Courage

courage

This is Nick’s band. This morning I felt compelled to take it out of the box I have of his personal items. I usually just look at everything, but today I needed to wear it. Nick wore this band through his entire journey with cancer, and I feel his energy like a cozy blanket.

I think I needed to wear it because no matter where we are in life, it takes courage to live life as we wish. Situations and crises hit us when we least expect it, and when we are forced to change direction, our belief in ourselves can falter.

It takes courage to do so much:

…to express your truth even if others may condemn you for it.

…to leave the world you’ve always known to walk into a new life of cancer treatment.

…to care for those struggling through any type of illness–mental or physical.

…to redefine who you are in the face of tragedy and loss. It can be a physical part of you lost through surgery or chemo. It can be family and friends who can’t understand what you are going through. It can be anything you may not be able to do right now.

…to move forward without the one you love, whether it’s your child, partner, family member, or friend.

…to reach out and ask for help, when you no longer know how to help yourself.

I think Nick was sending me a message today that he wanted to share with everyone battling cancer or any illness that has turned their life upside down.

Be courageous. And when you feel your bravery slipping, surround yourself with those who will hold you up until you can stand on your feet again.

Revel in the power of love and the knowledge that miracles happen every day. Some of those miracles are our beautiful children who chose us to be their parents and guide us in the most mysterious ways.

 

An Amazing Generation of Cancer Fighters

 
 


There is a whole generation of young adults who are battling cancer.  Some are personally involved with their own diagnosis and fight daily against the raging side effects, the hormonal ups and downs of steroids, the uncertainty of their future, and loneliness.

Madelyn on left, Julia on right.

Today I went to The Melodies Center and visited with two young adults who have dealt with all of the above and more.  It’s only been two weeks since Julia, a 19-year-old who  relapsed, has woken up from being in a sedated state for one month.  None of the doctors thought she would come out of it as her organs began to fail.  But somehow Julia came back to see her mom waiting for her and amazed doctors and nurses welcoming her back.  In remission Julia now has to deal with aphasia which has affected her speech. Madelyn who is currently in treatment for Leukemia was in clinic and had shared a room with Julia a few months ago.  They have the same type of cancer, but lost touch after Madelyn was discharged.  I invited Madelyn to Julia’s room (with Julia’s permission) and both their faces lit up.  Madelyn accepted Julia’s hesitant speech and took off her wig so that they both displayed their beautiful bald heads. They talked about their treatment and how they wished the residents treated them as the young adults they are, not like little children.  In their own way they are raising awareness of how their generation–stuck between being a teen and an adult would like to be treated.  While they educate others, they lean on one another and erase that sense of loneliness that every cancer patient experiences.  They know what the other is going through and there is a sense of unity and healing that comes with that knowledge.  I’m so glad they have each other.

While Julia and Madelyn were reconnecting, another Julia and her friend Sophie were in the oncology clinic spending time with the younger patients as they waited for treatment.  They helped Esther paint a wooden heart with bright glitter paint, guided a sibling named Ryan while she made sand art, and kept 3-year-old Elsa busy painting beautiful birdhouses while I visited with her mom.  These young ladies and many others are part of Nick’s Round Table and they share the vision and goal to help these children heal.  They aren’t medical doctors (although some are indeed entering that field because of their experiences), but they spend time doing crafts, distracting children from their pain, and give each child a reason to smile while they are getting treatment. This generation of young adults know about loss, grief, heartache, and they are doing something about it so the next generation can have a more positive experience.

Raising awareness and educating the public about what children with cancer go through and what can be done is a major part of the foundation’s mission. Through a recommendation and references, my son, Stephen, was chosen to be a News Channel 13 Kids Who Care, because of his dedication to Nick’s Round Table and helping other children with cancer.  With help from fellow Round Table members PK, Alyssia, and Tyler, he told his story and why he fought against cancer.  Stephen, every member of Nick’s Round Table, and every young adult who raises money, awareness, holds a friend’s hand, comforts others, and fights cancer are making a difference in their own lives and the lives of children. 

See Stephen’s video below:

http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/playlist/17571/4001330

They are the Amazing Generation, because they aren’t standing back and letting life take over. They are taking on life and living it fully, with intention, and dedication.  Whether these young adults are fighting for their lives, spending time with sick children, or spreading awareness, they all have a hand in winning the war against cancer and I’m proud of them.