The above three pictures are of Allistaire on February 4th in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Each of the last 4 February 4ths she has either been in treatment or about to begin again due to relapse.
Today is World Cancer Day. Today is a day to take note, to lift up your chin and force yourself to look cancer in the eye. Because let’s be real, most of the time we want to look the other way and pretend we don’t see that dark shadow looming in our periphery. Look around at your life – how many of those you love have been touched by cancer? And I don’t mean “touch” in the desirable sense. Maybe impaled, scarred, lacerated, bruised, wounded, ravaged. Maybe these are better words to describe cancer’s impact. Yes, cancer has also brought a lot of good in my life, but I will not for a second pretend that I wish cancer on anyone. How can I not desperately want cancer to be stopped, forever?! And it’s not just Allistaire. It’s my sister-in-law who didn’t have her mom there when her sons were born. It’s my friend Megan who lost her baby because of her own cancer. It’s my aunt who had to make the hard choice to have a mastectomy because her mom died of breast cancer. It’s my cousin who has decide whether or not she must cut out parts of her body because she bares a gene known to show high risk for breast cancer. It’s my friends’ sad, weary eyes that long to have their child back.
Today I bring you videos to tell the story. The first was made by our friend Abi who was in treatment with Allistaire, also with AML. I love this video because it is a window into our world. I love this video because it’s full of faces dear to us. But what I can’t ignore is how many faces are now gone, dead. Cancer does not leave one unscathed. If you make it out alive, one almost always bears the scars and damage of treatment. The second is of a little 3 year old boy named Ben who died of neuroblastoma. Out of the deep well of their grief, his parents started the Ben Towne Foundation which is linked to Seattle Children’s Research. The goal is to find cures for cancer that do not rely on chemotherapy and radiation and to accelerate research to get to real patients who are desperate for options now. The next three videos provide a window into one of the most thrilling and promising areas of research today – the idea that researchers can genetically modify our most powerful fighting cells, T-cells, to identify and destroy our individual cancer cells. Lastly, to lift your spirits there is the “Stronger,” video filmed on the cancer unit at Seattle Children’s while Allistaire was in treatment the first go around. Life is worth fighting for. These kids are worth fighting for. Your mom and brother are worth fighting for.
If you’d like to tangibly support cancer research, I invite you to support me in Obliteride which is a fundraiser bike ride for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Every dollar you give goes directly to cancer research. There are a number of very worthy places to give your money to support cancer research. I have chosen to focus my efforts to support research at Fred Hutch because Allistaire’s life has been directly sustained by their research through the clinical trials that have yielded her last transplant and holds the promise for her cure with this next transplant and subsequent T-cell trial.
Click HERE if you’d like to support me in OBLITERIDE – accelerate the cure and put an end to cancer for good!