Cancer sucks, but we can do good things

I was on Facebook the other day, with my one year old sitting next to me. He pointed to my profile picture, and said his 7 year old brother's name.

Joey and Me in 2008

"No, that's Joey," I answered.

Confused, Baby E repeated his 7 year old brother's name.

"Joey," I said again.

Baby E looked from me to the screen, pointed, repeated Knox's name, and walked away. Conversation over.

I know this is something we are going to have to face going forward. Baby E will never know his brother Joey. He will know that we had a son and his brothers had a brother who died from cancer, but he will never know Joey as his brother.

He will never know him like this:

Slim and Joey on Kindergarten Roundup Day
2009 (two weeks before Joey's diagnosis)

Or this:

Knox (left) at age 2 and Joey age 3 1/2
Captured beautifully by our babysitter, Megan.

Or this:

Joey (5) and Lil' C (1) 2008

It saddens and angers me that Baby E will never know Joey's brand of big brother love: his laughter, his kindness, his wonderful, tight hugs, the infectious giggle and contagious spirit of someone who liked to have fun ALL. THE. TIME.
He will never know because of the beast called pediatric cancer which cut his life way too short in the most cruel way.
Sometimes I feel so helpless, so hopeless. Cancer can do that to you, especially the kind that looks you in the eye and says Your son will die. I feel guilty that there is not more I am doing to preserve and honor my sweet boy's memory, to fight this disease so no other parents will know what it's like to lose a child and no other siblings will lose a best buddy.
That is why, when I heard about Mary Tyler Mom's "Donna Day" campaign, I knew I had to help (I just kind of butted my way in).
On the off chance that you don't know who Mary Tyler Mom is, she lost her beautiful daughter Donna to a brain tumor in 2009 at age 4. She has written beautifully about it on her blog and for the Huffington Post. She also has a charity in Donna's name called Donna's Good Things.
Today, MTM and many other bloggers are speaking out to raise money for The St. Baldrick's Foundation, which is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
Some facts about pediatric cancer from their website:
  • More US children will die from cancer than any other disease, or many other diseases combined;
  • Before the age of 20, 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will be diagnosed with cancer;
  • worldwide, a child is diagnosed every three minutes;
  • the cure rate for the most common form of pediatric cancer, ALL leukemia, is as high as 90%, but most other childhood cancers do not have that success rate, e.g., brain tumors have a 50/50 cure rate, and some are known to be fatal with no known treatment or cure;
  • 73% of kids who survive their cancer will have chronic health problems as a result of their treatment and 42% will suffer severe or life-threatening conditions like secondary cancers.
This page on St. Baldrick's website makes me want to cry. It illustrates how and why childhood cancer research and drug research is so underfunded. I feel like it's saying that it doesn't matter when a child gets cancer. And I'm not sure why that is. St. Baldrick's is working to change that, and MTM is spreading the word.
The purpose of the Donna Day campaign is to raise money for a head shaving event on Saturday, March 30 in Chicago. Last year, Mary Tyler Mom and her team raised $79,000 for St. Baldrick's! This year, they have less shavees and are hoping to raise at least $30,000 (last year, their goal was only $20,000!). Please go to her team's page, use the green donate button, and give whatever you can. Even $5 will help.
If everyone reading my post and her post and every other blogger's post would give even $1, can you imagine how much money that would be toward fighting childhood cancer?!?
Please, please consider donating and sharing this information with others. Some days I don't feel like I can do much to stop other parents from hearing the same awful news that Hubby and I heard back on that day almost four years ago. But I can do this. I can spread the news of people doing good things.
And I can do good things, too.
Will you?

*Originally published on 3/1/13
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