Early this morning a close family friend’s sister died of cancer. A few days ago, she was given eight months to live and our friends were flying to see her today. They missed her by just a few hours. I cannot imagine the grief and despair they are feeling for not being able to express their love one last time in person.
This is the toll this dreadful disease brings.
Less than a year ago, my friend Tessa, was diagnosed with breast cancer right before her 26th Birthday (and right after running her something-eth marathon). She had a double-mastectomy, kept running, then kicked chemotherapy’s butt. Tessa has asked me to think of a young girl, Isabella, who is six years old and has been battling Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that develops in nerve tissue, since she was two.
My Papa battled various cancers on and off for over seven years. Right before he died, his wife, my Nana, was diagnosed with cancer. After taking care of my sick Papa for many years, she fought her own fight for 18 months after he passed away. Then she went, herself.
I met Jessie when I was 20. She was 21 and had beat leukemia twice—once as a toddler and once as a teenager. She is still cancer-free.
Hillary was diagnosed with Melanoma in high school. She graduated in 2004, is 25, and still battles reoccurring cancer. If you met her, you would never guess that she’s sick, because her attitude is so fantastic. But, she wakes up every day knowing she has a disease in her body. No matter how tired she is, she lives every day knowing that “time is of the essence.”
I learned that my former co-worker had a Wilms Tumor when he was 18 months old. He told me this when he and his wife decided to make a donation to my campaign.
Sarah had cancer twice in her twenties. The second time, she was pregnant with her now almost four year-old daughter. Sarah was treated for her cancer during and after her pregnancy. For Natalie’s first year of life, she and her mom were bald and growing new hair together.
Right after college, I went to the funeral of my friend Katelyn’s mom. We were both 22 years old. As I listened to family members and friends speak about her mother’s struggle with cancer for more than 12 years, I sobbed as I tried to imagine the unimaginable of losing own my mother who was sitting next to me.
If your go to my list of donors, it’s impossible not to notice the donations made “in honor of” and “in memory of” our loved ones who have fought and lost, fought and won, and are still fighting cancer.
I can say with certainty that there is no person unaffected by this terrible disease. On April 29, my brother, old friends, new friends, and I will shave our heads to raise money to find cures for childhood cancers. I can also say with certainty that as the razors meet our scalps, we will all be thinking of people we know and people we knew, and hoping that with this symbolic gesture, we will be honoring them, as well.
If there is someone you would like to honor, please leave a comment below and any details you would like.
The head-shaving will take place at Claddagh Irish Pub in Livonia on April 29 from noon-4 p.m. Please join us, if you can!