Friday, September 4, 2009

What Childhood Cancer Taught Me

I wrote this blog entry on Tuesday for the Heroes for Children blog to start the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I've been meaning to post it here. I'm very emotionally exhausted after a long week at work and learning of several of our favorite children relapsing. One is in very severe condition and they do not know how much longer sweet Caden has. My heart is heavy for his family. I thought this blog post was appropriate for tonight...

It's the first day of September. The first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The gold ribbon, a symbol of awareness of what these children fight, should be found everywhere. It's not. Unfortunately, there are still too many people out there who are unaware of childhood cancer. It's a scary topic for many. I understand this. I was one of the people who shied away from the topic. That is, until my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

I quickly learned more about childhood cancer. More than I ever wanted to know. I learned the parts of the blood, about chemotherapy, and blood transfusions. I learned how to quickly jump up when my baby was throwing up and how to respond to her different cries of pain. I learned heartache.

But I learned so much more than that too. I learned about love--both the love of my child and my husband, the love of my incredible family, but even the love of strangers. I learned of strength. My daughter was incredibly strong, enduring so much in her little body that most adults would struggle with. I saw strength in nurses and doctors as they went through their daily work to help the children, comfort the parents, and find a cure to this disease. I saw other children going through cancer treatment having races with their IV poles down the hallway. The strength and courage of these children is a constant inspiration of my life.

I learned about mothers. The kind of mothers who have aching backs from sleeping on ICU chairs to be at their child's bedside and who didn't complain. Mothers who fight valiantly alongside their child, responding quickly to their needs. Mothers, like my co-founder and friend, Larissa, who not only had a child with cancer but juggled the demands of providing and loving the other children at home.

Finally, I learned that cancer cannot defeat a child's spirit. Though a child can be riddled with cancer, it doesn't mean he/she will stop being a child. A child wants to play, laugh, love, giggle, be goofy, scream, throw tantrums, etc whether cancer is present or not. Cancer kids are just simply KIDS. They are sweet kids who want the business of cancer to be done and the business of being a kid to continue.

This month, I challenge you to learn a little about childhood cancer. You don't need first hand knowledge like me to get a deeper understanding. You can visit organizations like Heroes for Children. Research online and get involved in your community. Attend an event that supports families and the battles with childhood cancer, such as our upcoming Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk. You can make a difference this month during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider making a donation in support of these families. Even something as simple as placing a gold ribbon on your email signature with a line about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a link would help direct people's attention to this important topic.

Throughout this month, we will be blogging about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Keep up with us for more information about childhood cancer and what Heroes for Children does to alleviate some of the burden families face.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. What a way to bring even more awareness. Thank you, Jenny.

ViolinMama said...

Thank you!!!!

Lyndsay said...

Beautiful post! My email signature now has a gold ribbon and a link to Childhood Cancer research.

(childhood cancer survivor x 17 years!)

Alison said...

As always, beautiful & well said. Thank you a million times over for what you do every day.

Missy said...

Jenny, I am a long time follower of you from many years ago when Allie first got sick. I don't even remember how I found Allie's sight back then but I am so thankful I did. Jenny you have taught me so much as a mother, wife and friend... but most importantly you taught me about cancer,especially childhood cancer. I will be honest and tell you that it just wasn't something I had ever thought about. It just wasn't something that I felt concerned me......until I "met" you. You inspired me to learn every little thing I could about each cancer I could. Little did I know there is not enough hours in my life to learn each one....but it inspired me to make a difference. Because we never know when it could happen to us, our children, or someone we know. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart.
Just recently a little boy Elijah in my daughters preschool class was diagnosed with cancer in the brain. Then, 3 mos later our director of the preschool, her grandaughter Mikayla,who also goes there was diagnosed with leukemia. It breaks my heart, crushes my soul to see these children going thru treatment, being so sick.
I just want to say thank you. As a mother to 5 children, I wish I had the money to make a financial difference. But with one income (my husband is a police officer)I can't. BUT I would love to know how I can help in other ways???? I have donated toys, books, movies, things to our hospital for the kids room on our pediatric floor... sorry to ramble but I just wanted to take the time to tell you that I thank you for being the person you are...I rarely post but I read often. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart!

Me said...

So proud of you. This is a fantastic article. You are so gifted.
Love you so much.

snekcip said...

Jenny THANK YOU so much for giving a VOICE for these beautiful warriors. Beautiful entry, I think this should be posted in your local newspaper as the GUEST COLUMNIST!! WONDERFUL ENTRY!!!

kmm0305 said...

Thank you for the awareness! Even though my daughter went through something much different, I have come to find out how little people know about many childhood illnesses/birth defects. So often you don't know about it until it happens to you.

Our university athletic director has a child going through cancer treatments right now. He is in the same grade as my oldest at her school. It is the big in-state rivarly game this weekend and they are doing a kids cancer fundraising event, although I haven't found out the details about it. I will be sure to pass on the info that this coincides with childhood cancer awareness month.

kmm0305 said...

Just wanted to add I found this link:

The athletic director I talked about is at Iowa State University

kmm0305 said...

One more link to buy t-shirts that say Beat Cancer:

They are mostly Iowa schools, but they do have Texas (I can't remember where your loyalties lie, lol). They won't be there in time for Saturday but you can wear them the rest of the football season!

Fu Girls said...

YOU My Dear... ARE INCREDIBLE! You are Strong AND Powerful! Congrats on another Baby Girl... Girls are a lot of Fun and there is NOTHING like Sisters! You are blessing this earth with more powerful Women! Thank You. Big Hugs to you during this hard month... We are lighting the night as usual here in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you, Andrew and Maggie today, and hoping that this anniversary is whatever you need it to be. I think of Allie all the time, especially in September. I'm so proud of you for what you've done to help families through Heroes for Children. Who could have guessed five years ago that this would be your path? You are an amazing woman. Just thought you might like to know that a lot of us will always think of Allie, and remember how eloquently you wrote about your time with her.