It’s been a whirlwind of a month leaving me little time to update my blog. I’ve been enjoying visiting colleges for the St. Baldrick’s and Relay for Life events. I’ve spoken to young adults who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to raise money for cancer.
As I listened to some of the students’ stories, I realized that whether they are personally dealing with cancer or have a friend or relative who is fighting, they need to tell someone about it who gets it. They may not expect anything in return but sometimes they get peace of mind. But what they don’t realize is that they give me something, too. Their stories of courage, loss, and hope keep me company knowing that I am not the only one who has suffered with the cancer enemy. When we come together and share, we offer our connections.
Here are a few that really resonated with me:
At the College of Saint Rose a young woman with long strawberry blond hair introduced herself to me and said that she was shaving her head for the Brave Will Foundation, in memory of Baby Will who passed away in 2009. Her act of selflessness is a balm to Baby Will’s family who can’t help but feel the love.
|Raising money for St. Baldrick’s in memory of Brave Baby Will.|
Another young woman who plays softball shaved her head for a little boy who is struggling with cancer and she wants to volunteer doing graphic design. She is using her passion to help others.
|Thank you to Juliana Badaluco who is a graduate of Shen and student at Potsdam for inviting myself and Colleen Williams-Wright to the event.|
At SUNY Potsdam, I spoke at the Fight Back part of the evening. I love watching the audience as I speak and seeing nods of understanding and agreement. I know my audience is engaged and it may only be one phrase or short story that they connect with, but it can change a person’s life for the better. After I was done speaking, a survivor named Bonnie spoke. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 13. She had 1 1/2 years of treatment and after two months relapsed. She was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. While she was sick in the hospital her brother, David, who was nine at the time was with a babysitter who let him go for a ride on his bike. David was hit by a new driver backing out of his driveway. Afraid of what he had done, the driver drove away. David was a hemophiliac and bled out. He may have lived had the young man called for help. But as life sometimes has it, David died and ended up being a perfect match for his sister, Bonnie.
|Bonnie, changing the world through her story.|
Bonnie and her family lost her brother, which saved Bonnie’s life. Her story broke my heart but it made me ask the question: Why did her brother have to die so that she could live? It’s a question that she and her family probably ask themselves. I don’t know the answer, but sometimes just asking the question is enough to change our perspective and our lives. Bonnie has so much to offer in telling her story and by and teaching others.
Members of Nick’s Round Table volunteered at Albany Med’s St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser. They were amazed at how many people attended, the emotions that getting heads shaved evoked, and how much support and love was shown for others. Their job was to keep the younger kids distracted while some of the adults had their head shaved. They colored and did some arts and crafts. The girls helped the children, but were very affected by the atmosphere and dedication.
|Emily Patchell doing crafts with kids at St. Baldrick’s event.|
Everyone at these events has so much to offer to those struggling with cancer. The practical side of fundraising is obvious, but it’s compassion, hope, strength, bravery, and selflessness. They give so much without even knowing and I appreciate their openness with me.
If you ever think that you don’t have something to offer to a person in pain, hurting from loss, or staggering from a cancer diagnosis, think again. You small act of selflessness, your offering may be what they need.