My name is Lee, and I am Melinda’s mom. As a college sophomore, Melinda has responsibilities that make time for blogging difficult. Sleep is a rarity. The world of childhood cancer still goes on, which means this blog about childhood cancer needs to continue. Melinda has invited me to be her guest blogger until Pepperdine lets out for the summer.
Since the time of her treatment, six years ago now, we have worked together as a “team” to help children with cancer. Having a strong focus to help others was instrumental in Melinda’s physical and emotional recovery from cancer, and I have no doubt it has helped me as well. There is something indescribable about helping others when your very own self is falling apart. Isn’t it true we feel as humans that we need to have our act together before we can help anyone else; we need to have all of our “ducks in a row” before we have “extra” to output for others. The plain truth is, we are often more compassionate, more understanding, and more helpful when we are broken, mangled, or bent. Any parent whose child has fought childhood cancer falls into this broken, mangled, or bent category. I am no different. My heart will never recover from the terror of Melinda’s suffering. But… I will rejoice every moment of every day for the rest of my life that she has come through the suffering. I intend to take this mangled heart of mine and form its love into a huge, fierce fire– a fire that will light the world of childhood cancer.
The childhood cancer community is a community no one chooses or dreams of joining. We are “drafted.” Not long after I was drafted, I realized I needed to “Enlist.” My love for children is so deep, so great, so overflowing, that I have no choice but to help these children in every way I can. I will admit there are kid parts of me that have never grown up. I have been known– on many occasions– to randomly and suddenly break into a skip. This is just one thing I love about kids; they teach us joy. They teach us about what we have discarded and left behind in our adult lives. When that adult reserve kicks in and tells me not to skip next time, I plan on inviting it to join me!
I want to express my thanks to moms and dads in the childhood cancer community for sharing your daily lives through social media. I feel I know so many of you, just from following. You have given me a better understanding of the problems, pressures, and battles you face each moment of each day. I want you to know how much I care. I want you to know how hard I will work for change. I want you to know you are not alone.
Finally, I am excited about the momentum that is building. I am honored to know many of you who work your tails off so that there can be newly funded research for less toxic treatments. I am amazed by the courage of so many of you who have lost your children to cancer that now run foundations to help the kids. After five years of my personal advocacy, it’s clear to me that the tides are beginning to turn. Four years ago, a dear lady named Christine began a campaign intended to raise awareness of childhood cancer. She was inspired by her friend, Deliece Hofen and her son, Braden, who is currently undergoing a bone marrow transplant. The campaign aimed at getting Oprah’s attention for a segment on her show and was called, “Oprah, Please Do A Show On Childhood Cancer.” Within no time, the childhood cancer community came together with a loud voice. Unfortunately, Oprah did not answer our pleas to help raise awareness. She had never done a show about childhood cancer and never did one before the show went off the air.
Recently, the outcome of our cohesiveness did bring about something extraordinary. “Under intense pressure” from social media and grassroots, Josh Hardy was able to get the medicine he needed, but had been denied. Another beacon of hope for progress is the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. Because we are connected and engaged with each other in our community, we are beginning to achieve some success. This means we have opportunities to save kid’s lives! This means we can build even more momentum for avenues of change.
The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act
Yes, let’s connect, connect, connect so we can achieve as much as we possibly can. Childhood cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease in our country. Seven children die from cancer every day here in the United States and over 40,000 children are currently in treatment. Many of these children fight for years. Many of these children suffer even more from the effects of their treatment than they do from cancer.
To all my fellow onc-parents, I love you and your children.
Please leave your contact on this page so we can all connect.