Thursday, December 8, 2016

No One Fights Alone

It's often said in the childhood cancer world, "No one fights alone.". It's not a solo journey. Lately, I've been reminded of that more and more.

Yesterday, I reached out to friends and family to call their Senators to ask for support of the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. As I watched my Facebook post be shared and copied multiple times over the past 24 hours and read numerous comments and posts from people who made calls, I was humbled. This is an issue that directly affects my family, my child, and our future. But for many who made calls today, they don't have a direct impact on their lives. People called and shared to help ME, to help MY child, and to help MY family. This issue doesn't affect their lives or their families but they have joined our journey and because they are alongside us, they feel affected. When I saw my friends who have healthy families and friends without children who stood with us and made calls today, it brought me to tears. That's what they mean when they say, "No one fights alone.".

We have recently partnered with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and have set up a Hero Fund in Tillery's honor. When we were in Cincinnati, ALSF helped cover some travel expenses for us before we were set up at the Ronald McDonald House. When we looked into them more, we learned they raise a lot of money for research and the TIL Fund is set up with all funds raised being used directly to fund pediatric brain tumor research. It's come pretty naturally to us to discuss ALSF and our hopes for funding important research. A few humbling things have happened over the past week. In addition to our usual supporters (thanks Hendleys and Burkes!) we had two donations this week that really touched my heart. The first came last week from my students, who took up a collection to present to me on the last day of class. (Don't listen to all the negative things you hear about this upcoming generation, these college kids have big hearts!) The second was from our favorite 12 year old, Natalie Vaughn. Natalie is a special girl and a great role model to hang around with our kids. On Sunday, Natalie gave me a handful of bills and asked me to put it towards our Christmas Giving fundraising. We have been doing fundraising efforts for over a year and we have so many people who have been involved. There are people who give every time we ask for donations and people who feel led at certain times or events to make a donation. Regardless of when, why, or how much, since our first fundraiser in August 2015, we have raised almost $14,000 for childhood cancer research! That's what they mean when they say, "No one fights alone."

Tonight, I went to dinner with two friends. I met these ladies when we were each going through some of our hardest days. We met at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We were all miles from home with sick children and unknown futures. Before going in to meet my friends for dinner, I was texting with a friend who is spending the night tonight at Cincinnati Children's with her child. Earlier today, I spoke with two other mamas I met while living at the Ronald McDonald House. We became a community. Through the hurt that we were going through, we formed unbreakable bonds of friendship. We hugged each other on hard days. We shared meals, Cherry Cokes, and medical supplies. We laughed and cried and told stories that no one else we have ever met could relate to. That's what they mean when they say, "No one fights alone."

If I haven't said it lately, Thank You! Thank you for fighting alongside us. Our lives were forever changed when Tillery was diagnosed. The change was that we learned that we were not alone.

To make a donation to the TIL Fund's Christmas Giving, click here.

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