**Quiet (kwi’it) adj. 1. making little or no noise or sound 2. free or comparatively free from noise 3. silent 4. restrained in speech or manner etc. etc.
Ok, well, THAT’S not me!
**Hero (her’o) 1. a man of distinguished courage or ability admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities 2. any person who has heroic qualities 3. the principal male character in a story 4. an individual possessing godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a deity
Well, I’ve got to admit that #4 is intriguing…. But it’s really not me, either.
Yet, despite the fact I am neither quiet nor heroic, I was thrilled yesterday to be invited to attend the CureSearch Quiet Heroes luncheon, honoring the moms (and a few dads) of children with cancer.
(In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this journal entry is ALL. ABOUT. ME.)
This luncheon was the brainchild of Chris Glavine, wife of NY Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, who works with the MLB Commissioner’s Initiative for Kids, which lists CureSearch as one of their beneficiaries. Chris’s idea, and then put together with the hard work and tireless efforts of Kristin Connor and the numerous CureSearch workers and volunteers.
Chris (since I don’t know her personally, I feel it would be more respectful to call her Mrs. Glavine, but I’ve got to be at least ten years older than her, so then *that* sounds silly, too) wanted to do something to pay tribute to moms of kids with cancer …. the “Quiet Heroes”. She stated in her welcome speech yesterday that it started out as an intimate gathering, perhaps a hundred people total, where moms could be made to feel special for a day and enjoy one another’s company. A time of reflection, celebration, comfort, and understanding among peers. And despite the fact the event grew to include several hundred people, from all over the country, they certainly managed to accomplish all of those things!
I so very much enjoyed getting to visit with the moms I’ve met online, at Camp Sunshine, The Lighthouse, while inpatient, while at clinic, etc. Friends of friends, Caringbridge sites that I follow, people who kindly follow our Caringbridge site, members of the medical community, etc. And especially, the people who worked so hard to put the event together, and the sponsors and volunteers who donated their time, efforts, money, gifts, silent auction items, and most of all, their love and support for the moms who were able to attend.
We had a wonderful meal at the Westin in Atlanta and were able to enjoy the keynote speakers Linda Armstrong Kelly … mom to that guy, oh, what’s his name? The one that rides a bike around???? (Kidding, of course. The part of her speech I found most amusing was when she admitted that while pregnant with Lance, she wanted a girl and planned to name her Erica, after “Erica Kane” on All My Children …. )
I enjoyed the first keynote speaker even more, Liz Scott, mom to Alex Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand. If you are not familiar with Alex Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, it’s an inspiring story of selflessness and compassion; a touching story of a little girl with neuroblastoma who accomplished more in a few short years than most adults do in a lifetime. While it sounds insensitive to say I “enjoyed” Liz Scott’s speech, I can honestly say I was touched and so grateful for the opportunity to hear her, and even managed to laugh between the tears.
In addition to the luncheon, goody bags and gifts on our tables (thank you again to the sponsors and donors!) there was also a Silent Auction/fundraiser beforehand that I sincerely hope raised a boatload of money for CureSearch. Yes, it’s fabulous that CureSearch worked with Chris Glavine to honor the moms … but the most admirable work they do is continually raising funds to research a cure and bring awareness for childhood cancer. Raising funds is HUGE, and I was happy to help out by bidding on (and winning!) a 3-night stay in a Callaway Gardens villa! Although Blaine gave me some good-natured grief for spending that much money, I know our family will love the getaway and it’s easy to justify when you consider the cause. And a big thank you to Denise, who surprised me by outbidding me on an item I wanted and then giving it to me as a gift ….. pretty classy, if I say so myself! Thank you, Denise!
As I looked around the table, there was no doubt in my mind that I was sitting amongst heroes. You can visit their children’s sites and read story after story of chemo, radiation, surgery, transplant …. and more importantly, courage, hope, and love. And as I looked around the room, I saw even more:
Brady's mom, Gwen's mom, Camp Jack's moms, Madie's mom, Jacob's mom, Benjamins' mom, Jack's mom, Will's mom, Joshua's mom, and William's mom, just to name a few. I know there are others that I've missed .... Special tribute going out to Hayley's parents and Carter's family for sharing the day with everyone.
And even more moms and dads that I’ve never met and probably will never meet.
The timing of this luncheon was profound to me, for several reasons. First of all, of course, is the fact it was held one day before the anniversary of 9/11. People all across our country suffered, and continued to suffer, the effects of that tragic day. Currently, people in our country are suffering the effects of Hurricane Katrina. While so many of the news reports disturbed me to the point of turning off the TV, I am especially haunted by the elderly, the infirm, and the children. And even more especially (which I think is appropriate, given our place in life) by the children whose cancer care has been disrupted by the hurricane. I can’t imagine how frightening it would be if Scottish Rite blew away and we were left floundering to receive critical care for Kendrie. I know the care is out there, and I’m hopeful people are able to receive it without too much trouble, but sometimes I just wonder, when is enough, enough for these people?
There was an outpouring of public and government support after 9/11, as there should have been. There appears to be an outpouring of support for the victims of Katrina, as well there should be. Childhood cancer is not yet getting support on that scale, but the people at CureSearch are working to change that. Events like yesterday’s Quiet Heroes Luncheon can only help to highlight *our* tragedy, the one our families live with day in and day out.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that? Does anybody know that? I know what month October is. Who doesn’t? September will long be remembered for the anniversary of a tragic event in NYC, and now, one of the greatest natural disasters in our country’s history. The littlest victims in our country deserve attention, too.
I’m rambling now, aren’t I? And what makes it worse is that I sound ungrateful. I just wish everyone in our nation could be as outraged that kids are dying of cancer --every single day-- as they are about the other terrible things that have happened.
So for now, I will pause in my gratefulness for people like Chris Glavine, Kristin Connor, and CureSearch who are helping us both short-term and long-term, and thank them for recognizing the moms …. the quiet heroes, and hope that the smallest, most innocent heroes get the help and recognition they need to beat this disease once and for all. The “Mistress of Ceremonies” yesterday ended the luncheon with the comment that she thought this was a wonderful event, and she hoped the first of many … that she hoped to see us at the next one hundred and fifty. I understood her sentiment; it was a heartwarming day and deserves to be repeated … but I turned to my dear friend Jenny sitting next to me and said, “Good heavens, I hope she’s wrong. It would be better if we never had a need for one of these luncheons again.”
There are lots of schmaltzy poems on the internet about Motherhood….. and although I don’t normally consider myself a schmaltz kind of person, I’ll leave you with my favorite today:
I loved you from the very start,
You stole my breath, embraced my heart.
Our life together has just begun,
You’re part of me, my little one.
I daydream of the things we’ll share,
Like late-night bottles and teddy bears.
Like first-steps and skinned knees,
Like bedtime stories and ABC’s.
I think of things you’ll want to know,
Like how birds fly and flowers grow.
I think of lessons I’ll need to share,
Like standing tall and playing fair.
When I first saw your precious face,
I prayed your life be touched with grace.
I thanked the angels from above,
And promised you unending love.
Each night I lay you down to sleep,
I gently kiss your head and cheek,
I count your fingers and your toes,
I memorize your eyes and nose.
I linger at your bedroom door,
Awed each day how I love you more.
Through misty eyes, I dim the light,
I whisper “I love you” every night.
I loved you from the very start,
You stole my breath, embraced my heart.
As mother and child, our journeys begun,
My heart is yours forever, little one.
Have a great day,
PS. We have two friends who are really struggling right now and I'd like to ask you to visit their sites and give them some encouragment: Clare from Maryland, whose parents have set aside Monday morning at 10am for a world-wide moment of prayer, thoughts, and well wishes for Clare and she continues to struggle in her ALL relapse treatment. Also, Jay from Georgia, whose family attends our local support group. Jay is in Memphis receiving experimental treatment at St. Jude for his medulloblastoma relapse and I know his parents, Cindy and Jason, could really use some encouragement. You might not think something as simple as a kind note from a total stranger in a guestbook can be as heart-lifting as it can ... but trust me ... those notes are priceless and mean more to us parents than you could ever know.