As if these past couple years haven't been challenge enough for all of us, it has taught many of those who have never experienced real resilience before, what the term actually means. Those IN the Pediatric Cancer world know it well.
When the CDC said wear a mask, I laughed, I had enough N95s left over from Daniel's bone marrow transplant to last for years.
When they said isolate, I said, you have no idea, I was in a 10 by 12 room for 9 months in isolation.
I am not minimizing the pandemic but to a Pediatric Cancer family, Covid protocol was a piece of cake and our everyday routine. It is how we all live.
But we are now moving on to a bright future and the cowbell is ringing for us in the distance.
Very recently I called up my son Daniel and mentioned the milestone of the day. We were now 8 years past THE day that set the wheels in motion to our Cancer journey, and although I loosely mentioned it to remind him of how far we have come, I was taken aback by the sharp tone he gave me responding with "What do you want me to say Mom? Congratulations? Make a Cake? " Then he folllowed up with "Move on, I have. " This jolted me, and set me back, as I am often literally stuck in moments of PTSD and grief while Daniel, getting ready to graduate from his dream school at USC is healthy and thriving (please refer to recent photo of him) . This is another reminder of the collatoral damage and long term effects of Cancer on a family, not just the patient.
I always say I have gained more than I lost through Daniel's diagnosis. More positives than negatives. The goals I have see Daniel accomplish that he knows he never may have seen if it were not for his Cancer; the lifelong friends I have made because of the emotional connections I can't have with anyone that hasn't gone through this with a child; the passion I have found for riding and my family with the Wheels team, I never would have found had it not been for Daniel's rehabilitation efforts; my personal growth and my ability to create a new path in life.
Why I ride this year is more global than personal I think. While I watched so many people start to become more empathetic and understand how we need to care for one another I saw an awareness grow for so many other illness. So many people were put on hold for diagnosis and treatment and our babies and children were no different. Childhood Cancer didn't stop. In fact many missed treatments and diagnoses were delayed and because of that ... well we know that out come. Research also lagged and has been detrimental. Dollars are needed more than ever to make up for the lost time and lack of service provided.
I spend way to many hours talking with grieving friends that didn't get the treatment their children deserved and am grateful that my child was fortunate enough to get what worked for him. If it wasn't for the money raised from this team that brought the funds specifically for the wellnes program that helped Daniel I know he would not have mentally thrived and been here with us today. This fundraising specifically for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders needs to continue to help more children like him have a fighting chance.
Thank you for your time. If you cant join our team and ride (because it is really fucking hard) then support us with your dollars and let us do the work.