Here’s our first guest, Rob Biagi. Rob is the life of the party and a Leukemia survivor. In 1997 Rob trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and gained the confidence to do what he does now! Rob is married to Kathleen and they have three kids, Matt, Juli, and Natalie. Since 2004, the Biagi Family has been traveling the United States ministering to children and families through Rob’s music. Rob’s ministry is marked by high-energy worship concerts and dynamic teaching.
Not only is Rob a Leukemia survivor, his daughter Natalie is as well. We asked Rob: How did the church minister to your family when your daughter went through the diagnosis and treatment of Leukemia? Here’s what he said:
When our [then 2-year-old] daughter Natalie was diagnosed with Leukemia, we were blessed with dozens of local church people who offered to give our other kids rides, bring us hot meals, and even help us analyze the huge medical bills for possible errors and over-billing. We were emotionally drained and overwhelmed dealing with a suffering child, but we were so grateful for the generous offers to help. Every suffering family’s wishes and needs are different, but we loved the chart that told us who was bringing dinner and who was taking Juli to soccer practice. But – as you would imagine, what meant the most to us [and the heart of God, I'm sure] was that children and families were fervently praying for Natalie’s healing, for peace and rest in our home, and that God would be glorified through the storm. By the way – Natalie is now a healthy, happy 7-year-old who is “Leukemia-free”! She has been in remission since December, 2009! Praise God!
And what would your daughter say meant a lot to her in terms of how the church took care of her?
Natalie was only 2 when it started, so she doesn’t remember much about that time. I think her best memory is riding on the merry-go-round at our local shopping center. Someone gave her all the free tickets she wanted, which was a great gift for a preschooler! Our family still looks back from time to time at all the quilts, cards, and photos that people sent to us. We want to remember how the people of God grabbed a hold of us so tightly during that time, and we are teaching Natalie to be grateful.
And finally, what advice do you have for people who want to reach out to a family that is struggling through the sever illness of a child?
People with gravely ill children are in a whirlwind. You can’t remember what day it is, what bills are due, or anything. But – interestingly, you quickly memorize the names of your kid’s chemo medicines…the churches and KidMin people we know did WONDERFULLY drawing close to us, but not being “over-helpful.” There’s a line. Well-wishers should make a couple of offers to help, then back off a little and just do something that needs doing [house cleaning, checking the medical billing for errors or overcharges, making a meals chart, etc.] Handwritten notes with Scriptures mean a lot, too. Be careful about cliches and re-writing biblical doctrine in an attempt to comfort, like: “God trusts you to handle this trial” or “God won’t give you more than you can bear,” or the most hurtful one: “You are poisoning your child with chemo” [We know you mean well, but when you're sleep-deprived and your kid is suffering, your patience can wear real thin.] Mostly we remember the sweet hearts of the people who prayed for Natalie and us. God showered us with love through the saints, and we are so, so grateful.
Thank you, Rob for sharing about your family’s journey through Leukemia.