Gold is an important color to 4-year-old Silas Edenfield in many ways. He knows it’s the color of childhood cancer awareness — something with which he’s become very familiar having fought it for most of his life.
But gold is far more than just a color for the brave young man. It’s also, in his own words, the color of Heaven, where he will receive his new body and meet Jesus.
Silas’s touching story may have begun in Lyons, but the young warrior’s selfless message and bravery have quickly spread around the region — and even the world — thanks to family and complete strangers who want to show support.
In February of 2012, Silas was diagnosed with stage-four Hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer that affects one million children in the United States. Unfortunately the cancer had already begun to spread when it was caught and after a year-long battle doctors have exhausted most of their options and have given the young man only months to live.
Since then, parents Jessica and Archie Edenfield and Silas’s three brothers have been extremely supportive. Treatments have not had a lasting effect on the cancer and chemo has taken it’s toll on the young man physically — but has yet to dampen his spirit, a spirit that comes from inside but is made strong by a group of family members and literally thousands of strangers who want to let him know that he isn’t in this battle alone.
Among his family is great-aunt Susan Keene, a courthouse employee and Brantley resident, who has worked tirelessly to spread Silas’s message of awareness in the community she calls home.
Gold ribbons and gold fingernails were the young boy’s request, and many at the Brantley County Courthouse have already responded with gold bows on the doors and paint on their nails — both men and women alike. Keene said that support in the community for her nephew has grown tremendously with residents and even deputies painting their nails to support Silas.
God and family have played a major roll in keeping Silas’s heart strong during his battle, but also from another less likely source — sea turtles.
During chemo, Silas began to request the “sea turtle room” to help take his mind off of the treatments. In time, the creature became his favorite animal. Sea turtles and other turtle-related trinkets now fill Silas’s bedroom thanks to caring people in the community. But perhaps the most touching gesture came from the Jekyll Island Authority’s Sea Turtle Center who named one of their own patients, an injured loggerhead turtle, after Silas.
The turtle, which was released in late April during the Tybee Turtle Trot, was a special tribute by the employees of the center who were also moved by the Silas’s story.
Though weak, Silas was able to make the trip to meet the turtle sharing his name before it was released.
Meanwhile, communities like Brantley have continued to take action to bring out the gold to support Silas’s brave journey. But for Silas, it’s not about him. Because his hope is that it will spread awareness and hope for the many other children like him afflicted with the powerful disease.
Thanks to websites like CaringBridge.org/visit/silasedenfield and Facebook.com/prayingforsilas, thousands of strangers have also begun to help spread the message while receiving regular updates from the family on Silas’s condition. Those close to Silas have been amazed at the support and his Aunt Susan said that they wanted to thank all those who have worked so hard to keep a smile on the young man’s face with their prayers — both abroad and in Brantley County.
Silas’s mother said that he is not afraid of what is to come in his life and that he is excited for his future, regardless of the outcome.
In that way, he shares much in common with his tough-shelled namesake turtle.
Because someday, Silas, too, hopes to have a mended body — whether it be on Earth or in Heaven.