Kids Conquering Cancer

Most of you reading this blog know that my dad passed away from cancer in 2010. Before he was diagnosed in 2005, cancer was just a word that flew around in the abstract. I didn’t really think about it because I was fortunate to not have to. After that day, I think about it all the time. But this week, I have found myself thinking about the positive side of cancer, if there is one. I’ve been exposed to a number of stories recently about kids and cancer. They aren’t all happy endings but they are all stories of kids conquering cancer in one way or another.

The first story is about one of my students. Obviously, I can’t go into too much detail. But the short version is that his father is fighting stage four cancer. If you saw him around school, you would have no idea there was such a struggle going on at home. He’s the happiest kid we have. Teachers enjoy teaching him and other students want to be him. And they have no idea what he goes home to… or maybe they do and they are being thoughtful enough to give him those few hours of escape each day to just be a kid. Either way, each time I see him I want to hug him. Which I know I can’t do. So instead, I continue to admire his strength from afar and I pray for his father every day. My kid is conquering cancer by not letting it steal his childhood.

The next story is about a courageous young girl from my old neighborhood. I learned about her story from some of the teachers I used to work with. Gabriella was 9-years-old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Unfortunately, she lost her life in October of this year. But in the 11 months between her diagnosis and her death, Gabriella made more of an impact on this world than most people will in their whole lives. She collected over 240,000 “Dear Santa” letters which raised hope and money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She shared her story through video blogs posted on Facebook and urged people to pay attention to this devastating disease and the effect it is having on our future generation. After her passing, the federal government has decided to name their most recent medical research act for this courageous little girl. So while her body gave out on her, Gabriella’s spirit will continue to conquer cancer through this medical act and the foundations she established during her short life.

My final story about kids conquering cancer is about a 5-year-old named Abby who has amazing parents and a grandmother with cancer. She lives with her family quite near to me in California, but I heard about them through a friend from VA. Abby wanted to do something to help her “Lala” while going through treatment, so they put together a survival kit. This wasn’t enough for this determined little girl though and she wanted to do more. Instead of stifling her goals, her parents worked out a plan to get their friends, family, and strangers (like me!) to deliver 1,000 purple bags full of encouragement and hope to cancer patients across the country. You can read all about Abby’s story on the blog her mom just started, which shows the impact faith has had on their family.  On their Facebook page, there is a great list of suggested materials to include and a note about Abby to help explain her cause. I plan to gather what supplies I can from our friends and assemble some purple bags for Abby. Although, she already has California colored in on her map, so we might have to get creative and reach across state lines. If not, we can help Abby conquer cancer and reach her goal of 1,000 purple bags.

I hope these stories haven’t made you too sad, because for me they remind me of the silver linings in life. They remind me to smile on the tough days because you never know who else might need to see your smile. They remind me of the good in the world instead of focusing on the bad. These kids inspire me to be a better person and give me hope that we can conquer cancer through small, meaningful actions in our daily lives.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Oliver
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 06:17:56

    This is well put, & simply beautiful. You will receive an envelope from me (probably on Monday) w/some articles I thought might interest you. Gabby’s obit & story are among them. Dr. Hatrick has declared Monday, Nov. 18th as “cracking walnuts” day in LCPS. We are having a jeans days fundraiser at CTY. This week, we had a jeans day at school for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Of course, Laura Luhman is always 1st in my mind, especially now that she works at our school. I haven’t shared her story w/anyone, & have no idea if others are aware. I’ll forward you the lovely story our AP wrote about her dad, which brought tears to my eyes. He is a survivor. And of course, amazing Meesha continues to inspire & encourage all those whose lives she touches. I was very adamant about not saying or writing that Dad had “lost his battle,” as so many tales say; because I, too, was hopeful that cancer taught our family & friends many good things. I do not feel that cancer won anything. It was simply the way that he left his earthly body & time here w/us. But our faith, love & support team continue to feel his spirit among us. He truly “lives on” in his family. By sharing his story, & others whose paths we cross, we are making a positive difference in what could be a devastating negative.

    Much love & hugs! Thanks for the call. It always makes me smile, laugh & brightens my day to hear your voice. JMom



  2. Raymond Oliver
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 15:57:53

    Karen, Thanbks. We went through the whole thing with Ray again, Wonderful to see you doing such good things. Blessings G Dad -G Mom O



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