A couple of weeks ago, I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of Lucy crying. Usually if something wakes her, she comes to our room, but on this particular night, she just kept crying. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness I made my way to her room to find out what was wrong.
“My legs hurt, Mommy.”
Even though I have three typically healthy children, I have accumulated 12 years’ worth of stories – stories of kids who have fought the evil beast that is childhood cancer – some have lived, some have died, but so many of their stories start with, “My legs hurt, Mommy.” So when Lucy said that, cancer was the only thing on my mind.
This isn't the first time this has happened. Every prolonged fever, recurring pain, twitch, anything, and my mind goes there. I live in daily fear of childhood cancer – some may call it irrational, but in the circles I spend time in, it’s a very real possibility.
And while I have committed my career to raising money to fund the best childhood cancer research experts, it’s just not enough to quell my fears – I have to do something more.
You probably know me well enough to know that I am not a runner and I’m not a distance swimmer. As a matter of fact, I’m a middle-aged, out-of-shape, working wife and mother of three. I’m usually just tired. But when I told my friend Susan that I was tired she said, “Oh come on, David was dying and he walked all of Rodeo Drive, threw up along the way and kept going. Get a grip.”
I’m getting a grip. I’m running and swimming and for each $1,500 that is donated, I will do a splash and dash here in Tucson this summer – that’s an 800 yard swim and a 3 mile run, and I’ll have inspiration to keep me going.
See, every time I lay in bed with Lucy at night, I think of Ty Campbell dying in his mother’s arms. When I look at pictures of McKenna Claire who died from a rare brain tumor, I am taken aback when she’s wearing the same clothes that Rachel wore because they’re nearly the same age. When I go skiing with Ryan, I think of how unfair it is that David isn’t skiing with his family.
I don’t want to live with the irrational fear anymore, and I don’t want another mother to bury her child.
Lucy is fine – it was probably just growing pains, but the world’s worst lottery could easily have given me a “winning” ticket, and this story a different ending.
I don’t love to run, I’m not sure I can swim an 800 right now, but I hate cancer. Please donate.