First and foremost, St. Jude has given me 11 more years with my daughter. Without their lifesaving treatment, I would not have been able to watch her grow into the graceful woman she has become.
My daughter’s battle with cancer gave me the courage to face a mother’s darkest fears. I believed I was a strong woman, as most mothers do, but I found out that my inner strength will support me when exhaustion and terror are battling to overcome me. St. Jude helped me find that strength as I watched my daughter battle for her life.
St. Jude showed me that cancer doesn’t discriminate. Whether they have lots of money, little money, from the big city or remote towns—St. Jude treats all children and their families with great respect despite family circumstances. I have found that I am more compassionate to those who seem different than me.
Not everyone handles life’s hurdles gracefully, especially while undergoing treatment for cancer. Now, when I am faced with rude behavior or am cut off on the highway, my first thought is that something stressful must be happening in that person’s life.
Without St. Jude working to find a cure for osteosarcoma, I wouldn’t have my daughter’s two gorgeous children.
6. APPRECIATION FOR THE OUTDOORS
I always enjoyed being outside, but after being in a position of only seeing the seasons pass by through a window because of a sick child, the great outdoors is truly great.
7. GRAY HAIR
I went from a few strands peppering my brown hair to someone who could pass for the bride of Frankenstein if my hair is parted just right. But, rather than cover my head with chemicals, I embrace that gray as a reminder of a journey I took with my child.
My daughter can have an eyelash out of place or have a tiny inflection in her voice, and I will pick up on those small nuances. I am more tuned in to her than I could possibly imagine, even after 11 years. This has transferred to other people, too. More times than not, I am right when I think I hear something troubling in a friend’s voice or actions.
When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, it is hard to trust that things will turn out for the best—whatever “best” might be. I learned to trust the doctors, the nurses, the drugs, my intuition, my daughter.
10. DESIRE TO PAY IT FORWARD
I know I can never repay friends and strangers for their kindness to our family when cancer hit our daughter. So, passing on kindness to others is a way of repaying those who gave of themselves in some way to help us. Pay for someone else’s coffee, make a meal for a co-worker, send a greeting card just to say hello….As Marlo Thomas says, “Be thankful for the healthy children in your life.” Give to St. Jude.”.
Abridged from Promise, Autumn 2014