Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Bald and the Beautiful


I have a deep and intimate relationship with cancer.  I wish I was admitting to having a deep and intimate relationship with Robert Downey, Jr., but that isn't the hand life dealt me.  Unfortunately, my parents were both ravaged by this ugly disease.  I was given a front row ticket to be a witness as my mom and dad bravely faced this monster in a battle to the death.  Neither of them stood a chance.  By the time each discovered their cancer, it had already riddled their bodies beyond repair, beyond any hope of recovery.  My father lived six months after his melanoma was found.  My mother, a victim of renal cell carcinoma, lived only two and half painful, agonizing months. 

When you watch a loved one suffer and die, it changes who you are.  I will forever feel like cancer took away a chunk of me as I watched them lower my mama into the ground.  It left a raw, open, vulnerable wound that won't ever heal.  It also made me fearful.  Every twinge, every sore throat, every unexplained symptom is cancer.  I live daily in terror that it will get me, too.  I've seen what it can do, and I wonder if I'm strong enough to kick it if it ever finds me.

Even though I quietly donate money regularly directly to the hospice house that took care of my mother and restored her right to die with dignity, I'm not a champion of charities.  There are a handful that are meaningful to me, and I do my best to support them.  It's not my style to be a cheerleader.  I'm more the Booster Club member who donates money so the marching band can get new hats.  There is one organization that has become special to me, though, and I am stepping out of my comfort zone to scream and jump around with pom poms over what they're doing this weekend.

I spent the entire month of September 2011 smiling, weeping and dreading what was to come as I read the story of a precious little girl named Donna.  You see, it's heartbreaking enough when an adult is faced with fighting cancer, but it's unthinkable that a child should ever have to look into the eyes of this demon.  I can't remember how I came across Donna's story, but her mother put their fight into words that touched me deeply.  I couldn't get her out of my mind, this little girl whom I would never meet.  I took those feelings that were still brewing over the loss of my own parents and imagined what it would be like if it were my daughter instead.

Donna's parents set up a charity in her name, Donna's Good Things. (I dare you to click on the link and not smile when you see her beautiful face.)  This weekend in Chicago, Donna's charity and the St. Baldrick's Foundation are hosting an event to raise money for cancer research.  So, what makes this so different?  The participants have not only signed up to raise money for the cause, but they are also SHAVING THEIR HEADS.  That's right.  Folks who have never even met Donna or her family have pledged not only their time and dollars but also their hair. Would you go bald to honor the memory of a child you have never met?  I am in awe of their commitment.

I'm proud to say that three of my blogger friends created a team and are shaving their heads for Donna's Good Things. Deb from The Monster in Your Closet, Chris over at From the Bungalow, and Karin from Pinwheels and Poppies are doing the deed this weekend.  Oh, and as a bonus, my favorite fellow spaz, Katy, from I Want A Dumpster Baby will be there to keep everyone smiling as their locks are falling to the floor.  It's not too late to donate if you are so inclined. I did, and it was completely painless.

I know that no amount of money raised or research conducted will bring back my parents or anyone else who lost the fight with cancer, but if one child is saved, it's worth it to me.  For that reason alone, I choose hope.

11 comments:

  1. Aw yeah baby! I'm so sorry you had to lose both parents to the horrible disease. You are a great cheerleader! I know, sorry. Xoxo

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  2. Girl...you KNOW how I feel about cheerleaders. :-) xoxoxoxo I'm there in spirit!!!

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  3. A beautiful post. You've got me crying. Thanks for the mention, and thanks for the donation. You and I and the rest of the folks involved in this event (and others like it), whether they be shavees, volunteers or donors, are all part of something good and just.

    I'm sorry for your loss. I can't imagine losing both parents. I am thankful to hospice care workers and to people like you who give up something for another's benefit.

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  4. Lots of love to you, friend. Thank you for your kind words. I am doing it for Donna and in hopes that fewer children will have to battle the beast. XoXo

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  5. So beautiful. I'm posting to my wall right now. I lost my grandmother to cancer and too many friends. Too many friends.

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  6. Beautiful! You reduced me to tears, especially when you mentioned Donna. I read her story over a 2 day period, mostly because even tho I went into it knowing how it ended, how can you not want to read those posts and look into that beautiful little girls eyes? I shared the pictures of that beautiful brave little girl with my own daughter as I read the posts shes 2.5 now and as happy I am that she is healthy it breaks my heart to know that there are children out there who aren't, who are having to fight this terrible disease that doesn't care about who you are, what your race is, or if you're young or old.

    Please forgive me for rambling, I follow almost all of these bloggers on facebook as well as their blogs, which is how I found you. I'm terribly sorry for the loss of both your parents. May you find peace in your heart for all the suffering you've had to endure watching them pass. *Hugs*

    Thank you for sharing this with us and I can't wait to see the shavees after they have had their heads shaved! You're all gonna be even more gorgeous afterwards!!!! <3

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  7. Thank you! This was a beautiful post! My thoughts and prayers are with that precious little one and her family.

    I watched my uncle slowly die...By the time his colon cancer was found, he was in for the fight of his life, and he lost. I remember the night he died, watching each breath go in, and hold for an agonizing amount of time...I held my breath each time, wondering, is this the end? Until the breath rattled out of his body again, I listened to his painful whimpering as he found no peace even in sleep. We shared stories, looked at pictures, and held a vigil over his bed. Early in the morning, either one AM or three AM we went home, and by the time I got up, he was gone. Not only has my uncle been taken, my grandmother had breast cancer, my aunt had cancer, another aunt had colon polyps, my dad has had colon polyps and melanoma. All the others have made it through, but my uncle was lost. Like you said, no amount of research or money can bring our loved ones back, but if we can save that precious baby girl, I'll take it as a win!

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  8. This was just another great post. I link to you on my blog because I'm such a fan! And your Facebook status updates make my day. Again, beautifully written. I shared it on Google+ and Facebook.

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  9. I didn't know this about you. My mom died from cancer almost 3 years ago (writing was one way I "got through it") and I was just thinking again today how it takes a chunk out of you. And how I live with the constant fear of "what if." What if I get it. What if I'm not strong enough.

    But I have a friend's little boy and two other friends who are fighting it now, so it's all I can do to just concentrate on the now. It's kind of maddening.

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  10. Thank u for writing this post my 13 year old friend died of cancer last night after fight for 3 years!! I just don't know how to handle this :'(

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    1. I'm so sorry!! You will be in my thoughts and prayers, and I know that you will find peace.

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