My name is Annie Lynn. I am a children’s songwriter, and I write curriculum-based songs for schools, choirs and non-profits. I recorded the song “The Key To My Heart” with my son, Alex, when he was 10 years old. Alex is an amazing kid. When he was 14, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and went through some painful testing and treatments, including taking one anti-cancer drug that was supposed to help him heal. When he was 15, he ended up having three hospitalizations, a month of home TPN, and two surgeries to remove a foot of small intestine and his appendix at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (Best kids hospital in the world!!!). It was a difficult and scary time for him (and for us as well). Alex’s room had a big glass window, and it faced the oncology ward and looked into all rooms that had curtains open. He spent two weeks with a naso-gastric tube in his nose, unable to eat, waiting for his second surgery. During this time, a change came over Alex. Instead of becoming depressed, he became even more determined to get better. He had been cheered up earlier in the week by a visiting therapy dog, and he got the idea in his head that he wanted to cheer up other children as well. He asked me to go home and get his beloved puppets; A chicken named Phil, and a houndog named Cujo. Once he had Phil and Cujo, and pulled his i.v. pole and tubes over to the little sofa in front of his window. He saw a little boy holding a Teddy bear, who was being comforted by his mom on her lap. He looked very sad and scared. Alex got down behind the sofa, and started doing puppet shows for the six or seven children who had their curtains open. I watched as smiles spread down the row of rooms, and children pointed to the puppets. After the show, Alex popped up and waved to the other children in the oncology ward, tubes and all. They clapped, and then my heart melted some more. The scared little boy took his Teddy bear, and made it wave its arm up and down, gesturing hello to Alex. The next day, a nurse from the oncology ward stopped by Alex’s room in the surgical ward, and she said she had had several children ask when the next showing of “Phil and Cujo” would be… Well, you didn’t have to ask Alex twice….he put those shows on for five days, before his surgery, bringing smiles to children who were sicker than he was. This fact was not lost on Alex, and he thought a lot about that. Two days after his second surgery, he wheeled himself downstairs to guest D.J. at the radio station studio at Children’s Hospital, and told funny stories and jokes, as “D.J. Semi-Colon” and took calls from children in their rooms, who wanted to know all about Phil and Cujo, and Alex. Alex had words of encouragement for the kids, and his positive attitude helped other children laugh. I was so proud of his strength, and his commitment to make others feel better even though he was also sick.
I asked Alex if he wanted to submit his song to Songs for Life 2015, and he said ABSOLUTELY! He wants all sick children to remember this… “Don’t give up trying to get better, and hold on to positive thoughts, because the minute you give up trying, you could actually have been two minutes away from getting better.” Alex would like to dedicate this song to current and past pediatric cancer patients, as well as all those suffering from cancer. Best wishes and prayers to all, Annie Lynn and Alex Wilczewski