46 Mommas

Not for lack of want, I have not “announced” my inclusion in the 2011 Class of “Mommas”. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I am a late entry because I’m replacing a Momma who is unable to attend because her child has had a change in their health status. Not a great feeling. But please know…I have followed and admired the 46 Mommas since I first saw them last year. So let’s go through a little history on this and the why.

First of all, none of us…ok, I’m speaking for me but I feel fairly confident that this is not a step most of us would take without the desire to do something, decidedly obvious, to draw attention to the world we were drawn into by hearing the words, “Your child has cancer.” Those who have known me for years, know I loathe doing anything drastic to my hair. Bangs? Oh my heavens no! Of course, I have deep seeded issues around this subject. (enter the time machine music….is there such a thing? Ok, maybe not but follow me back to high school for a minute.)

I worked a hair salon shampooing hair my junior year. Yeah, not exactly the internship at the White House but it put gas in my ’76 Mustang…gosh I still love that car. So anywayyyyy…there I am one Friday night and this one stylist had just returned from NYC armed with this “awesome” hair cut she had learned, and can she try it on me? Naive me…well is it short? (This question coming from the girl one cut away from the “bob” she’s been dying to achieve.) The answer…no. Silly me. The first cut I remember was large and heavy handed, sweeping down the middle of the back of my head…my head actually pulled back from the force of it. For a second I contemplated saying stop…I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail for a however long to get it back to “normal”…but I didn’t, I think I was in shock. I left choking back tears already dreading going to school and facing the, ‘what did you do to your hair?’ questions. Needless to say, my “bob” was, at this point, a thing of the past.

I guess I should also make a public apology to my then prom date (2 weeks out…OMG, the horror). Really, Dave…I had no idea, it wasn’t intentional.

Ok, so that’s done. Seriously, I HATE getting my hair cut by anyone but my sister-in-law, Beth. (Sidebar, this Beth is my brother’s wife…I have 2 sister-in-law’s named Beth, Stan’s sister and my brother’s wife…yeah, confusing at times.)

But then you experience the world of childhood cancer.

A world where little boys and girls routinely lose their hair. Something that I would have found horrifying earlier in my life, they handle with incredible grace and poise. To some degree, I was blessed to have a child too young to know he was losing his hair due to the horrific drugs being pumped into his system to combat the war being waged on his body by cancer. That being said, I remember the first time I saw a clump of his baby hair fall out. I was overcome with sadness. His silken hair, the same hair I rubbed my cheek on when we snuggled and he caressed as he fell asleep, falling out. I remember thinking I needed to figure out a way to replicate that feeling for him. My Mom came to my mental rescue on this one and made him small blankets with this fuzzy, hair like material that I could place between his head and hand so he could have that same experience….ok, that sounds totally icky as I type but it was super soft and Declan loved it.

So back to now. Yes, I hate getting my hair cut but it’s such a non-event in my mind when I think about the 46 Mommas. It is a means to a potential end and an opportunity to raise more awareness. What if my shaving my head along with these brave women hits home with one more person…or two or two thousand or two hundred thousand? Of course it’s worth it. It’s about awareness. It’s about raising awareness.

So next Wednesday, I’m standing side by side with my 45 new Momma friends. 46 standing in support of the 46 new families who will learn their child has been diagnosed with cancer, each day. 46 each day…that’s why we’re 46 Mommas. 46 new kids…a day.

Will you join me in fighting this battle? If you live in the DC area, I would love to have you there to cheer me/us on next Wednesday at Union Station. Check out the link below for details. If you can’t be there…will you tell our story? The one of 46 Mommas coming together to honor their children battling, surviving or being remembered in a very personal way.


9/11 reflections

As I imagine many of you did, I spent time reflecting on the events of 9/11 yesterday. I began my day by lighting a candle we received as a gift of comfort. The candle is from a non-profit called Heartworks in Bernardsville, NJ which was formed ‘in response to the kindness that sustained so many families in the months and years after September 11, 2001.’ The candle was burned at a 2009 September 11th memorial service and was blessed by the family members gathered. ‘It was blessed by the family members gathered at the Mass. So that by lighting it, their faith, endurance and resiliency are now being shared with you.’ We have lit this candle on many occasions and enjoyed the comfort of its glow.

I started yesterday by lighting this candle in rememberance of those who lost their lives in New York City, in Shanksville, PA and in our Nations Capital…just a short ride for where I sit now. The candle is now almost gone and I felt it was only right the final day it would be lit in our house was 9/11.

As I lay in bed last night I reflected on that day 10 years ago and the days that followed. The shock, disbelief and uneasy feeling that life as we knew it would never really be the same again. During my reflections, Declan weaved his way into my thoughts as he does so many times throughout each day, and I was struck with the similarities between the emotions we felt on 9/11 and the feelings a family deals with upon learning their child has cancer. How, in each case, a terrorist has invaded our lives and changed the fabric of our life. Different types of terrorists but each silent in their assault, each devastating to the structure it has attacked…to lives it has invaded.

In retrospect, the feelings I felt on 9/11 were almost identical to those I felt when I heard Declan had cancer. The initial shock and disbelief…are my eyes / ears deceiving me? In the days that followed, I remember watching the families desperately trying to find their loved ones. In the days that followed Declan’s diagnosis, we were frantically searching to find the right hospital, doctor and desperately hoping for the best in the worst possible situation. Then the realization that life would not be the same for us or Declan, that we were battling a new war…for the US, a war against a new form of terrorism; for our family, a war against a stealth and relentless terrorist invading the body of our child.

Just as worldwide terrorism still lives today, so does the battle being waged against childhood cancer. It is why we continue to Journey 4 A Cure. As I type this and reflect upon the huge task ahead of us, Stan just let me know dear sweet Gabby lost her battle last night. To say I am crushed is an understatement. Please pray for her family and all those fighting the terrorist that is cancer.