Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making a Difference in Our Own Way

There is no more helpless a feeling in life than to see someone you love so dearly in pain and suffering.  You can sit devotedly by their sides, praying and longing with all your heart to somehow relieve just a little bit of the pain they're facing, but in reality you know that there is nothing you can do.  He will get better.  Or he won't.  It is in God's hands.

I can't even tell you how heartbreaking it was to watch Spencer have his independence ripped out from underneath him in the very moment his friends were stretching their wings.   Instead of taking his college entrance exams, he was getting daily blood tests and monthly bone marrow biopsies.  Instead of participating in sports, he was lethargically dragging an IV pole around the hem/onc floor of the hospital.  Instead of getting his driver's license, he was talking to a dietician who was giving him hints to help him gain back a little of the 40-lbs he lost during his treatment.   

With the new perspective this experience has brought us, we are fully aware that none of what he missed really matters in the scheme of things.  He is healthy again and that is enough.   

However his recovery is  not all that matters.  While the prognosis for people with  Spencer's type of leukemia (AML) has improved dramatically over the years, its cure rate is still barely over 50%.  While we rejoice in the fact that Spencer is in happy part of that statistic,  my heart breaks to think of how many of our hem/onc friends that haven't made it. 

There's Sydney, a 12-year-old girl whose room was next door to Spencer's for part of his treatment.  She fought AML for over a year and never made it into remission long enough to get to go home for even a few days.  A whole year her mother sat with her in the hospital and eventually left there empty-armed and heartbroken.  Then there's 5-year-old Ryan whose mother we met online.  Their family was stationed overseas when he was diagnosed just a few months before Spencer.  I cheered with her when he went into remission and was released from the hospital.  Sadly though, his remission was short-lived and he passed away just days before his sixth birthday.  He never even went to kindergarten.   Then there's Jeanie.  I've never mentioned her here before, but she was a 10-year-old girl in Cami's 5th grade class who passed away from AML almost five years ago.  She was the first child I ever met with cancer and I remember visiting her in some of the very same rooms that Spencer stayed in.   It still think of Jeanie and her grieving mother often.  

In fact I think of each of those families with empty places at their table this holiday season.  While I  can't do much to take away the pain that Sydney's, Ryan's, and Jeanie's families face each day without their child, Glen and I feel committed that we have to do something to make a difference.  We are not doctors or medical researchers who can find a cure ourselves, but are committed to help the cause in our own way. 

We may not look it, but both Glen and I are endurance athletes at heart.  Right now we are out-of-shape endurance athletes, but we are looking to fix the out-of-shape part while making our own contribution to finding a cure for Leukemia. 

Glen is committed to running a marathon for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in March and also a century bike ride for them in May.  I will run a half-marathon while he is running the marathon.  As part of that commitment, we have ambitiously decided to raise as much money as possible to help in the cause. 

Please consider visiting Glen's fundraising page and making a donation.  It can be small or large.  Anonymous or not.  Please help us in our quest to make sure that there are more happy endings like Spencer's. 
(Let us know if you are also interested in joining with Glen to form a team ("Team Spencer") and doing your own fundraising. Or, if you are comfortable with it, "Share" this link and help get the word out.  Thank you, thank you for all you have done to help us get through our difficult season and for helping in our ambition to further the efforts to find a cure for Leukemia.)


"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do." 
Edward Everett Hale


Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the best ways to show your support while aiding the search for a cure! Spencer is one of my inspirations as well. Best of luck in your training to both Glen and Lara from a fellow half-marathoner! :)
-Corinne B.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your blog while preparing for a lesson for church tomorrow... I kept reading and reading. We have five kids, we live in Northern Virginia... Thank you for writing about your trials and how you all have chosen to give back and focus on all that you have. We actually know Sydney's family. We live in the same town. Their courage is an inspiration to so many. I am so happy to read that your son is in remission. My husband's younger brother is in remission - what a blessing! Prayers to your family.

Lara said...

Thank you for your kind words. My husband finished the marathon referred to in this post just today. I am happy to hear that your brother-in-law is in remission too. More than ever, I truly feel that each day is a gift. Take care, Lara

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