i was searching for a new sewing machine back in 2007 and for some odd reason, the first link that popped up on my search was for someone's blog. i had never read a blog before and suddenly felt nosey for digging in to this person's journal-like website. however, as i read more about her sewing creations, another topic appeared in her post - Chemo Angels. i quickly forgot about the sewing machine and became engrossed in reading about the purpose of this group - here is the description from the website:
"Chemo Angels is a volunteer organization dedicated to adding a ray of sunshine to the lives of those undergoing IV chemo treatment. We believe people going through the physical, emotional and mental rigors of chemotherapy deserve some encouragement... Our common denominator is a desire to brighten the lives of cancer patients while they are going through this challenging time."
missing my days of teaching special education, i welcomed the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. i eagerly signed up as i still loved the hobby of sending notes and cards through the good old snail mail and it gave me motivation for making the handmade notecards that i at the time seemed to make quite often. the commitment required sending weekly cards or small gifts to a person with cancer. how difficult could it be to show love and support and a few kind words and rays of sunshine for a stranger? my aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer just a few months before so the shock of cancer affecting a family was suddenly close to home to us.
how hard could it be? WOAH!!! ok, i thought i would get a woman, most likely in her 50's or older; someone who was older, stronger, and wiser than me and who, despite cancer, she was going about her daily life as though this was just a temporary fork in the road. why i assumed this, i have no idea! when i was accepted as a chemo angel, i was assigned to a precious 5 year old boy with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma! when i got his information sheet, i was an instant puddle...for days. i really wanted to quit before i even started, i admit, i wanted to wimp out. i had one year old twin girls at the time and reading about another child's struggles on his caring bridge site and linking to his various little friends' websites who were stricken with this same illness, i just became an emotional wreck each night as i got online to check on this little guy.
but i toughened up, and let me tell you, this little boy, EVAN, has made a big dent, for the better, in my life! the letters began, the cards were sent, the family Christmas cards were exchanged in which i received my first letter from his mother with so many enlightening details on his progress and challenges, and a chicken-scratched colored picture from the little kindergartner. BUT the best gift, and so unexpected when beginning this experience, i got to meet my little hero that following summer in '08 when his family came from Alabama for a California vacation. AND then again in '09 when they returned for yet another vacation. his mom and i would be fast friends if we were neighbors - we could gab for hours, and when we first met, it felt so good to be able to ask her the questions that lingered in my mind each day
"how do you go to sleep each night?"
"how do you keep your faith?"
"how do you explain to evan when his little friends lose their battle?"
how do you cope, hope, stay strong, believe, breath...etc, etc....
they sound like such blunt questions, but it was heart warming to be able to get to know her in this way and to allow her to be the mom who has to bear all of this for her child. i just can't imagine the strength it must require.
evan is now a third grader, is living in his "home-home" as they call it, meaning he is not having to live in the homes provided at st. jude's hospital where he spent much of his time in the first year. he is silliest kid you've ever met and not the least bit shy! he had his make-a-wish wish come true to "be a star in my own tv show" and if you want to see this little boy, grab a chair and watch his tv debut - it's a hoot!
is there any room for any more cuteness in this kid?
and even little iz gets some love from evan...