So today is the Last Day of Brain Tumor and NF awareness month.
Tomorrow it will be like this whole ugly business never happened, especially if I go and blog about something like Jersey humidity or what kind of cake I am craving.
That would almost always be yellow cake with buttercream icing, just as an fyi. As much as I love chocolate everything, I prefer yellow cake. You’re welcome.
So, now what? Now, you few brave souls who slogged through this tale of woe, now you are left at June 1, the summer shining not too far off. You also are probably totally like “HOLY CRAP, no WONDER she is a terrifying Jersey-girl-snark-attack-amazon-beast woman most of the time! She used to be so timid!” as you look for the nearest emergency exit. Heck, that’s how I feel after writing this for a month.
Even I didn’t totally realize how bad it was, these last nearly 9 years. Yeeks.
You do whatcha gotta do, you know?
|G, May 2013|
And once you get past establishing that yes, you are out of range of my scariness, you are probably like, so now what?
Well, I heard on Oprah radio this morning (don’t judge), “pain brings purpose” (it was an interview with Fran Drescher, she was talking about surviving cancer). I know for our family, pain DOES bring purpose. The two times I ran half marathons were fueled almost entirely by my anger and pain. And Clif bars. Ok, and hazelnut coffee. Our Coffeehouse gives purpose to our pain. Dave jumping in the Atlantic for Camp Sunshine is fueled by the pain that gains us entry to that remarkable place (and gratitude for the lifeline Camp has been for us). We’ve sold bracelets and chocolates and random tchotchke to help fund research for a cure.
|R, May 2013|
So…what can we do?
Well, we try to support groups doing research. The Children’s Tumor Foundation (www.ctf.org) is a good place to start, and the NF Endurance arm of CTF has been our go-to fundraising thing for the last several years. Come run with us. Ok, rephrase, come run with Dave, come “run” with me (I run /walk, using the Galloway method of surviving races, manage to do the Philly half in 2:15 this past year).
CTF also has NF walks around the country (if you don’t even feel confident “running” like me…although confident has never been my problem).
The NF Family Association at CHOP provides support and information to NF families who are patients at CHOP. This is a new organization, and I am really excited to see what they are going to be doing. This is sorely needed at CHOP. You can find the NF Family Association on facebook.
The Pediatric Low Grade Astrocytoma Foundation ( www.plga.org ) specifically funds research on low grade brain tumors. This amazing organization was PARENT initiated (talk about giving pain a purpose!) and has made huge strides already in understanding and targeting low grade tumors. There are many NF applications to the work of PLGA, and I think we will be looking more in this direction in the future.
PLGA sponsored the sorafenib trial; while the trial was a disaster (I believe it closed within a few weeks after G’s catastrophic scan, other kids had similar yikes), the fact that this organization is funding low grade specific therapies so fast is amazing and a great sign of hope. We have no regrets about trying this experimental drug.
We also try to support the places that give us those lily pads, those moments of hope: Ronald McDonald Camp, www.philarmh.org , Camp Sunshine, www.campsunshine.org , and the Friends of Jaclyn, www.friendsofjaclyn.org , Caring for Kids with Cancer. These make Genna’s life happy. We support them (and you can too). The Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, Supersibs, the Race for Hope folks at the Brain Tumor Society, the 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave… all of these have meant a lot to us in our journey.
So we try to give back. I’m not going to lie…this journey is long, and sometimes the dull ache makes jumping in very difficult. Those awful pain moments provoke me to do silly things like sign up to run 13.1 miles all on one day. The dull ache months are hard to overcome. But we have to try and keep moving. We aren’t alone in this, you know.
And ultimately, we are so grateful. Even as we have lost so many friends (even within our own family), we have gained so many in the NF and brain tumor community. We have experienced amazing love from people we’ve never met. We’ve come to understand that God is always with us, even if sometimes it seems like we are alone. We have overcome our fears and tried to parent in a set of circumstances no “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” book even touches.
We have lost too many children to NF and brain tumors. For them, we have to keep going.
For them, we have hope.
For our Genna, and our Rosie, and yes, my husband Dave, we hope.
To quote one of my favorite singers, Sara Groves, “hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it”…
I hate surprises, but being surprised by hope is my favorite thing ever. I pray that as we enter our 9th year of brain tumor and nf struggle, that we are surprised by hope frequently…because that is a surprise we love to share.
Peace out, friends.
|The Cams Crew, May 2013|