|One of my fondest memories.|
A couple of hours earlier on the same day that photo appeared on Facebook, I got to hold a piece of American sports history:
|Sometimes my job is so cool it's actually|
worth the aggravation and sleep-deprivation.
Suffice it to say, last Friday I was feeling particularly blessed. That night, I received an email from Mary Tyler Mom, asking me to participate in today's Donna Day to raise help raise awareness and money for childhood cancer. I initially balked... because I am blessed. I have no experience with childhood cancer. (Knock wood.) Mary Tyler Mom is the only person I know who has a child with childhood cancer. (I often speak of the dead in the present tense. After all, Donna is STILL her child.) As much as I love and admire her, we've only met through blogging. I may know her, but do I really know her? I may know her daughter by reading Donna's Cancer Story, but I don't know her.
I worried that my connection to childhood cancer was superficial at best. I didn't think I could do such a day - Donna Day - justice. Then I read this post about how underfunded childhood cancer research is compared to other cancers and thought to myself, "What if it were Peanut?" How hard would I fight? How often would I write about it? How angry would I be if I felt she and others like her were being ignored?
So here I am, feeling blessed and writing about childhood cancer. Blessed for the opportunity.
|Sweet dreams, Peanut.|
But what if none of that would help her? What if all my effort - and my career - was good for was health insurance? What if even that wasn't enough? What if I couldn't protect her? I would be angry. Frustrated, Heartbroken. I would feel hopeless. That is a horrible combination.
I would also feel something similar to what I felt when my dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack more than ten years ago. So much of that day, and the days and weeks that followed, are a blur. But I also remember so much of it so vividly, as if it were yesterday. Among the parade of people I recall filing past me to offer condolences at my dad's wake was my best friend's parents. These are the people who routinely hosted me at their house, drove me to and from hockey games, and even were the first ones to take me skiing. I remember his dad hugging me. Then he asked me how old my dad was. "59," I answered sadly, knowing his life was cut way too short way too soon. "You got hosed," he shot back sympathetically. "Yeah. You got royally hosed." He was right. That's how I felt and he knew it. He knew I was cheated out of another decade at least with my dad.
I feel that way still sometimes. Then I realize I had 27 years with him, and a lot of people don't get even that much time with their dads. And now I think, you know who got hosed? Mary Tyler Mom. Her husband and son. Donna. They got hosed. A little girl dies at four years-old after fighting a brain tumor for most of her life? That's bullsh1t. Cancer sucks. It hoses people. The littlest people. People who need more protection than they're getting.
I revealed my daughter's name in this post to make her even more real to you, and not just the main character in the story I choose to share here on the blog. She is my child. My only child. Flesh and blood. Laughter and sadness. Hopes and dreams. She turns six a week from today. Donna is real too. Her cancer was real. It killed her. She was four. I would do all I can to protect Penelope from going through what Donna did. Unfortunately, I can't. That scares me. So we must do more to protect our children. We must do more for childhood cancer. We'd all want our child to have a fighter's chance.
- More US children will die from cancer than any other disease.
- Worldwide, a child is diagnosed every three minutes.
- The cure rate for the most common form of pediatric cancer, ALL leukemia, is as high as 90%, but most other childhood cancers do not have that success rate. Brain tumors have a 50/50 cure rate.
- 73% of kids who survive their cancer will have chronic health problems as a result of their treatment. 42% will suffer severe or life-threatening conditions like secondary cancers.
Childhood cancer is so poorly funded it's outrageous. (Click here to find out why.) So please donate what you can to St. Baldrick's. Our goal is $30,000 by March 30th, the day of the big head-shaving event in Chicago. CLICK HERE to go to our team page and use the green donate button. If you can give just $5 or $10 it would make such a big difference.
If you want to shave your head, there is still time to sign up and raise money yourself. I would shave my head, but unfortunately I'm afraid that wouldn't net much. Still, I am otherwise blessed in so many ways and hope you are inspired by my blessings to recognize yours and help.
And if there is one post on this blog that you will ever share, please let it be this one.
Thank you. Bless you.