ASMC Conference

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This week I attended a conference for work. It is a group of Apple Specialists (www.applespecialist.com) who get together to learn how to make their businesses better. Richard is one of the people who started the group, and I worked for one of the other founders. We used to plan the events that we now only attend. So it is from one step removed that we gathered this week. Our first time back since David died.

These people are our peers but have also become a special kind of family. We’ve experienced a lot together. So when our friend and the group Executive Director, Kevin, said he would like to help honor David’s memory, we were touched. When he asked if I would speak to the group about David, we were humbled. Many of our friends in this group have suffered heartaches, but it is a testament to David’s loving and kind spirit that they chose him as a rallying point. For you see, this wasn’t just to tell his story, but also to pull everyone together into an awareness and fundraising campaign to cure brain cancer.

Kevin developed a plan to bring together our dealers, local musicians, and the local communities (around the US and Canada) to raise money for brain cancer research. Each participating Apple dealer will plan an event (with our help and support) and the community will have a wonderful evening of entertainment while helping a most worthy cause.

I spoke for a few minutes about David, and the wonderful doctors, nurses, and researchers we met along the way. I was able to inform everyone that not only do we not know what causes brain cancer, we also don’t have a lot of good treatments for it. It was emotional, but I can’t imagine a more supportive crowd.

On a side note, a very important Apple executive was scheduled to speak that morning, and he graciously spoke at a later time so that the largest possible crowd would be assembled to hear our message. He later said I was a “tough act to follow”. That’s the highest praise I’ve ever received for any kind of public speaking, and while it may not be completely true, I’m still gonna take it!

After the presentation, I was so thankful that so many of the members reached out to me about this cause. They genuinely want to help, and they are so excited to focus their efforts together to combat this often fatal form of cancer.

There will be more information coming about these events as we get closer to May, but if you are interested in helping to plan an event, please let me know. Volunteers will be a key part of the success, and since the events will be all around, there’s a good chance one will be near you!

Days To Remember

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Today was a pretty cool day. It involved taking Richard to the airport to fly home, which was the only “bad” part. Everything is better when he is around, but somehow, today managed to be a pretty awesome day anyway.

For the first time in quite a while, I spent the day alone with Austin. We just hung out. Went shopping. Caught a movie. Talked. Pretty awesome. We’ve missed out on days like that for the last couple of years. Cancer has a way of taking over everything, and even on the rare moments we escaped, it was looming over us. Then David died, and any attempt at being “normal” just went out the window. Not that things are normal now, but today I could see where normal would be. We are skating on the edge of our new normal. Tinged with sadness, but still with hope for the future. Room for dreams. A place where your heart just might be able to expand again. Breaths still catch at odd moments. A thought of David could just as easily bring a smile or a tear, but we are adjusting. We’re gonna make it through this.

And watching Austin blossom is one of the benefits of trudging ahead. She can be pretty delightful, and today I was treated to her sense of humor and true self. She is beautiful beyond words – inside and out. I think I am pretty tuned in to the miracle of life these days. What a precious gift! And because it seems so sparkly and special, I just wanted to remind all of you that it is. Sometimes life covers everything with a layer of dust and it’s hard to see that light shine. But it is there – even on the darkest days. You just have to remember to look for it… and sometimes you might have to wipe off a layer of dust!

The End of the Month

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Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is over. I haven’t posted a lot on here, but I made posts on Facebook. There were a lot of impassioned voices, and sometimes I feel like they’ve said it all. There are families who detail their struggles in such great detail that I can’t always bear to read it. I feel the agony they are in as they struggle to save their loved ones, and their fear makes me feel helpless. There is nothing to say to help them. The ONLY thing I can think of that will make a difference is research. Better, more humane treatments are needed more with each passing day.

We are now in breast cancer awareness month, and I’m struggling. I have family members who have fought and won against breast cancer. I have friends who are, right now, in the fight. And as I look around at the pink, I know that must bolster them. What I don’t understand is why that one cancer has come to mean so much and the others, by comparison, so little. I read a few beautiful posts by breast cancer survivors today who seem to struggle with this same question. I am thankful for the success we are having against breast cancer. I just want us to fight other cancers with the same diligence.

Maybe that is selfish. Maybe I feel that way because my son died from one of those “other” cancers. I guess I never really separated it out until David got sick. I thought the American Cancer Society was handling it. Until we were in the fight, I had no idea how many families were losing the battle against cancer.

My family had been blessed with relatively healthy children and adults who mostly lived to old age with few exceptions. Cancer changed that in ways I am still struggling to understand.

I’ll never be what I could have been if he had lived. I’ll never be the same. But I won’t let it make me less. I have to be more. I have to do more because now I know more. I know the pain of losing a child. Of watching a sister lose the dearest friend she ever had. Of watching your friends and family struggle to make sense of something so senseless. Now I know. And I can’t just assume that someone else is handling it. Now it’s my job. And maybe it’s your job. Only you can know that. But I can tell you that we are each here to make a difference. I encourage you all to figure out what that difference is. Do SOMETHING. And if you have to try on a few different things before you find your fit, that’s ok. You’ll be helping people along the way.

We can all make a difference in some small way. The next $100 raised may pay for that extra hour in the lab that means a breakthrough. The next person you are nice to may be the one who didn’t know how to go on. Do “it” – as many “its” as you can make time for. You won’t be sorry.