I remember the night I "met" Mary Tyler Mom and her daughter, Donna. It was April 8, 2011. My forty-fifth birthday.
It was the first birthday I celebrated without the annual call from my dad at 10:23 a.m. to wish me a happy day and tell me the story of the rainy Good Friday I almost made my grand entrance into the world on our front room floor.
But on this particular April 8th in 2011, I was lost. Literally. And Mary Tyler Mom saved me.
My dad had died of cancer the previous December. And, I missed him terribly. But even more especially on this day, my heart ached.
Reading Mary Tyler Mom's first post at the end of this miserable day was like getting a present from heaven. Sure, it wasn't a phone call...but it was the next best thing.
Dad was a reader. He loved all the greats. And, more than anything, he appreciated a good story-teller.
He would have loved Mary Tyler Mom.
In the course of almost two years, Mary Tyler Mom has shared her story thanks to almost daily blog posts regarding her life. She selflessly shares the intimate details of the life and loss of her daughter to cancer.
Her story makes me remember a story my dad told me during his treatment...the day he decided to fight...the day a couple of kids inspired him.
Early on in dad's cancer story he called to tell me how his infusion went one particular day. At this point in his "cancer journey", Dad was pissed off about the cancer.
Pissed the hell off.
He was sick. Exhausted. In a routine. Infusion, weakness, vomit, fluids, rinse, and repeat. Why him? Why now? What the hell?
As he sat in the waiting room, a thirty-something woman got off the elevator with twins in tow. Part of him was pissed even more. He questioned why any woman with cancer would have to bring two kids with her to the oncologist. I think his exact words were, "What the fuck is wrong with her husband?"
Apparently what was wrong with her husband was he was too busy bringing up the bags full of books and toys brought for the purpose of entertaining the children while THEY had THEIR infusion.
Dad saw things differently after this experience. I don't think he felt sorry for himself anymore. He was deeply affected by the two kids hooked up to IV poles on either side of him who had yet to experience kindergarten...or graduation....or a broken heart...or children of their own.
A normally a cynical man, this experience shook Dad to his core. From this point forward, Dad no longer seemed defeated by the disease. Instead he fought it...and he gave that bitch everything he had.
Dad could accept the fact he would eventually die from something and chances were it would be to cancer...but those kids...that wasn't fair. "Ah, for Christ's sake" he said, what the hell did a kid ever do to deserve this shit?" His heart broke for the parents. He wondered how they dealt with the disease affecting not just one, but two of their children.
Cancer sucks. It is the shittiest of hands to be dealt.
But, as awful, and dark, and crappy as cancer is, good has got to come from it. In spite of it.
Good comes in the form of Mary Tyler Mom...and the stories she tells...and the memories those stories invoke.
Mary Tyler Mom saved me on an April night in 2011...when I was at a low point feeling numb from the pain. Since that first post she has saved me with every subsequent piece she has written where her mantra is always the same: Choose Hope.
With every Mary Tyler Mom post I have read since, I wished there was something I could do for MTM to thank her for her inspiration, stories, and boundless energy toward getting out the message regarding cancer and how she chooses hope.
Last week she called in a favor...asking for fellow ChicagoNow bloggers to help spread the word.
I had only one question. WHEN?
Well, today is the day.
Today is Donna Day...a day where Donna's Mom hopes to raise money and awareness for Pediatric Cancer . Last year was the first Donna Day when Mary Tyler Mom hoped to raise 20K for her St. Baldrick's Day Event. She raised 79K.
This year the bar is set higher at 30K. I am confident she'll raise more.
There are a few less heads volunteering for this year's event on Saturday, March 30. If you are interested, you can pony up your locks here. You can join the oldest shavee--an 89-year-old woman who is the mother of one of last year's shavees.
Maybe you'd rather let your wallet do the talking. That's what I did this morning. Just click here and then click on the green button. I donated $25 to the cause ... I ask you to do the same.
Maybe all you can give is a buck.
Hey, that's okay.
If every one of my 863 Facebook fans gives $1...that is $863 to fund childhood cancer research. If everyone gave $5...cancer could suck it to the tune of $4315...$10 bucks and we're talking $8630.
The point is every dollar makes a difference.
Cancer sucks. Kids should be reading books...playing outside...dancing...laughing. Chemo treatments should not be allowed to deter this.
I'm asking you to dig in your pockets and give what you can to make sure no mother ever has to write the words...here is my daughter's cancer story again.
Let's end pediatric cancer. Let's start today.
Visit my facebook page and let me know you opened your wallet!