September: Thank You »

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

Today is September 30, and the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I’d like to thank everyone who donated to support the work and mission of St. Jude, where thousands of kids like mine receive free treatment for cancer and other catastrophic diseases. If you haven’t donated yet, the page will be up until the beginning of December.

As September fades into the background, there are thousands of families who will still be dealing with childhood cancer. Your support will be paying for treatment, housing, meals, transportation and more. It means the world to us.

Thank you.

September: Learning Empathy »

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

In the nearly seven and a half years of being the parent of a child with cancer, I’ve heard this line a bunch from people sharing their own story of pain or grief:

It’s nothing like what you guys are going through.

I know what people mean when they say this. They suddenly remember they’re talking to someone who was told their baby had a brain tumor and feel like whatever they are saying isn’t valid in light of my situation.

For a long time, I struggled with this type of conversation. Watching someone fumble with a sudden pang of guilt — maybe mixed in pity — would make me angry. I can’t give a shit about your problem,” I would often think. Don’t you know my rock is way bigger than yours?

That response proved to be a pretty good way to damage my friendships. It took a lot of time — and therapy — to realize a simple truth:

Suffering exists on a scale.

For example, I have a friend who was telling me about his child breaking her arm on a playground. They had to rush to the hospital and have it set. It sounded truly traumatic, then he stopped himself short.

It’s nothing like what you guys are going through.

The truth I’ve come to learn is that for him, and for his family, that day on the playground was terrifying. It was the scariest moment he and his wife have had as parents. Seeing their daughter in pain and in danger was traumatic.

Just because my family’s worst day was more dramatic or more serious doesn’t mean I have the right to discount his family’s worst day. That’s taken time to learn, and it’s something I still have to think about when I talk with people.

I don’t know how my family’s story will end. I can’t tell you what the future holds, but I know the last seven and a half years have changed me. Some of it for the better; a lot of it not. Extreme situations have a way of boiling a lot of life away, leaving just the raw core. It’s hard, but it’s a chance to look at who we really are, and, hopefully, work to improve.

No matter what’s going on in your life, I encourage you to take a step back and think about empathy. It’s not a natural response — at least for me — but one I’m learning, day by day.

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

September: Beyond Medicine »

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

When our son was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, we were thrust into the world of chemotherapy. As some of you heartbreakingly know, chemo is rough. The meds are brutal, and the side effects are enough to make anyone fall to their knees and plead for mercy. Josiah was just 7 months old when he got his first round of chemotherapy.

Even now, that sentence seems impossible.

How could anyone — let alone a baby — survive poison being pumped through their bodies? In his case, the chemo did it’s job. It’s been many years since scans indicated any type of growth of his residual brain tumor, thank God. Life at St. Jude goes beyond things like chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment is bigger than central lines and IV pumps.

Upon admission, we met people who worked across the hospital in all sorts of non-medical capacities. Child Life helped ensure that Josiah’s time in the hospital was as normal as possible. Going far beyond brining games to his room, Child Life has been hugely helpful in working through how to talk to Josiah about certain things over the years.

Since his first admission, he’s been receiving rehabilitation services in the forms of occupation, physical and speech therapy. His OT has known him since our very first week as a patient family. She and her co-workers taught Josiah how to walk without needing to crawl first. He now tries to take stairs two at a time. They’ve worked to reverse his left-side hemiparesis, which was caused by his tumor and related operations.

While he is now in a local public school, St. Jude’s school program has been hugely helpful in understanding his unique educational needs and how they’ve changed over the years.

These departments are just the tip of the iceberg. St. Jude is an institution designed to care for the patient’s total care, and the care of their families. There are social workers, parent mentors, counselors, spiritual caregivers and more, all ready to serve St. Jude kids and their families.

All of this care — like the chemo itself — is completely paid for by donations like yours.

September: Research »

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

In addition to the fully-paid care that St. Jude provides for its patients and their families, St. Jude is a world-class research institution:

The research resources and core facilities at St. Jude are truly extraordinary. From state-of-the-art technologies to expert support, our shared resources are designed to expand the capabilities of each research group, freeing investigators to pursue innovative ideas.

Talented staff work with St. Jude investigators as expert hands, consultants, or full collaborators. In-depth training is available for researchers interested in adopting new technologies. Our unique funding model allows costs to be kept low.

This research means that the doctors who have been treating our son’s cancer for eight years have the world’s best knowledge at their fingertips. What they know about his disease comes from the work done at St. Jude and her research partners.

This is evident when on St. Jude’s campus here in Memphis. Most of the buildings are research facilities. They have a supercomputer on-site and countless labs. It’s all to not only help the kids at St. Jude, but kids around the world.

It’s inspiring, and amazing to be a part of something so big.

This month, I’m raising money for the hospital instead of selling sponsorships here on 512. I’d love if you would donate.

A Quick Thanks 

I just got an email that my original St. Jude fundraising goal of $8,000 has been met in just nine days!

My goal was to raise $1,000 for every year of our oldest son’s life, to honor what he has been through and the progress he continues to make. I think it’s awesome that we hit the goal so quickly.

A deep thank you to everyone has donated so far. It’s humbling and encouraging to see so many names on that fundraising page.

It means the world to me, my family, and family like ours. That’s why I want to keep going. Last year, we raised nearly $20,000. I’d love to do it again. I’m raising money as part of a team, and we have a ways before we hit the group goal.

Every dollar is a symbol of hope in the fight against childhood cancer.

September: Another 12 Months »

Instead of running RSS sponsorships this month, I’m raising money in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more and donate.

I can’t believe it’s only been a year since the last time September rolled around, but that’s what time does when you’re a parent. It speeds up, leaving you behind if you aren’t careful.

It’s worse when you have a child with a catastrophic disease. When I scroll back through photos of our oldest son, so many of them are tinted by his experience.

He wasn’t diagnosed until he was six months old, but I search his newborn photos for signs of the earliest indications that something was wrong. Most of the photos of him under the age of three are taken in a hospital or show his old feeding tube. His scars were visible until his hair grew in.

J in August 2009

I love this photo of my wife Merri, Josiah and our friend Levi. I wish it was taken in our living room or in a park, but that’s not the hand we were dealt.

Here’s the thing. I can look at my photo library and feel angry and sad, but a lot of parents we have known don’t get to have almost eight years of photos of their children.

As good as St. Jude is, cancer still claims young lives every day. It’s is a stain on our humanity, but it’s one we can rid ourselves of.

No child should die in the dawn of life. Every family should have decades of intact family photos. Donate now.

RSS Sponsor: Qbserve – Automatic Time Tracker for Mac »

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