Archive for the ‘Wish Kids’ Tag
My heart broke a little bit more today. Twice actually. Twice over a 5-minute period. After hearing about a complication in a friend’s health, I left his hospital room to find myself behind a sobbing woman, whom I presume just lost a loved one. I walked as slowly as I could just wishing that I could go up and give her a big hug, but I knew that it wasn’t my place to do so. Instead, I wrapped my arms around me as I followed behind her towards the exit.
Why is life so unfair? Why do people have to have to struggle with illness, disease, and loss? Why do parents have to lose their young children to incurable diseases such as cancer? Why? Why, why, why?
This afternoon, as the snow swept through the cold Chicago streets, I passed dozens of people shaking cups of change hoping that someone could be so generous as to spare anything they can offer. Ever since I was a little girl venturing downtown with my family to Pirates’ baseball games, my heart has mourned for those who struggle to know if there will be a next meal. Since moving here (over) three years ago, my heart continues to break when I know that I can’t help each person who shivers in the cold and longs for a sandwich.
Why is life so unfair? Why do people have to have to struggle to find shelter, food, and comfort? Why do people have to suffer to meet their basic needs and deal with the pain that comes with an insufficient lifestyle? Why? Why, why, why?
As I’ve shared in many posts before this, I’ve had a difficult time this past year and found myself struggling with depression. But what has always helped me overcome these obstacles is remembering that there are many people who are less fortunate than me. So in other words, my life isn’t that bad and therefore, I really don’t have anything to stress about. But those with cancer and others without a home, they are the ones that my heart worries for.
So why isn’t life fair? Why does a four-year old have to worry about fighting off Neuroblastoma when he should be spending his days playing and laughing with no worries at all? And why does our economy have to be so rough as to force people to lose their homes, belongings, and families and struggle to find a warm place to sleep night after night?
Life is so unfair. And it breaks my heart.
My friend, Jen, just sent me a text, after donating $150 to our friend Dustin’s fundraising efforts in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. Jen wrote, “It feels so good to give!!”
She’s right. It does feel good to give, especially to a cause that is worth more than money. Your money and support are Saving Lives.
I know you probably don’t know Dustin nor his aunts, who battled Leukemia and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and serve as two of the benefactors of him lacing up his running shoes in May. And maybe you don’t know me personally…but if you’ve read my blog at least once before, then you do know me well enough to know that I’d only share something (on this blog) if it truly means something to me. I do know Dustin and saw/heard firsthand his passion for supporting this cause in honor of his aunts and the others that are impacted by blood cancers.
I’ll share with you that Dustin is not a pro marathon runner. In fact, he’ll openly admit this and maybe even share his “I’m never running the Chicago Marathon again!” story. Trust me, the story was priceless. The fact that he is running another marathon (but definitely not in Chicago) is a miracle: A miracle that happens when passion & inspiration are in the driver’s seat.
On Monday, I had the honor of spending time with seven-year old Ivy yesterday. Ivy is a Leukemia Survivor, having been diagnosed at the age of 4. On Tuesday, I gave Ivy a big hug and sent her and her family off on a well-deserved trip to Disney World. She is a Cancer Survivor. And She is a Kid. A kid who talks about having leukemia (when she was ‘younger’) and still takes daily medicines and goes for routine check-ups, with hopes that her battle is over.
So, will you do me a favor?
If you know someone who has battled any of the blood cancers (leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic), or really any cancer at all, Think of Him/Her/Them Right Now.
And if you are fortunate not to be affected by this devastating disease firsthand, Think of Dustin and His Aunts or Little Ivy and Her Family.
Now..take a few minutes to:
1. Visit Dustin’s Page and read just why he’s committed to running the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus, OH with Team In Training on May 7, 2011.
2. Make A Difference. Donate Today. Help the thousands who battle blood cancers, such as Leukemia and Lymphoma. Serve the thousands who have lost their life to such illnesses. Support the millions of family members and friends who are affected by the struggles that their loved ones endure when fighting for their lives.
3. Learn more about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team In Training program by visiting www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/ and searching for the Chapter in your community.
To help Dustin raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit his Team In Training page at http://pages.teamintraining.org/coh/columh11/dwoodx#My-Fundraising-Page
Since arriving home on Wednesday, I’ve attempted to watch The Holiday twice already, passing out within 30 minutes of the first scene each time. But here I am, on the Christmas Eve morning/early afternoon attempting to watch it again, from the last spot I last remember before drifting off last night. Third time is a charm…or at least I hope. Honest to God I didn’t think I’d like this movie, primarily because I’m not a big Cameron Diaz fan., but with Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and a beautiful message about life and love, it’s proven to be one that I turn to quite often- especially during the holidays. Watching this movie today, I cannot help but think about how special the holidays are. And how much more special they are when you have kids to celebrate the holidays with.
As I said a few days before, reading those Dear Santa letters from the Macy’s Believe campaign, these Kids Make Me Want to Believe Again. In Everything. Believe that Anything is Possible if you Just Believe.
As we prepare our house for tomorrow’s guests, our holiday tradition with members of both my mom’s and dad’s families, I sit here wishing that we’d be graced with the presence of the Real Joys of Christmas: Children.
Much to our dismay, all of the young children in our family (my older cousins’ kids) will not be spending the holiday with us here in Pittsburgh. But I promise you that as we sit around the dinner table tomorrow, the same conversation will occur, directed at my cousins and me: So are you dating anyone? (No.) I cannot believe you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Response is typically a simple, let’s change the subject- smile or a witty one liner , which today’s tends to be “Oh that poor boy. whoever he is, is going to have to put up with this hot mess!”) And, as has been common lately after a conversation about my passion for volunteering with my children’s organizations, I’m sure this unheard line will find its way to my ears: “You’re going to make a great mother.” If that line is spoken to me, no matter how far away my mother ends up being at the time, I’m sure she’ll hear it and I may catch a glimpse of her hopefulness as she wishes that one day her daughter would finally meet a good guy and respond differently than, “I’m not sure if I’ll even have kids of my own. I don’t even think I’ll ever get married.”
But that’s not the point of this post…and instead I want to tell you about some children that I will be spending the holiday with, at least in spirit.
First, you know about my little angels, Hazel & George, who are the children of my friends, Rebecca & Nate. I would give anything to spend this Christmas with them. Take in their Excitement, Joy, and Beautiful Innocence. See their Smiles and Hear their Laughter. Just knowing them is the Best Christmas Present I could ever receive. If I do have kids of my own, one day, I know that it will be because of the impact that Hazel & George made on me.
And then there’s little Ethan & Liam (photo on the right), my two Wish Kids that we’ll hopefully be sending to Disney World in 2011. Liam’s as precious as they come: From His Tiny Little Voice, His Bright Big Boy Smile, and His Contagious Laugh that Makes You Want to Laugh. He is a Gift from God. And Inspiration to Me. The Reason I continue to Believe that Good Things can happen if You Fight & Believe.
On Monday, I am excited to spend some time with two more special kids, through accepting an invitation from my friend, Nila, to send-off Wish Kid, Ivy, her sister, Ayla, and her father and uncle on this trip to Disney World. Not only are Ivy & Ayla completely deserving of some spoiling and good cheer, but I feel blessed to have the support of my friends, Kristin, Stef, and Jen, who will be joining Nila and me at the Columbus Airport for this special occasion. Looking at photos of Ivy & Ayla makes me Appreciate the Chance that I have to Make this Holiday a bit Brighter for these little girls.
And this week, my mom brought another special girl, Matisse, and her family Into my Life. Into my World. Ten-year old, Matisse, is not only spending Christmas in the hospital but also her birthday (which is on Christmas day). Matisse and her family are from New Zealand and relocated to Pittsburgh four years ago to undergo a stomach, duodenum, pancreas, small and large bowel transplant. Her strength and determination are inspiring. Her family’s love & support are admirable and serve as a Reminder to How We Should All Love & Support Our Family.
Before signing off, may I ask you for a favor? Unfortuantely, Matisse and her family with be celebrating Christmas & her 1oth birthday in the hospital and as you can imagine, it’s not exactly their choice of destinations. However, we can all help make it better for them. Matisse LOVES getting e-cards from her family, friends, and all Well Wishers across the world. Her goal is to receive a card from someone in every state. Well, knowing that I have some international followers, as well, on this blog, I thought that we could help Matisse reach her goal and more.
Please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/ecards and send “Matisse Reid” a Happy Holiday card or Happy Birthday card. By doing this, you will truly make Matisse’s Christmas & Birthday a whole lot merrier and joyful. And Your Own Too, knowing that you brightened the day of a little girl.
So tonight, Christmas Eve, as you sit staring at the cracklin’ fireplace in your parents’ house and reimagine the plate of cookies, milk, and carrots that you used to lay out for Santa & his reindeer, wondering why did I ever believe in such a thing, Remember the Kids who Still Believe. And if you don’t have any kids in your life- your own, friends’ kids, nieces & nephews, grandchildren, students, and/or patients- I encourage you to Think of Mine: Hazel, George, Ethan, Liam, Ivy, Ayla, Matisse, and all of the Wish Kids and Kids in the Hospital that I’m Wishing I could Spend Christmas with.
Matisse’s Blog: www.caringbridge.org/visit/matissereid
Liam’s Blog: www.liamsgang.com
Happy 3rd Birthday to the Best Boy, Liam!
I’m going to let this beautiful video, created by his aunt, show you just how special little Liam is and how blessed I feel to know him!
Today I was honored to be a Guest Blogger on the website for the Fight | Survive | Inspire Foundation.
My remarkable, inspirational, and down-right A.MAY.ZING. friend, Kate, is the Foundation of Fight | Survive | Inspire Foundation and a cervical cancer survivor and advocate. In other words, she is a Fighter, a Survivor, and an Inspiration to me!
Below is my post but please visit the Fight | Survive | Inspire blog ( http://fightsurviveinspire.blogspot.com/) today!
Fight. Survive. Inspire.
These three words describe the battle that life proves to be so simply, yet perfectly. We are fighters. We fight for what we believe in; fight to figure out who we are; and fight to hold onto what we love. I am a fighter and you are a fighter. We are all fighters.
We are survivors. We survive the obstacles that life throws at us. We survive the words of our critics and cynics. We survive our own doubts and fears. You are a survivor and I am a survivor. We are all survivors.
We are inspirers. We inspire without even knowing it. We inspire others through our and actions every single day. We inspire people whose names we will never know- who will never know our name- but they’ll remember us by our inspiring words and actions. And we are inspired by others too. We are all inspiring and inspired.
All of us may personify these three words, but there is a group of people that define them: Cancer patients are the fighters, survivors, and inspirers of our world. They are the ones that inspire us with their strength, courage, and will-power as they fight to survive. I am inspired by each cancer patient I meet. I am inspired by every story I hear. I am inspired by them, inspired to live my life more fully and completely than before.
I, myself, have never battled cancer firsthand, but considered myself blessed to be surrounded and inspired by many fighters and survivors that have. Like most of you, I’ve had friends, family members, former teachers, and colleagues whose live have been touched by cancer, and as a result, they have touched my life.
Actually, stories of others’ battle with cancer began impacting me as a child when I enjoyed reading Wish Kids’ stories in Highlights Magazine. In my younger days, I loved hearing about their Disney World trips and which celebrities they got to spend a day with; however, as I got older my interest in these little kids grew. I’m sure I asked my mom why these kids had bald heads, which most likely caused the dreadful word to enter my vocabulary: Cancer. These little kids had cancer.
As I learned more about cancer over the years, my empathy for cancer patients and their loved ones only grew. In college, when my best friend’s boyfriend was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 21, I realized firsthand how heart-breaking this illness can be. I was inspired to fight cancer; however I could. I wanted to fight for Kyle. I wanted to fight for my friend Sarah’s mother who had breast cancer. I wanted to fight for all of those Wish Kids I used to read about. I wanted to fight for all of the cancer patients. After reading the story of a fellow Ohio University student’s battle with cancer and her wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation ®, I decided to begin serving the Foundation as a volunteer. Since then my dedication to the cause and empathy for those impacted by cancer and other illnesses has soared.
Through my volunteer work with Make-A-Wish ® and Children’s Memorial Hospital, I am able to be surrounded by resilient little warriors (also known as kids) that fight, survive, and inspire every day. By working with them, I am inspired to fight, survive, and inspire. They give me strength to fight; courage to survive; and the desire to inspire others.
Fight. Survive. Inspire. As I shared, these three words certainly describe the work that I do and who I am…and so much more. I fight, I survive, and I inspire for those that fight, survive, and inspire me.
Cancer is something that touches us all. Cancer is a fight that we all fight together. When it comes to fighting cancer, there is neither prejudice nor discrimination. There is no hate, only love. By continuing to fight together, more will survive and the more we will inspire. So we’ll continue to fight until the battle is won.
I wasn’t going to write about my volunteer experience last night, but finding myself with anxiety and exhaustion today I think it’s for the best. I began my Tuesday night with a visit with my Wish Kid, Liam, and his parents, as they’re back in the hospital for his second Stem Cell Transplant. After enjoying their company and Liam’s adorableness, I ran downstairs to change into my volunteer jacket for my shift. As I entered my first hospital room, I found myself missing Hazel & George even more. Actually, spending a week with them really helped me in my volunteer role as I’m more aware and comfortable around the Infant- 3 year old age group now.
I spent the majority of my shift with two infant girls, providing them with a little TLC before their bedtime. With my second patient, whose condition I will not disclose but can say that it’s caused her to lose her sight, I sat in the chair and rocked her to sleep as I found myself engaged in a great conversation with her nurse- again making me realize how passionate I am for this line of work.
When the nurse left to check on another patient, I found myself lost in a little daydream. Holding the little one, I imagined what it would be like to be holding my own child. My empathy for the parents who have children in the hospital sky-rocketed. After spending time with Rebecca and the kids last week, my perspective has grown as I realize exactly what it’s like to truly love another unconditionally. They gave me a gift that I’m going to give back to further my work with many kids & families for years to come, so thank you.
A few people near-and-dear to my heart have shared their concern for my constant travel and go-go-go lifestyle, that has really been the definition of this year. I’ve reassured them all that I’m fine and that things will slow down soon. Maybe. Don’t tell them, or do, but today I actually felt the repercussions of the go-go-go as the exhaustion set in as I began packing my suitcase for my trip to Columbus tomorrow night. But even with that momentary revelation, I know I won’t stop. Slow down, maybe, but I won’t stop. Because the truth is that the traveling to visit friends, the volunteering, and the little care packages are what I do to make me happy. Making others happy makes me happy and therefore, I won’t stop. I just can’t.
I’m just going to share this quote with you that I heard by Portia de Rossi today, in speaking about the impact that her wife, Ellen Degeneres, has had on her. I promise that I’ll be sharing this again, but for now I want to let her words leave a mark on your heart as they did on mine:
”I used to think that the way to be strong, was to be tough. I used to think that to be independent, was to not need anyone. But she’s taught me that the more vulnerable you and the softer you are, and the more you allow more people into your life and into your heart, the happier you are and the more valuable you are to other people.” ~Portia de Rossi
The post I wrote on Sunday, October 10th will explain the ideas behind the Unsent Love Letter Mix Tape series, and if it still doesn’t make sense to you, well then, at least it makes sense to me. The writer. The blogger. The girl behind the computer. Call me what you will but these are my letters. Love Letters. Some will be traditional love letters and some will be love letters of another sort. These are my love letters to those that I love…or once loved…or will one day love. Let me point out that my plan is not to send these letters, but to write them as though I was sending them.
Track 3 is written to the mother on the train yesterday. I do not judge this mother for ignoring her two young boys, for I do not know her nor her situation. Instead I hope this letter reaches her and allows her to open her heart and see the love that’s (literally) right in front of her.
Dear Mother on the Train,
You don’t know me, nor do I know you. Quite frankly, neither one of us would recognize the other if we passed on the street, especially since I never saw your face. All I saw was the back of you, pushing the stroller, as you stepped off the train at the Belmont stop.
I never saw your face because I made myself not look at you. I couldn’t look because I didn’t want your face to stick in my mind. I didn’t want the chance to think about you later on and judge you. It upset me just sitting there, watching your kids try to get your attention and you ignore them. It broke my heart, but I do not judge you. How can I? Again, I don’t know you nor your situation. Maybe you were having a bad day? Maybe you just had a loss in your family? Maybe you haven’t slept in 24-plus hours and you were down-right exhausted.
I do not judge you. How can I? I am not a mother with two young boys. I cannot judge you. Instead I send you love with the honest hope that you will pass along that love to your children- both whom love you.
I want to share some last thoughts with you based on my experiences, directly speaking of ones that occurred last night after riding the train with you and your sons. Let me say that I hope your boys are very healthy and you never have to be in such situations as I mention to you.
As a volunteer with a wish-granting organization and children’s hospital, I am honored to work with many children and families. Unfortunately the individuals that I work with are/have been touched with illness and/or disease, some incurable. I am telling you this with hope that it impacts you as much as it does me. I hope it inspires you to love, to be loved, and to value the time you have with your loved ones. Afterall it’s those small, precious moments in life that often mean the most, and the ones we miss the most when they’re no longer possible.
That’s one thing that working with these children and families has taught me: Appreciate the little things. Each and every one of them. So often we get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle that life, indeed, brings upon us. The truth is that in those moments we tend to turn against those that we love the most instead of turning to them for support. Let your loved ones put the smile back on your face.
While I will never wish ill will on you nor yours, but I do hope that you were just having a bad day yesterday. I hope that you were tired and tuning things out on the train as your way to relax. I hope that when I see your boys next time, I’ll be able to see them smiling and laughing with their mother.
Song of the Moment: Daughters by John Mayer