This story begins with The End. It was the thirty-first of thirty-one installments of Donna’s Cancer Story. Donna was three months younger than my now six-year-old son, but now he’s two years older than she will ever be. For a kid, a simple 24-hour flu can feel like a lifetime. Donna dealt with cancer for 31 months–over half of her short life. Mull that one over for a minute.
In a little over five weeks from now, Karin and I will be shaving our heads in solidarity with kids with cancer while raising money to fund childhood cancer research. If you’ve read my post entitled “Blissfully Bald,” you’ll know why this cause has become so important to Karin and me. If you haven’t, I hope you will. Here’s a short excerpt:
Thankfully, I’ve never had to make decisions month-by-month or day-by-day that would dictate whether or not I’d live, for how long, and at what cost. Even more thankfully, I’ve never had to make those decisions about one of my children.
But Mary Tyler Mom has. Sadly, so have countless other parents. According to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year (that’s about one every 3.5 minutes), and one in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive.
I try to re-frame things in a positive light. This is difficult to do when you’re talking about kids with cancer. But I feel a love for Donna–a kid I never met in person–the way I love my own nieces and nephews. I wish she and my boys could have played together. I wish I could have invited Mary Tyler Mom and her entire family over for a rockin’ fairy flower popsicle dance party. I wish I didn’t have to write this post.
Yet here we are.
I wish for a lot of things, but nothing is more near my heart on this day than to do my part to help conquer kids’ cancer. Today is Valentine’s Day. And while I’d normally view this “Hallmark holiday” as little more than the day on which I’m obliged to buy a card and some candy, it takes on a new meaning for me this year. Karin will get her flowers and chocolate and some extra smooches, sure. But this year we’re spreading the love for Donna.
I appreciate what this little girl has done for me. When I think of Donna, I imagine that she leads me to a hilltop overlooking an idyllic valley, then leaves me there; wiser, inspired, empowered. It’s not that I feel like I “owe” Donna something. It’s more a sense of reciprocation. Her “end” has sparked a beginning. The loss of her life is tragic, there’s no mistaking it. But there’s a bitter sweetness here that can easily be seen as beautiful, selfless purpose. That’s how I choose to re-frame it for the sake of resolving the dissonance I feel. Find the beauty in the tragedy. Choose hope. Love.
There’s a song that comes to mind with all of this talk of the end and love…
“Love you… love you… love you…”
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
With gratitude and (so-much-it’s-almost-painful) love,
P.S. Karin of Pinwheels and Poppies and Deb of The Monster in Your Closet are also blogging for Donna today, along with several others! Be sure to visit Donna’s Good Things on Facebook to find all of the posts. Happy Donna Day!
Donna’s story is changing lives. A non-profit organization was founded in her name (Donna’s Good Things) and aims to:
- Provide joyful opportunities for children facing adversity, be it economic, familial, social or health related;
- Encourage your good things by providing an online community where folks can share in words or photos something they’ve done influenced by Donna’s inspiration. (http://www.donnasgoodthings.org/content/?s=2, 2012)
A generous donor has made the announcement to Donna’s Good Things that any donations received between now and February 18, 2012, will be matched up to $2,000.00!
Donate on the Donna’s Good Things Team Page today! (After the $2,000 matching goal has been met, or after the 18th, please donate to Chris of team Blissfully Bald. It all goes to the same charity, but I’m going for a personal record here!)
UPDATE: The matching donation goal has been reached! Team Blissfully Bald is still hoping to reach $2500 by March 24th. It all goes to St. Baldrick’s on behalf of Donna’s Good Things!
From St. Baldrick’s:
How can you help Conquer Kids’ Cancer?
1. Donate Now to fund lifesaving research
2. Sign up as a Shavee or Volunteer at an Event Near You. (Once you find an event, click on the blue box that says ‘participate at this event’. If you want to join the Donna’s Good Things team, when prompted say you want to join an existing team, and filter for “Donna” at other events)
3. Can’t find an event near you? Organize your own event. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will coach you every step of the way. In particular, they are looking for new events in Maine, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah.
4. Have questions about getting involved? Visit www.StBaldricks.org or contact Heather@StBaldricks.org.