We were like walking zombies as we helped push Atia’s stretcher down the long, white, vacant hallway. It was eerily silent, except for the squeaky wheel with perfect tempo. Squeak, 2, 3. Squeak, 2, 3…
It was almost midnight; we’d been in the emergency room since 5pm, over six hours.
Confusion, numbness, disbelief.
Atia was scared. She was in pain. She’d been poked with a needle over and over again as they’d attempted to draw her blood. She’d cried. I’d cried. I’d yelled ferociously at the well meaning nurses who couldn’t seem to get a clean sample. Steve comforted me. He comforted Atia. He was strong. I was angry. I was scared. We both cried.
Atia was transferred from the stretcher to a very institutional crib with tall, silver bars; a baby prison. She was hooked up to monitors. Wires darted out from numerous locations all over her body. She hated it. I took her out of the crib.
She fell asleep on my chest. Steve and I stared into each other’s tired, fearful eyes. Without words we shared the same thoughts: What’s happening? What are we going to do? Is it bad? It feels bad. Really, really bad.
The next day a group of experts in white lab coats towered over us explaining that further tests were necessary. It was either an infectious disease or cancer. Tests began. Many, many tests. Some non-invasive, some very invasive.
Days passed. My mom came and stayed with us. I couldn’t even think straight. We moved from ICU to the other side of the pediatric ward. Atia was sedated. A PICC line was placed to relieve her of the torturous IV assaults. A bone marrow biopsy was performed. She received morphine.
No one ate. No one slept. We could barely breathe. I was pregnant with Asher.
Friday, April 17, 2009, 3 years ago today, a friend was visiting, and the doctor walked in. We cleared a place on the chair turned bed. She sat down. It’s cancer. Something called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Treatment must begin immediately. A thick file was placed in our hands – a clinical trial. Standard treatment was explained. I couldn’t understand a word of it.
It was Friday. Chemo would begin on Monday. We had the weekend to decide. No second opinions. Hospitals don’t do tours on Saturdays and Sundays. The doctor left. She went home for the weekend. We turned to each other and embraced, grasping onto one another for strength.
Atia’s cancer journey began…
Every weekday, 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer, and on April 17, 2009, Atia was one of them. Since then nearly 40,000 children have been diagnosed with cancer. Some have completed their treatment. Some are still undergoing their treatment. Some lived. Some did not. Some will start Day 1 of their journey today.
My family experienced the very real struggles of pediatric cancer. Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund was born of the desire to help those that came after us – to make their journey a tad more bearable. We raise money to provide patients and their families Emergency Funding, Comfort Baskets, Ladybug Lunches, Ladybug Love for the Holidays.
We are 100% volunteer-based and the lion’s share of our money raised comes from our annual fundraiser, The Ladybug Bash. This year’s event is Stars and Cars. We’re celebrating Hollywood through the Ages. Adding magic to the night by mixing Hollywood old and new!
Date: Thursday, May 17, 2012 7-11PM
Location: Grossinger City Autoplex (1530 N. Dayton | Chicago)
Highlights: A Strolling Food and Cocktail Tasting, a Vintage GM Car Showcase, a Glamorous Fashion Presentation by AKIRA, Music from Tone Productions, Mike Jeffers Trio, a Tribute to Dean Martin, a performance by Grace Melon, 15 year old, two-time cancer survivor, and an Amazing Auction.
Special Guests include:
- Dina Manzo, charity founder, Host of HGTV’s Dina’s Party, former star of the Real Housewives of New Jersey
- Ana Belaval, three time Emmy Award winner and Around Town reporterfor the WGN Morning News
- Meg Caswell, Host of HGTV’s Meg’s Great Rooms and winner of Season 6 DESIGN STAR
- Ted Brunson, Producer and Host of WGN’s Chicago’s Best
Cost: $75 General Admission, $125 VIP Admission
Click HERE to Purchase Tickets
Please show your support for the children and families by doing one or more of the following things:
- purchasing a ticket today to attend the fabulous event;
- making an in lieu of donation if you can’t attend;
- sponsoring a Cancer Family by purchasing tickets for them – so many could use a night out!
Our hope is to sell 184 tickets TODAY, to stand in solidarity with the 46 children diagnosed with cancer on April 17, 2009, and every April 17th since.
Help us Change the Course of Cancer Care for Kids with Loads of Ladybug Love!
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