I joined the pediatric cancer club in 2016 as the grandmother of a child with cancer. Never in my wildest dreams (nightmare) did I think pediatric cancer would become a family tagline. Never. We are all healthy, and while we often had some unique medical concerns, cancer was not one of them. Since 2016, the sheer grit, talent, and perseverance of what is called the “cancer” mom continues to amaze me.
“Cancer” moms are resilient and generous
Google “cancer” mom and you get information on mom’s with cancer, not mom’s with children who have cancer. Even google can’t handle that search. Now, if you ever hear an adult cancer survivor talk of their journey, they often say the cancer was a “gift”. I certainly don’t see pediatric cancer as a gift, but it has opened my eyes to the absolute strength of those moms as well as the phenomenal generosity of others.
Can you imagine wrapping up brain cancer treatment of your son and then soon after donning a long red gown to attend a fundraiser to support pediatric cancer patients? This “cancer” mom pulled this off with such elegance that you would never know her son was just wrapping up treatment. Time after time I see poised, strong, and resilient “cancer” moms moving through life with grace and boulder-like strength.
Helping others with the pediatric cancer challenge
A central theme with cancer moms is to help others going through the same experience. It might be the worst emotional trauma on earth to a parent, and so many of these moms (and dads) only want to help others in any way they can to lessen the pain for others. It is not about themselves, but always other families. Here are some amazing ways these moms have helped other cancer families:
- There is a local cancer mom that is a photographer. She offers to take photos of the cancer warrior children during the holidays. She reaches out for toy donations and then all these children receive toys along with the precious family photos.This act of generosity is priceless to those dealing with pediatric cancer.
- There is a Chicago area charity called Cancer Kiss my Cooley (CKMC). The purpose of this organization is to create special moments and lasting memories for families living with pediatric brain tumors. The founders of CKMC lost their son, and their son Carter only wanted “everyone’s dreams to come true.” The organization was named after a phrase that Carter used to say during treatment. His backside was called his “cooley” which is Italian slang for “rear end”. He would sing “cancer kiss my cooley” during treatment and hence the legacy name of this organization. There is a mom (and dad) behind this special organization.
- There is a mom that runs marathons and she is my daughter. She ran two, and runs her third in October, 2019. These marathons are to raise funds for brain cancer research. And then there are the toy drives so that children receiving brain radiation can have a gift after each treatment. And, other children receive Christmas gifts at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Why does her running matter for research? Only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer and only a small fraction of that is slated for brain cancer research.
A toast to all moms
So, I give a toast to all moms this Mother’s day. But for cancer moms, I will toast you and also thank you for making lemonade from lemons. It really does take a village to fight and support pediatric cancer. On this Mother’s day, consider your blessings if your children are healthy, and support those that are not with a shoulder to lean on or a donation in your community.
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Happy Mother’s Day to all!