This is my son, Hans:
Hansie-bear. Cute, right?
Hans is 2 1/2 years old and cannot (or will not) say the word “milk”. He can repeat nearly every word in the English language, even the ones he should not, and quite a few in Spanish, but he still doesn’t say “milk”. He does drink gallons of it, weekly. He drinks so much “milk” that we quit buying organic, because it just wasn’t in the budget…
So when Hans asks for his “milk” he still says “My Mmmmmm…” while giving us the sign for milk, fist squeezing good “Mmmmmm”! This is adorable, and endearing, but has nothing to do with Pediatric Cancer, right?
While volunteering checkerboardSTUDIOS’ photography services to the 2016 Mama’s Night Out, San Diego, I had the privilege of hearing Parker’s Grandma speak on behalf of his parents. Parker Landis is a spunky six year old kid living with DIPG, a rare and lethal childhood brain cancer with no cure.
Parker is a kid that I have never met, a kid that I’m positive is a super-star, but also a kid that I previously had no connection with… But then his grandma said in the midst of her speech that Parker, for the longest time, could not say “helicopter”…
And that’s when it hit me. That’s when I lost it. That’s when I knew this could be MY kid. My kid living with brain cancer. My Hansie-bear, who can’t say “milk”…That could be me up front giving a speech, begging fellow moms to support this cause that does not affect them and their children. That could be me talking about Hans and his “Mmmmmm”, praying that he can live long enough to learn to pronounce it correctly, “milk“.
In preparation for the 2nd annual Mama’s Night Out in San Diego, I spoke with several fellow mama’s (really, really great mamas I might add) that admitted that they “just couldn’t attend”. Emotionally, it was just too tough. And first, let me say, I GET IT. I really do get it. This stuff is hard.
There were moments that I had to hide behind my camera lens because I felt guilty.
I was near sobbing. Crying so hard, when there were Warrior Mama’s right in front of me, pictures scrolling on the slideshow of their kids that are dying, or have already died.
It is so, so hard.
But then again…
…and these moms…
After spending hours, laughing, talking, drinking, crying, and then laugh-crying with these women, I learned that these beautiful, strong, incredible women are just moms.
They are just moms that have been thrown into their worst nightmare.
They are just moms that look forward to waking up with their babies.
And they are just moms that look forward to those sweet moments when everyone’s head has hit the pillow and they can sip on a glass of wine, alone.
They are just moms.
They are just moms that need a hug.
They are just moms that need support.
And they are just moms that understand that sometimes this stuff is “just too hard” …
…but unfortunately, for them, there is no way out.
What was one evening of ‘tough’ for me, is a lifetime of tough for them.
And that makes me want to do all that I can to give back to these women, their families, and research for a cure for DIPG.
If only I had unlimited funds to throw at this horrible disease.
If only I could do more.
For now, I have a camera…and a blog. Please join me in spreading the word and helping stand up and fight the reality that is pediatric cancer any way you can.
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