Pager helps boy battle cancer -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pager helps boy battle cancer

April 4, 2004

Tifton- Nine year old Joe William Sheffield seldom misses a shot when he plays basketball. He literally jumps at the chance to shoot around with his father since being diagnosed with lymphoma.

"He had a swollen lymph node under his arm back in August, and that was removed and turned out negative, and it came back. They did another operation and looked at it again, and this time it did show that it was cancer," recalls his father Joe Sheffield.

But the Sheffields say they're blessed to have a church family that stepped right in to help just as soon as they heard the news.

"They have a program called the prayer payer which is a little beeper that he's wearing right now that vibrates every time somebody calls this 800 number to let him know that someone is praying for him," Mr. Sheffield explains.

"It makes me feel good when they're thinking of me," adds Joe William.

And that's proven to be quite often. During our interview with the Sheffields, his prayer pager was constantly buzzing in background.

"16," the nine year old reads as he checks the number of pages he's received.

"It had twenty earlier and it's always saying overflow," admits his mother Susan Sheffield.

Most of the time the numeric message was 733, the code for "praying for you."

"I think I cleaned it out about an hour ago. It's constantly going off," his father says. "We've gotten calls from all over the world and all over the United States."

The family has to replace the battery at least once a week, but they don't mind. They say it's given their son the encouragement to fight his illness and the willpower to reclaim his childhood.

Though he loves sports, Joe William isn't an aspiring athlete. He wants to be a pharmacist.

"Since I've been through everything and had a bunch of medications I could tell everybody how it works."

Topping his list of favorite prescriptions, a prayer pager for other children battling cancer just like him.

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