Although it is not what any of us, my mom, my brothers, ages 21, 15 and 11 or me, 19, would have chosen, for the past 5 1/2 years, cancer has been a part of our everyday life.
Our journey with cancer began in May of 2007, when after experiencing weight loss and stomach pain, my dad was diagnosed with gastric cancer.
He had just turned 48 years old ten days earlier and at the time was the father of four children, the youngest of which had just turned 6 and was in kindergarten.
Despite the treatment options they had to offer, the doctors were not optimistic that this young, active and athletic father would see his children graduate from high school, walk me down the aisle or do any of the thousands of other things with your kids that parents are "supposed" to do.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on May 28, 2008, at the age of 15.
Since then, I completed 27 months of treatment in September of 2010, before I relapsed on October 10, 2011.
I suppose the most heartbreaking part of this is that for my family, there is no "normal" anymore.
You remember the milestones in your life by whether or not you were in the hospital and numbers like 20 (the number of nights we spent in the hospital in January and February of 2012), 29 (the even longer number of nights of our most recent hospital stay in September and October) and dates like May 4, 2007, (my dad's date of diagnosis), May 28, 2008, (my date of diagnosis), December 24, 2008,
10:30 p.m. trip to be admitted to the hospital with a fever of 101 while the rest of the world was celebrating Christmas), April 1, 2010, (my brother Connor's date of diagnosis), October 10, 2011, (my relapse), January 14, 2012, (the night I was admitted with a fever of 104 and would spend the next 20 nights at CDH) and October 4, 2012, (the morning that I "coded" and almost died),
August 2008 (when my father passed away) become etched in your mind along with your our birth dates, anniversaries and all of the other important dates we remember, but for all of the wrong reasons.
I am back in remission and receiving treatment while my brother Connor has only about 6 months to go before finishing his 39 month treatment plan.
Please know that our family sincerely appreciates being selected and thank you for all of your efforts in offering financial assistance to families impacted by a cancer diagnosis.
Please know that your organization has our full support as you continue to make a difference and perhaps, make life just a little bit more "normal" for the families that are the recipients of your work.