, the bleeding didn’t stop. “When he woke up,” Diana wrote, “he had blood down the side of his face, a pool of blood was on his shoulder on his shirt, and blood was on the pillow and bed.” His grandmother, who handles Noah’s bleeding better than Diana, rode with him all the way to the clinic, with a washcloth over his nose, putting pressure to stop the blood from flowing.

At the clinic, his blood platelet count was 5 compared to a normal count of 150-300, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying his hospital room decorated for Christmas or his nurse’s Christmas stocking that she gave him or the Christmas celebration that the staff of doctors, nurses, and attendants got to share with him. He was tired but appreciative and looking forward to the Christmas cards and presents waiting for him at his home. Christmas will come early for a five year old Michigan boy this year. Noah Biorkman is battling cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Noah's family is celebrating Christmas next weekend (November 13th and 14th) and Noah loves Christmas cards. Noah's mom is asking for Christmas cards for her son.

Please take the time to send a card or letter to:

Noah Biorkman
3480 Petoskey Way
Milford, MI 48380

(ADDRESS CHANGE! SEE ABOVE!)

(If you already sent your cards to the previous address that was listed (in South Lyon), Noah will still receive it. There is so much incoming mail that the family wants to even it out.) (read less)

            When Noah got home, “the chaos of cards and packgages began,” according to his mom. 9 people helped read what amounted to more than 2600 Christmas cards and that was just on Thursday. The mailman said that in his 31 years working for the U.S. Post Office, he had never seen anything like this. The cards and packages and toys filled his mom’s entire living room. And on the “Christmas Cards for Noah” Facebook site, thousands of messages from people all over the world greeted Noah, wishing him a Merry Christmas.

            I myself received notes on my blogsite from a woman in the Netherlands, a man from Maine, and Gillian Larson from last season’s Survivor series, wishing Noah best wishes for Christmas. On the Facebook site, as of November 7th in the afternoon, over 16,000 Christmas cards had been sent over the Internet to Noah. Within a twenty minute span in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, heartfelt and personal Christmas wishes arrived from Traverse City, Florida, Northern California, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Australia, Louisiana, Canada, and Serbia, just to name a few places.

The messages varied but the desire to make a little boy’s Christmas special didn’t. Andie Wyrick wrote, “Little sweetpea, you are a rockstar. Be looking for a BIG box from houston, TX. We love you and pray for you. Big hugs and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” “It is Christmas in the heart,” wrote Terri Shermatero-Keesling wrote, “that puts Christmas in the air! Merry Christmas Noah!” Robert Reid wrote, MERRY XMAS FROM SCOTLAND,HOPE SANTA IS GOOD TO YOU,YOU ARE IN OUR THOUGHTS,GOD BLESS XX”

Astonishingly, as of Monday, November 9th, Noah had received over 20,000 Christmas cards, 10,000 on Saturday alone, and received over 40,000 Christmas wishes on the Facebook site.

            Santa came on a fire truck to Noah's house on Friday night and went to Noah's room and helped him open cards and presents. But Santas from all over the world were spreading Christmas cheer to a little boy in a house in South Lyon, Michigan. There was no way not to feel the overwhelming spirit of love and compassion and cheer and the simple joy of helping someone who needed it.

            As I sat at home, reading the Facebook cards, it was hard not to imagine the smiles on the faces of Noah and his parents and grandparents and entire family as they read, one by one, the incredible world-wide spread of joy that was reaching their home. I could imagine the scene from It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey felt the phenomenal spirit of all of those around him who loved him while he bathed in the exhilaration of life.

Noah and his mom and dad were feeling that love, in the early days of November as the temperature outside reached 68 degrees fahrenheit. Noah didn’t need a snow delivery or a trip to the mall.

Noah’s life might have been short but because of his parents and extended family and friends and all the thousands of newfound friends all over the world, his life has certainly been blessed.

Like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, Noah will be earning his wings.

         

 

 

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