Milestones

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Last night I finally watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I thought of Justin and how much he loved the comic book movies and wanted to see this one. Then I thought of milestones. Justin passed away on January 27, 2017. He wasn’t here for the opening night of this movie or for the rest of the many more coming out this year.

Justin would be going into his junior year. It’s another milestone that repeatedly breaks his mom’s heart. These milestones that hit us like a ton of bricks will continue for the rest of our lives.

Once the college graduations of Nick’s peers were over, I thought there would be a reprieve. However, then the jobs come, the weddings, and the babies. There will always be a milestone that will bring up the pain of losing my son to cancer. It doesn’t lessen the joy I feel for those who are living their lives, it just another hurt that I carry with me.

Looking at Justin’s beautiful smile, you know he was full of life. He loved his mother, his family, his books. Today, I remember Justin, because of all what he taught us, and also because of his potential that was cut short by cancer.

We cannot turn away from what children with cancer go through. We have to raise money for new and improved treatments that provide less side effects. We need to support the families whose lives have been split by this disease. And we absolutely need to support the parents and kids who have lost a member of their family.

Take action and spread the word. Much love to Justin, his mom, and family.

10 Years!

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I met Sammie Sagnelli three weeks after I lost Nick to cancer. She had been fighting a hard battle, and her hair was short and curly circling her angelic face. We met at the fundraiser that Nick was supposed to be involved in. This young girl became a part of my life, and her vibrancy and zest for life helped me through some of my darkest moments missing my boy.

When a child hits a milestone, whether it’s a day cancer free or a week, a month, a year, 5 years or 10 years, first I want to fist pump the world and say, “Thank goodness!” Second, I think about that child’s potential and all she has to offer to the world, now that she is healed.

Sammie went on and continued to play softball through high school. She has always loved to bake, and I remember when she was on a dog biscuit baking phase. My dogs enjoyed them! Sammie also was incredibly involved with Nick’s Round Table, and her knowledge and understanding of what kids needed during treatment enhanced what we did.

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Amazing officers of Nick’s Round Table!
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Sammie speaking at a conference.

Sammie is a voice for others and isn’t afraid to speak up and share how cancer affects a child not only while they are in treatment, but after. Children may not realize side effects until they are older. And they aren’t just physical. Emotional side effects play a huge part in a child’s battle with cancer and can take a lifetime to heal.

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Autumnfest at Hope Club, Latham

Sammie has never been afraid of being herself and sharing her time with kids who need support. Her love of Katniss and the Hunger Games is still probably very strong, and I think she can relate to the idea of being forced into something that you don’t want to do, but then you realize that you are stronger than you thought you were. Others see that and view her as a role model.

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Making quilts with fellow volunteer, PK

That is what Sammie has become. A role model for other kids who are battling cancer. To look at Sammie now, you would never know how sick she was as a child. She gives us hope, she spreads joy, and is making the world a better place just by being here! Now a college student, Sammie is living the life that she wants and deserves. Cancer can never take that away from her.

So happy that you have reached an amazing milestone, Sammie! I love you and am so grateful to have you in my life! Maybe next time I see you, you’ll have made some yummy desserts! Hint, hint!!