So, not surprisingly, I got lost the other day trying to go to a job interview in Boston. I ended up overshooting my mark and driving around in the Longwood Medical area. At some point I realized I hadn’t been down that way since a few years ago when I almost did that stem cell donation. As I was trying to GPS my way to freedom, I thought back about that story, the sad ending, and then about my sister-in-law’s awesome late mom who was a patient at Dana Farber.
And then I thought about how one day I was down there for some pre-test thing and looked up at the windows of Children’s Hospital and saw handmade posters decorated with a girl’s name. A kid was living her childhood up there and her loved ones were trying to make it better.
This girl and her family and friends had an impact on me they’ll never know. Because, to this day, anytime I get annoyed at some stupid thing, I recall those posters and think: you know what, if you don’t have to go see any of the kids you love in the hospital, you have no complaints, Beth. You seriously, seriously have no complaints.
I wish I could remember the name on those posters. It was a common girl’s name which made illness seem so earthbound. Kids who get seriously ill don’t come with special names. It could be any kid at any time. I wish I could remember the name and I wish I could know the girl was cured of whatever had her up in that room.
But, this topic isn’t just on my mind because I got lost the other day.
Like a lot of people in my town, and about 57,000 other readers, I follow Danny’s Warriors, the Facebook page of a young mom who lost her son to a type of brain cancer just a few months ago.
In the last months of his life, this beautiful kiid became our town star. He was the recipient of tens of thousands of cards from around the world – cards from strangers wishing him happy birthday just to be kind and fulfil his birthday request. It was a beautiful thing to follow on the news, even more beautiful to read about in the mom’s own words – the love, the ability to find joy in each moment.
In the almost 20 weeks since her son’s passing, this mother now writes – has to write- about how she and her younger son deal with life after Danny’s death.
And I swear, every time I read, I think the same words “I can’t even imagine.” Because I can’t. Sometimes literally my brain won’t let me. This is especially true when I realize Danny was the same age as my younger two nephews. I can’t imagine the empty seat in the classroom or one brother now without the other. I can’t even complete the thought – like when your subconscious wakes you up from a nightmare out of self protection.
This mom has no choice but to complete the thought. Because this isn’t imagination or a nightmare. This is her life.
Yet, somehow, in the midst of this, this mom has summoned up still more resilience and continues to advocate to help prevent other families from losing their children to cancer, too.
“Awareness brings funds. Funds bring research. Research brings cures.”
This mom has asked her readers to “go gold” on social media for September– National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Go gold, post links, share information. So I’m going gold, and I am posting these links to people and places that help raise awareness and money and research and cures:
- Here is some information about the type of cancer to which Danny succumbed.
- Here is the information for the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund, whose work is legendary
- Here is info on the bone marrow/PBSC donor program. (Please, get on the Registry if you can. You could save a life!)
- Here is something I learned from a child with cancer
- And here again is the web page for Danny’s mom and her group. (I have intentionally not mentioned her by name because I don’t know her personally. You can connect with her on her site.)
There are things we can’t control. A lot of them: like who gets sick and who gets well.
But we can control what we seek out to learn, what we share with the world and how we use our time and resources. We can control our concern for each other – even for strangers – and how we put that concern into action. These things we can control. (Some of you reading this now are my role models in this kind of proactivity.)
I want to thank this mom, Danny’s original warrior, for reminding us we do have power- and we should use it.
So let’s. Let’s remember Danny and remember his family’s continuing struggle. Let’s get informed and spread information and keep the campaign for more cancer research on the front burner. Let’s use our power.
Let’s all be Danny’s Warriors in the battle against childhood cancer.
Thanks for reading,
Note: Each month, I’m going to post an entry on childhood cancers. As Danny’s mom reminds us, childhood cancer needs to be talked about 12 months a year.