So, it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted much other than poetry on this here little blog that I have. I guess the truth is that when I started I had a grand vision of raising awareness and bringing a voice to issues that I care about, and so, I dove right in. When I first started, many of my posts centered around my personal story and some of the struggles I have experienced. I soon found that while writing the stories was cathartic, posting them for the world to see was intimidating. My stories often aren’t pleasant, they’re rugged and humiliating- not only for me, but also for people that I care about. I alternated between raw/fearless and insecure/doubtful with every post.
I had created a Facebook page to accompany my blog and started trying to get traffic, but I found that it stressed me out and made me feel like I HAD to get followers and likes. I began to worry that I didn’t know enough about the issues I cared about to present them to the community. Even worse, I began to realize that a very tiny portion of the community I live in actually cares about those issues. Soon I found that I felt more comfortable with posting my poetry. I deleted all the posts that I considered to be written like a diary entry. I took down my Facebook page. I made myself a nice, safe, open-to-artful-interpretation, you-can’t-really-criticize-what-I’m-doing-here-on-a-real-level place to share my work. I chose to stop trying to use this blog to bring awareness to others. I CHOSE because I could.
That, my friends, is quite the luxury.
You see, my inspiration to begin writing again began with a foray into the world of blogging via a friend’s daily sharing of Donna’s Cancer Story in September of 2011. I quickly fell in love and by the end of the month, my heart was a huge, smushy, battered muscle with Donna’s name written all over it.
Donna’s Cancer Story is powerful. It’s striking, and beautifully told. Her mother, Mary Tyler Mom, and her father share their most terrible, haunting moments in a way that resonates through a parent’s heart and soul. They don’t hide, they don’t pretend that it isn’t the worst experience of their lives. There are moments when they express helplessness, incredible pain and incomprehensible struggle. They also don’t ignore the moments of true beauty and inspiration, the countless times they marvelled at the strength of their daughter, of each other, of their opportunity to to scrape meaning and hope out of what could be a reason to run from anything meaningful ever again.
Donna did not get to stay here with us in this dimension for very long. Donna was not a warrior, a soldier or an angel. She was a very small girl. She endured 31 months of treatment for a disease that would take her from her family. Donna is not alone. Donna’s family must now live and love without her presence. If you are a parent like me, your heart beat quickens if you even begin to let yourself imagine what it would feel like if Donna were your child. Donna’s parents cannot choose to erase the images, the memories, the hole in the middle of the bed. The trauma of what they went through will never disappear. They could choose to let everything that happened to their precious girl take away their chances for happiness, for health, for growth. They could choose defeat.
Instead, they choose hope. Because Donna did. Because sometimes, it’s the only way to make it to the next moment.
Donna’s Good Things was established to promote the doing of Good Things. Simple. These things can big or small, financial in nature, not financial in nature, public or private. Please go to the website and check out what they’ve been up to. On March 29, they will once again be teaming up with St. Baldrick’s Foundation and shaving heads for donations.
Today is Donna Day 2014. It is a day that bloggers familiar with Donna’s Mama and her family unite in raising their voices to speak about what they know of her story, to talk about how it has impacted their lives. I almost didn’t write anything because I was scared. Scared of not living up to the task, of asking people to donate, of sounding like I don’t know enough about the issue to make any definitive statements. Sadly, there is too much to learn about the lack of funding for pediatric cancer research. The numbers in this study, conducted by the National Institute of Health at the request of Congress, lists amounts spent in 235 categories of research for disease in the US. Only one of them is specific to childhood cancer.
While Government spending, waste and poor financial decisions leave sick kids and their families standing on the side lines waiting for answers, people like Mary Tyler Mom continue to advocate, raise awareness- and much needed funds. They do this because it needs to be done, because they can’t forget, and because they choose hope.
Today there will be amazing, beautiful, insightful blog posts written about Donna. I wish that I had the talent to express how her story changed my views on how childhood cancer is treated in this country, instead I humbly ask readers to really consider this: