Choose Hope

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hope sign

This human existence is a strange thing. Full of ups and downs, it seems like we should all get an equal shot at playing the game. But we don’t. For some of us, the journey ends just as it should be beginning. Bright and shining stars extinguished before their light touches everyone. But what about those of us given the gift of time? What do we do with it?

I want to take a moment today, as sweet Jackson is laid to rest, to talk about hope. For if ever there was a family that knows what it means to hope, it is the Jackson/Beezhold family. Articulate and caring, I met them first online through some Facebook support groups. They knew Jack’s odds, which were not good, but they lived with hope every day. In big and small ways, they filled Jack’s years with life –a lifetime of happiness. It was an unbearably short lifetime, but we could all wish to be loved that much.

It makes me reflect on my blessings – among them, this family that I’ve come to know. It takes true faith to find hope after you are dealt a blow like childhood cancer. To know that life is not perfect, but there are gifts – even in the times of imperfection. Today, I grieve with Jack’s family, but I also hope for everyone still fighting. I hope that they will have great joy in as many moments as they can. I hope that those of us not personally battling disease will see what a gift that is. I hope that we will all be empowered with the knowledge that we can make a major difference in this world – through our attitude and actions. I hope that we will all have the vision to see the blessings instead of the curses.

I hope that we will all take moments for ourselves, but that we will take more moments in service of others. We have been given time to play this game of life. And I think one of the secrets to “winning” is teamwork. I’m sad that we didn’t find a cure in time to help Jackson. But I’m not giving up. I choose hope. We have a great big team of warriors depending on us. The bigger our team, the better our odds of winning. I want to give everyone the chance to play the game for as long as possible. I want us all to die as old people who have been given every chance to grow old gracefully. Some will do amazing things. Some won’t. But wouldn’t it be cool if we were all given the same odds?

Is Empathy Better than Apathy?

Dragon Master Foundation

Apathy

Let me just start this post by saying I just got bad news. I’ve come to know a family very well through their son’s GBM battle, and I just found out they are sending him home on hospice. No more options. He’s just a little boy. His Caring Bridge page has a rocket ship. He likes Legos and Star Wars. And they don’t have any other treatments for him. He is struggling to breathe, as many warriors do, because the tumor is pressing on critical parts of his brain. I’ve sat beside my son’s bed and watched that all happen. I’m horrified that they will have to do the same.

With each new family I meet, I think to myself, “I hope this is the one we save.” And I believe each time that it might be that person. That dad, that daughter. When I express my frustration in the timeline to those around me, they are always quick to say, “but look how far you’ve come!” That may be true, but it isn’t far enough, fast enough. We’ve made amazing headway. But it isn’t saving Jack.

When I post on Facebook or Twitter about these kids, people are quick to offer prayer. They are even quicker to send a birthday card or gift to the sick child. That gives peace for a moment, but I want more. I want the same kind of action and passion toward curing these warriors so that we don’t feel the need to make their birthday special because it is probably their last. Which brings me around to my question. Is empathy better than apathy?  Are we really helping anyone by feeling sorry for them? When you read those stories and posts and think, “oh how sad”, does it incite you to action?

Today I read some of the comments on VP Biden’s Cancer Moonshot post. At that time, there had only been 125 people who had shared their cancer stories. My story is near the top with only 10 likes. Are you kidding me?!? The Vice President of our country is finally making cancer research an issue and only 125 people could be bothered to respond? I get that not everyone likes to write about that stuff, but everyone could go click like on a story that resonates with them. Is cancer research important to you or not?

I’ll be perfectly honest. Six years ago it wasn’t a priority for me. I thought most cancers were curable, and that the ones that weren’t were extremely rare. I was wrong. Cancer is still a devastating disease that takes many forms – quite a few of which are virtually untreatable. Oh, they will do some form of treatment for everyone, but in cases like brain cancer, they know it most likely won’t do much good. May God bless the folks who go through these treatments knowing it may not help them, but it might help someone else down the road. David did that. And that’s why I am so passionate about this. If I had gotten passionate about it 10 years ago, maybe we could have saved him. But I’ll be damned if I sit by and let other people die when I know that science is capable of better treatments, and yes, maybe even cures.

When I was reading those posts, several people asked what they could do. No one had responded to them, so I did. I told them to volunteer with groups who are looking to change the status quo. Post on social media in support of those groups, and financially support them whenever you can. If we want change, we have to make it happen. Today the bad news went to Jack’s family. It could be anyone else tomorrow. Seven more children will be diagnosed tomorrow. Three of them will lose their battles. Every day. To me, that means we have absolutely no time to lose. What does it mean to you?