Anh Sundstrom began supporting St. Jude while in college in California. As a new mother, she gained insight into the struggles of moms dealing with a child's cancer diagnosis, and all mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Motherhood has changed me in so many ways, and for that I am truly grateful. I live in the “now,” soaking up every moment, big and small. I’m more patient, more focused on things that truly matter. And with my little girl’s help, I’m finally becoming a bona fide baker.
One of the best parts of motherhood outside of the bond with my daughter, however, is bonding with fellow mothers. Through 9to5chic, I have been able to connect with a wonderful community of strong and supportive women, including the brave moms at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Motherhood is not without its challenges though, such as anxiety and fear, particularly around events beyond our control. Author Elizabeth Stone once said motherhood “... is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” That statement rings true for me as I reflect on those topsy-turvy postpartum days of being a new mom pulled in so many directions.
It is perhaps what all of us are feeling currently in the COVID-19 crisis. And I can only imagine that St. Jude moms feel this even more intensely as they fight for their child’s health. They are heroes in my eyes.
My interest in St. Jude began in college at UC San Diego. As a freshman activities chair for my sorority, I organized the letter-writing fundraising campaign. I loved learning about the amazing scientific advances St. Jude has been a part of since opening its doors in 1962.
On my first visit to the St. Jude campus in Memphis in 2017, I was greeted by an incredibly well-spoken and passionate guide. Upon learning that he was, himself, a patient of St. Jude many years earlier, I felt what I can only describe as simultaneous heartbreak (for his pain in enduring a serious childhood illness) and a heart bursting with joy. Here was a man who came back to the place that healed him so he could help and heal many others behind him. I knew I was right where I needed to be: learning about this incredible hospital and meeting the incredible people who make it happen.
When I visited St. Jude for last year’s Mom Boss Summit, I was honored to be invited to sit on a panel alongside strong women whose experiences with motherhood were as varied as their backgrounds. As a first-generation Asian-American, that diversity spoke volumes to me – I knew it reflected the original mission of St. Jude.
St. Jude’s mission has been, since the very beginning, to treat children from all over the world regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. Danny Thomas’ incredibly radical, revolutionary idea was met with resistance every step of the way, from building the hospital in Memphis to integrating the hospital staff and demanding that hotels serve all patient families no matter the color of their skin. Determined, he forged ahead in an era when such ideas were uncommon. “They said it was impossible … it was a task which would break my heart,” he said then.
We are in different challenging times now. Yet together, nothing is impossible. And as all moms know, it takes a village. It also takes having kindness, compassion and, like Danny, courage to move us all forward.
We can all find ways to nurture one another during this time: by cheering for healthcare workers with our neighbors every night, by getting face-time with our loved ones on Zoom, by baking blueberry muffins. But especially by soaking up all the moments, big and small. I have found my inspiration in those strong patient moms at St. Jude who fight fiercely for their children and hold fast to hope even in the darkest of times.