20 May Hello world!
What if the scariest thing about being a child was just being a child?
For the 480 kids who are diagnosed with cancer every single day, that’s their reality.
I know because I watched my friend live it.
On a beautiful summer afternoon almost four years ago, my best friend, Tami, called to tell me she was worried about her eight-year old daughter. Weight gain, lethargy, stomach aches and a host of other symptoms sent her to the doctor. Panic set in as she was whisked from waiting room to waiting room. The ensuing string of tests confirmed her worst fear–CANCER.
It’s a scary word for grownups, terrifying for a child. And so what do you say when the person you love almost more than anything else in the entire world texts you in the middle of the night to tell you her nightmare is just beginning?
I didn’t know what to do, so I asked her a simple question.
“How can I help?”
It was a question that would be repeated many times between us over the course of the next six months. Friends, and even strangers, who heard Audrey’s story would say, “How can I help?”
But despite the phone calls and the visits and the food, there’s only one thing a cancer mom really wants for her daughter–A CURE.
Fast forward three years.
As much as I wanted to help my friend through the darkest time in her life, I didn’t feel like I was equipped to do much of anything. As much as I wanted to bring comfort to Audrey, I didn’t really know what she needed. And as much as I wanted to help find a cure for cancer, the reality is that I’m only a mom myself.
SO WHAT COULD AN ORDINARY PERSON DO?
I’ve been working with young girls nearly all of my adult life–as a camp counselor, a student mentor, and a small group leader in my church. Then two years ago, my friend, Ginny, and I started a leadership program for fourth and fifth grade girls in our community. What we found is that young children are not only naturally compassionate, but also have a strong desire to make a difference.
When we introduced Sparkle, our first doll for a cause, they rallied. We had hit on something big!
Here is this doll, who is both adorable and functional. She has hair that actually comes off. She has a port in her chest. She comes with a book and a card for connecting with other families. The doll comforts the child experiencing cancer as well as her friends. BUT…more importantly, this doll comforts the parents because a portion of the proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research and treatment.
Every day, 480 children are diagnosed with cancer. That’s 480 mommies and daddies looking for a lifeline, for someone to say, “I’m with you,” and who by answering the question “How can I help?” will begin to understand that they are not alone.
ForeverWE was born from the idea that we are a community–every one of us–experiencing hard seasons and painful transitions, spreading both joy and pain, and all of us just trying to figure out how to be the best version of ourselves in this life we’ve been given. Friends, we cannot do it without each other. We belong to one another. At ForeverWE, our mission is to nurture the opportunity to live together with meaning and purpose.
Audrey beat cancer, but her fight is not over. For her and for the thousands of other children who have fought and won, there is still a long road ahead of them. Side effects and long-term risks, even other cancers, will always be a threat. And although Audrey won’t let her cancer define who she’ll become, her cancer will always be a part of her story.
It’s not about a doll.
It’s about us all.
For more information about ForeverWE or to be notified about pre-orders for Sparkle, our first Doll for a Cause, please subscribe to this blog or use the contact form at the top of this page.