The Unspeakable Cruelty of Childhood Cancer – and What You Can Do
I have been involved in St. Baldrick’s for four years now. St. Baldrick’s has a pretty simple premise. For those parents who face the nightmare of pediatric cancer and resulting harsh treatments causing hair loss, many shave their heads in a show of solidarity with their children. And raise money in the process.
I am raising money again this year. I will move on quickly to why it is important that you click here now donate, but what’s new this year is I am combining my fundraising efforts plus my participation in the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon on St. Patrick’s Day. So if you are thinking about donating, in addition to shaving my head, I’ll be running 13.1 miles on March 17th – pushing my body to its limits because so many brave children do as well. And I am hitting you up for money.
Read what’s below, why it’s SO, SO important.
I wrote this on February 10, 2010:
It has taken me about four days to write this post. I start. I stop. My eyes well up. Then I start again. Please read the whole thing.
And yes, I will end up asking you to make a contribution to help fund research to beat childhood cancer.
Lauren is 12 years old. I have never met her, but outside of my own daughter, I think that she is the prettiest little girl in the world. On March 4, 2005, this beautiful little girl was diagnosed with Langerhan’s CellHistiocytosis/Ensophillic granuloma. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to have a sick child, but when you hear scary words like “chemotherapy” and “survival rates” as a parent, it is beyond my ability to process. My own story is not important, but I spent plenty a day in the waiting area of the Lombardi Cancer Institute in Washington, DC watching the looks of anguished parents as they carried in their children whose withered bodies were unable to move themselves.
Lauren’s mom and dad joined the CarePages site (an online support group – you have to join the site) in 2005, and as of this writing, there are 609 postings – chronicling disagnoses, treatments, illnesses, operations, WAY too much time spent in hospitals. And unspoken anguish. Eleven year-old children (like my own son) should be out playing, running, jumping, giggling. Skinning their knees. NOT being hooked up to machines, poked with needles and spending hours in the car going to and from doctor’s appointments. IT JUST IS NOT RIGHT.
I “met” Lauren’s mom, Heather, in 2008 when I decided to join a St. Baldrick’s Team. I chose to sponsor Lauren at random, since she and my son are about the same age. The premise of St Baldrick’s is simple: I raise money that goes to “…most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world to find cures and improve the quality of life for patients and survivors.” I raise money, show up in an Irish pub in DC and get my head shaved. I am almost ashamed at how little I do compared to the enormity of that parents of childhood cancer victims – and the children themselves – face every day. UPDATE: THIS YEAR, I AM TYING IN MY FUNDRAISING EFFORTS TO THE HALF MARATHON I AM RUNNING ON MARCH 17.
It is hard to find words to describe her, but Lauren’s mom, Heather, is strong and determined – but in ways that someone should never be tested. On December 13, 2007, Heather’s husband – and Danielle and Lauren’s daddy – George – was killed in an automobile accident. Imagine police knocking on the door. Having to tell two little girls that their daddy has gone to heaven – right before Christmas. Heather has endured the loss of her husband and partner in Lauren’s care while managing her daughter’s illness and attempting to provide a sense of normalcy both for Lauren and Danielle. From everything that Heather has told me, George was a strong man, and one who would always know what to do. Two years ago, when I did St. Baldrick’s, I held a picture of the family in lap because I wanted to honor all of them, but also wanted George to be there in spirit.
A child’s life should carefree, fully of laughing and playing, but Lauren’s short life has also been full of ER visits, chemo and the loss of her daddy – things that many people could not endure in a lifetime, let alone 12 short years. I wish — more than just about anything — that I could bring back George, Heather’s husband and Lauren and Danielle’s daddy. I wish that I could take away Lauren’s illness and that of any other childhood cancer victim. I can’t.
So for those of you who follow this, I am literally begging you: please consider giving a donation to St. Baldrick’s. If you are not in a position to donate, then please share post this with your friends or re-tweet it. I have set a pretty aggressive fund raising goal based upon my own passion.
None of us can change the past, but with a few tears, determination, courage, and yes, funding, we can change the future.