We are now five years removed from our daughter, Sierra's, experience of leukemia, and her miraculous recovery. While still not completely whole, the effects fade a bit more with each passing year. As she prepares to begin college in the fall, we are filled with gratitude and my thoughts turn to all of the amazing pediatric oncology patients we've met. Some of their journeys have ended tragically, and they've left an indelible mark on our hearts. I wanted to take on a big challenge that would honor them, and help those who are currently fighting the battle. For me, this is a huge undertaking, filled with perils and uncertainty. I'm not at all sure if I can do it. But the challenge pales in comparison to the uncertainty and dangers faced by these courageous kids each moment of their treatment. If I can gather a small fraction of their strength and fortitude, I feel that I have a good shot at making it across. One of the organizations that had a profoundly positive impact on Sierra's healing, is Lucy’s Love Bus™. Their mission is to deliver comfort and quality of life to pediatric cancer patients by providing funds for free integrative therapies, and to engage young people in activism and philanthropy through Lucy's KidCorps™ program.
Lucy Grogan was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (the same diagnosis as Sierra's). Throughout Lucy's long illness, concerned individuals like you raised money to help support Lucy. Lucy, learned about the benefits of integrative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, art therapy, and therapeutic horseback riding during her treatment.
When Lucy was 11, she told her mother that when she was "done with cancer" she wanted to start a program that would provide free integrative therapies to all children with cancer to help manage the side effects and late effects of traditional cancer treatment. Since 2006, generous supporters have helped us deliver love and comfort to over 750 children with cancer.
We have learned that one of the most fatal qualities of an extended in-patient treatment for cancer was its ability to erase the idea of a future beyond treatment and outside the walls of the hospital. In the mind of a young patient with a fresh diagnosis, their past and present are annihilated, but it was the annihilation of the future that was the most chilling. For a child to maintain hope and a happy vision for the future is of the utmost importance to their overall healing. Cancer can negate the possibility of life outside and beyond itself; it subsumes all living. The daily life of a patient becomes so intensely preoccupied with his or her illness that the world fades away. Every morsel of energy is spent tending to the disease. For some, the day-to-day ritual of survival utterly blots out any thoughts of survivorship in the long run. The poet Jason Shinder wrote, "Cancer is a tremendous opportunity to have your face pressed right up against the glass of your mortality." But what patients see through the glass is not a world outside cancer, but a world taken over by it - cancer reflected endlessly around them like a hall of mirrors.
Both Lucy's Love Bus, and Make-A-Wish are incredibly compassionate and effective at helping kids with life-threatening illnesses to navigate the murky waters of treatment, and life beyond their illness. Please sponsor my swim by making a tax-deductible contribution to one or both of these fine organizations that are truly making a measurable difference for countless families like ours.