Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why It Still Stinks. And How You Can Help. Even Just A Little.

I am always so happy when I see a comment from someone on this site, or on Kendrie’s Caringbridge site, about how the stories and photos of her, a pediatric cancer survivor; growing, thriving, blooming, and about how she is inspiring to others. I am more than happy and proud to hold her up as a picture of hope to other families who are still in the fray of cancer treatment, or perhaps to people who haven’t been affected personally, but who still care about the cause of pediatric cancer research and treatments. I am still working, albeit behind the scenes, and very slowly, on the book project that Julianna Banana’s dad and I mentioned last year, in the hopes I can continue to help newly-diagnosed families.

Our family was blessed that Kendrie was diagnosed in the period she was, a period where thanks to research and clinical drug trials, children receive better treatments, more successful treatments. Survival statistics for leukemia have improved dramatically in the last thirty or forty years, and for that we should all be thankful. But it’s still not enough.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many people don’t know that. Many people also don’t know that funding for pediatric cancer research has been cut recently, and only one new chemotherapy drug has been approved for pediatric cancer treatment in the last twenty years. Think about where the AIDS crisis was twenty years ago and imagine if they hadn’t made the wonderful progress they’ve made. Think about breast cancer research and the fabulous strides they’ve made in the past twenty years. Pediatric cancer research is equally as important --- it’s just that these little victims aren’t able to make as much noise about it.

One of our friends from the Lighthouse Family Retreat died this week. A beautiful young girl named Summer Curry, from just an hour down the road. She and her twin brother Hunter, her marrow donor (that’s right, just because you have a transplant doesn’t mean you’re cured -- did you know that?) were both baptized in the ocean during our week at the Lighthouse this summer. It was a touching, emotional, poignant moment for all of us who were fortunate enough to be included, and my heart is breaking for this family today. Summer should have been gearing up for her first year of middle school, and making plans to attend the Jonas Brothers concert at the fair next month. Not this. Never this.

A boy named Mitchell from my hometown is in the hospital right now, with the same type of leukemia Kendrie has. He attends the school where my children will go when we move home; he plays baseball on the same team as my nephew. My sister and my nephew adore him and his family; he is funny, and smart, and athletic. They are kind, strong, amazing people. Their unshakable faith, at this time of crisis, is nothing short of inspirational and amazing. I talked to his mom once, at a 4th of July celebration, and we discussed having kids with cancer. The worries, the fears, the bittersweet victories. I doubt she remembers me, but she was lovely. I liked her a lot. Mitch will most likely not be coming home from the hospital. We talk a lot about miracles, but at this point, it will take a true miracle for an earthly healing for him. His family knows that, according to the website. Does that make it ok? Or easier to face what is happening to this child? No, of course not. Mitchell should be busy playing fall ball, and avoiding girl cooties, and dealing with the hazards of fourth-grade homework. Not this. Never this.

I don’t know what the answer is. What do we have to do, as a society, to ensure children no longer suffer and die from cancer? There are so many wonderful organizations out there, all doing good work, important work. Sometimes I feel impotent, like how can I help? I’m just one little person, what can I do to make a difference? I guess the important thing is if enough of us feel that way, and do something about it, things might change. Or perhaps *keep* changing is a better way of putting it --- keep improving. ALL pediatric cancers should have 100% success rates; that is the only acceptable statistic in my mind. And we shouldn’t have to lose the Summers and the Mitchells of the world to galvanize us into action.

If you’re willing, you can help. Chili’s has a promotion with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as they have done for several years, and will be donating 100 percent of their profits on Monday, Sept 24th, to the hospital. I mean, you have to eat, right? So why not eat at Chili’s tomorrow and know you’ve done a small part to help fight the fight. If you don’t have a Chili’s near you, you can go online and create a pepper, then donate. Our family is unable to attend tomorrow night (I’m telling you, seriously, the soccer quagmire has begun) but Blaine and I will be going for lunch tomorrow. And I’ll make a pepper in memory of Summer, and in honor of Mitchell. And wish that I could do more --- try, always, to think of a way that I could do more.


Jenny said...

Preach it sister! Preach it loud.
Tre', Jenny, and Izzy

Grandma J said...

Thank you, Kristie. Don't ever let anyone forget the names and faces of our Childhood Cancer Heros.

I love eating at Chili's and they have a great turn out every year for Childhood Cancer. People can also visit a children's cancer ward in a hospital, or do something fun like the Light the Night Walk in their area. It's easy, and fun (music, food raffles) while raising $$ for research.

I am doing the walk in Austin and as I put my banner together with the names of Survivor Heros and Memorial Heros I am realizing how many kids have lost their battle. This shouldn't be.
God bless the families who suffer the loss of their children. I hate cancer.

The Running Girl said...

Geesh. I thought you were slowing down on your blogging and I decided to check tonight and I've missed 4 posts! But I'm glad. Soccer is in full session for us as well. Dalton's team played an all girl team on Saturday. It was interesting to watch. I think at first the boys were afraid to get rough with the girls (like they would if they were playing other boys), but by the second half the game was on. The boys won by the way.

I've also put a note on my blog about eating at Chili's tomorrow. Any time I see an opportunity to raise money for cancer research, I do. If people before me hadn't done their share, my brother-in-law may not be here today. So while I'm here and can, I'll do my share. And that's also why I'll continue to raise money.

I'm so glad Kendrie is doing well and I hope your book project is going well.

Becky said...

Thank you for the reminder.

I keep meaning to email you and tell you that I've joined Team in Training and will be cycling in the El Tour de Tucson in November with Kendrie's name proudly written on my jersey. (If you don't mind.)

I've been reading your site for years now and you've all inspired me to do what I can to help. I just wish we could do something to make this disease go away forever.

Dianna in Louisiana said...

Perspective--- Thank you Kristie---We'll be eating a Chili's tomorrow and whether it's next year or in a decade, I'll be buying that book.

Sherrill said...

You should be receiving a "Pepper" and thanks for the reminder... I'll be there eating something yummy... and thinking of you all... and the other CB kiddos past, present and God Help Us - Future.

With Love and Abundant Joy!

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

Okay so you made me cry is not just luck, or faith that get your child through cancer- why do some children live and beat all the odds and some not make it through the cancer with the best odds...EAT AT CHILIS tomorrow people! It could be your child, your nephew, your neighbor, your can't turn your back- I never dreamed my kid would have cancer-but shit happens...September is CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH- even though all my local stores have Breast Cancer Awareness sign up.

Anonymous said...

My family is meeting up with another family for dinner tonight at Chilis. In honor of and in memory of all the kids we've learned about through Caringbrigde and other sites. So happy that Kendrie is so healthy!!! Can't wait for dinner tonight!!!
Claire in TX

Renee' said...

We'll be at Chili's tonight!

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful children with such amazing families!

You are doing a lot. You're continuing the fight even though you're not in the middle of it anymore. You're reminding us who have only watched from the sidelines and found CB kids to pray for and remember to support the fight in as many ways as we can.

I'll find a few friends and we'll go to Chili's for lunch, too.

God Bless you!

Dixie in CA

Denise Tidwell said...

I remember getting to eat with you all last year at Chili's and was hoping to do the same this year. Haley has soccer tonight as well, so it's just Cam and I. Hope I get to see you this weekend at the Quiet Heroes lunch/auction! Take care.

Amy said...

I took my daughter to lunch today at Chili's just like last year.

Anonymous said...

I ate lunch today at Chili's.


Anonymous said...

Good food and helping in the fight against cancer, can't beat that! No dishes and no guilt over the lack of home cooked meal tonight :-) Thanks for the reminder.


Michelle, Al. said...

Beautiful and touching post, thanks Kristie!

KathyA said...

And this column, Kristie, is exactly why you should keep blogging.

I've been reading your blogs since practically the first Kendrie stories and have always enjoyed your observations. You've made me laugh more than a few times, you've made me cry more times than that. You've connected me with other families for whom I can pray, you've showed steadfast love for your husband and your children, you've re-introduced me to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and made me really really listen to the words.
When you first wrote about moving, I felt a deep loss, as though a beloved next-door neighbor was leaving. Then I realized that despite the move, you'd be as close to me as you ever were. Weird feeling, that, to a 58 year old.
I know that some folks like to blog. I suspect that you do as well. Yes, it takes up time, yes, you can get writer's block, yes, you sometimes get those annoying trolls that just HAVE to make a nasty comment, but by and large, you are doing something fantastic.

I am a professional storyteller, and my passion is sharing stories that link the commonality in us all. It's important to me for us to see each other as brothers and sisters sharing like experiences in the journey through life. While I cannot say that I have had someone close to me die of cancer (My grandfather did, but I was 5 at the time and don't really remember him), your story has created in me an empathy for all cancer victims. I talk to them differently, I perceive them differently, I try to help in a different way, all because of you.

When I read your posts about your kids, I think to myself "If I had been able to have children, I'll bet that I'd have been a mother like Kristie". I just hope that I would have been as cool. You might not think of yourself in that way, but I can tell you that in the future, that is the way your children will think of you.

All I've been able to do here is to advise you to buy Lee jeans (we obviously have the same waist/butt/hips issues. You've given me much, much more than that.

Thank you for your generosity in sharing your trials, your journey, your joys with us. I"ll keep reading and hope that you never decide to close this blog down. It's just too darned good and too much fun!