By Audra Wilford, mother of a child with cancer
Like most families, we reflect on giving thanks more at this time of year than any other, but these past two Thanksgivings have been different. As soon as our son Max was diagnosed with cancer, things were different.
We immediately gave thanks to our incredible neurosurgeon who saved Max’s life and to the PICU doctors and nurses for their tremendous care and humanity. We gave thanks for having the opportunity to take Max home when the baby girl in the room next to us would not ever return home in her parent’s arms. When cancer struck our family, we found ourselves giving thanks, and giving back, more than ever before.
We’re thankful for our care team, our nurses and doctors, pathologists and radiologists, our hospital for giving complementary integrative care a try, our brilliant Chinese medicine specialist, all of our therapists – the human beings who all chose to care about our son’s life, who make tremendous sacrifices in choosing very difficult professions that are only made more complex by different personalities and high levels of stress.We are beyond thankful for our family, community, colleagues and friends. We’ve had health insurance, paid leave, fundraisers, and loads of positive support, thoughts, and prayers. We are thankful for the 46 Mommas, the most amazing community of sisters a cancer Momma could ever connect with. We have an incredible cohort of families going through what we are at our hospital, and we are so thankful to have met them all, though certainly the circumstances are not the best. We are thankful for cancer parent friends who also run foundations and nonprofits – they show us real strength and perseverance, giving us so much hope.
We are thankful for allies, for people who are brave enough to stand with us, to learn about our cause. People who feel deeply that our children are theirs, who are willing to take our hands, who don’t turn away when it’s too tough. Our allies make our voices louder, recognizing that we can only get so far on our own.
We’re most thankful to have Max with us today. Max has been enveloped in love, and he’s doing well. Without essential funding provided for childhood cancer research by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation the treatment options for Max and all of our little heroes would be limited and, with more funding, the opportunities to answer essential questions become very real steps on the path to overcoming the devastation and curing the #1 disease-killer of our children.
In sum, we are thankful for you!