I’ve written this blog post a couple of times, each from different perspectives, but after this weekend, I have a whole new clarity about it. This past weekend, I faced something that I never had before…the potential to be swallowed alive by a massive hurricane all with the responsibility of having three children under my care, on my own, without a partner, without a husband.
It was really intimidating, but I’m so thankful for my family. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. We all stayed together and rode out the storm at their house and ate waaayyy too much, enjoyed a few games, laughed a lot and stressed some too. Hurricane Irma left all of Florida guessing what would happen and what strength it would bring. In the end, we’re all good. My home has power and little damage and my family’s home has little damage and never lost power.
Through all of it though, I had moments when I would have flashes to, what would I do if: “there was a tornado”, “there was flooding”, or “I had to protect the kids against …….”. It’s a little panicky to think that you have three kids lives in your hands and the choices that you, alone, make, may really affect their lives tremendously.
This is nothing compared to what some parents have to deal with. Some parents are sitting by bedsides praying for one more year, one more month, one more day to hold their child. The pain that a parent feels when they are told that their child has cancer has got to be the most excruciating pain that anyone could go through. Forget my divorce…I would give that any day to make sure that my children will be healthy for the rest of their lives.
With that said, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In case you were unaware here are a few facts about what families and loved ones are facing every day:
* Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. ~Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/childhood
* Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. ~Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/childhood
* One in 285 children, in the U.S., will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old. ~Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014, American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsﬁgures2014/
There are so many other facts, but the biggest is that this is an underfunded issue. Our future, our children, are being underfunded more than many other cancers out there. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it came full circle for me this weekend because the hurricane was a bleak reminder of how quickly life can flash before your eyes.
Being prepared for something (aka the hurricane) is similar (only slightly) in fashion to the importance in helping to fund childhood cancer initiatives and cures in advance…in advance to it affecting your child, your niece, your cousin, your friend. And I’m, by no means, trying to compare hurricane preparedness to preparing for childhood cancer…I’m just relating how it hit home for me this weekend.
If more people contributed to childhood cancer causes, right now…instead of waiting until it affected them, there may be no need for a parent to worry about when the last day, last breath, last I love you, may come from their child.
That is what is scary…not losing your furnishings, not losing your car, not losing your pool…losing your legacies – your children to something that you have no control over. That’s scary. That’s real. For hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. every year.
My oldest fell in love with the Oregon Ducks football team years ago because they had impressive uniforms. I know, it sounds silly, but when a five year old loves football and loves neon yellow, cheering for the Oregon Ducks is an easy decision. This past weekend, during Hurricane Irma, we were at least able to watch a few football games, one of which was a ‘rivalry’ in our household – Oregon (my son’s team) vs. Nebraska (my father’s team).
And Oregon won…impressively.
But that wasn’t the coolest part for me. For me, the best part was that Oregon highlighted Childhood Cancer and raising money for a cure by working with Nike and the children affected by cancer.
The highlights of the uniform were:
* The gloves have the word ‘overcome’ written on the knuckles.
* The sleeves featured a duck ‘stomping’ on the word Cancer.
* The #StompOutCancer items are for sale with all proceeds going to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
What a grand way to highlight the needs of their youngest fans!
While my best friend may not have the national exposure that the Oregon Ducks have, she has worked her tail off (pun intended) to raise money for organizations that benefit kids, and more specifically children affected by cancer. She’s simply amazing.
She’s has been personally affected by childhood cancer in so many ways. It has affected her family, it has affected loved ones, it has affected those that have become family members because of Camp Sunshine, where she volunteers every.single.year.
This woman, my bff, my Rach, my kids Auntie Rachel, is now in training for her fourth or fifth or sixth (I can’t keep up anymore) marathon…all to raise money for Camp Sunshine to help benefit children whose lives, and their families’ lives, have been affected by life-threatening diseases, including cancer. These are the people that she pounds the feet to the pavement, for.
In October of 2014, I chased this woman around Chicago, and if you know me, you know that I get lost in my own hometown (where I’ve lived for almost 30 years) let alone a big city like Chicago…so needless to say it was a ‘fun’ adventure for me.
One of my favorite presents that I’ve ever received in my life is a cuff bracelet that she gave me that had the Chicago subway system engraved on the cuff…because…I got lost sooooo much. I was her do-or-die that weekend. And that’s defined as, I needed to beat her to where ever she was going to be so that I could do anything or bandage anything or give her what she needs. And I wanted to be that girl…because she was giving up a lot to raise a lot of money for her charity. I felt like if I let her down, I was letting A LOT of people down that pledged their money to support her.
So the pressure was on.
And pressure + Staci Beth = a stressed out mess.
Leading up to the marathon, we had soo much fun. We had lunch at a restaurant that fed my bff walnuts and she’s severely allergic to nuts (which we previously told them) and we ended up in a hospital (nothing like E.R. (the show) much to my disappointment), I discovered I’m not good in emergency situations (more about that another day), we had breakfast on the other side of one of the bridges in Chicago (over the river that they turn green on St. Patty’s Day), we had A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Chicago pizza, I got to experience a ‘real runners’ expo and it made me want to lace up my sneakers, and then had a girls night at an amazing local eatery. Literally, made my whole year complete.
Then the next day, I got to watch my best friend in action.
That is after a night of pain and ice and ibuprofen or whatever she used to alleviate the daily pain she was in just from the rigorous training that she had put her body through.
There is nothing like watching one of your loved ones cross the finish line of something that they have worked their whole lives for. I was able to virtually watch her the year prior when she ran the NY Marathon (months after the Boston bombing) and I don’t think I could have been more proud of her even if she were blood related to me. That cringe on her face made me even more proud of her for pushing past her limits…something that I had yet to do myself.
And yet, I knew she didn’t do it for the beer at the end of the race, or for me to say how proud I was of her, or for the recognition of her family and friends and Camp Sunshine…she did it because she loves every little heart that has to undergo cancer treatment…that has to hear that they have a life-threatening illness.
What she physically puts her body through every year, in order to run 26.2 miles, is excruciating. But she does it every year. Because of love. Because of her family. Because of her commitment to Camp Sunshine. Because she believes there should be a cure.
Donate to her run. (Click on any of these links.)
Donate $5, or whatever you can, to make a child’s life a little more filled with hope than the day before. They deserve to love life like we do…for the next 90 years.
This weekend, I’ve focused on my kids and they say that where your mind wanders, that’s where your heart is. This weekend, I was consumed with my kids, with keeping them safe…and thoughtfully, so many of you reached out to me to worry with me and I’m so thankful!!
Now worry, with me, about those families that have to hear that their 11 year old has brain cancer or that their two year old has leukemia. Those are the things that we should really be ‘preparing’ for and funding. And start with donating to Rachel’s run that supports Camp Sunshine and those with life-threatening diseases.
Thanks in advance!