I participated in an Ambassador Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Six months ago, I had never heard of the Jimmy Fund.
Previous to 2013, I also had the ‘luxury’ of not knowing that research funding for childhood cancer from our government is limited to only 4% and that 46 children are diagnosed with cancer each and every day.
In January 2013, we lost that luxury when our then 10-year-old daughter became one of the 46. You never, ever think that *your* child will get cancer. Not until you hear those words from the doctor’s mouth and your world is never the same again.
Even through surgery and recovery, we still never thought of ourselves as a ‘cancer’ family. It was over and done with, right? Sure, she still went in for scans every 2, then 3, then 4 months but the few days of anxiety and stress were always followed by a hefty sigh of relief when we got that ‘all clear’.
Until we didn’t.
I don’t know the statistics on how many kids relapse with cancer or how many tumors recur or spread, but statistics don’t really matter when it’s your kid. This time, we are living cancer almost 24/7 as Hannah has finished half of her chemotherapy treatments. This coming Wednesday will mark the 6-month mark since her treatments began, so we still have a long, difficult road ahead for the rest of 2015 as well. Every two weeks she goes inpatient for either 2 or 5 nights, with multiple clinic visits and blood count checks in between.
Hannah has been fortunate in many ways. As with her originally knee tumor, this lung tumor was also completely removed with clear margins, and her first set of post-recurrence scans came back clear. She hasn’t had any extra hospitalizations (so far) for fevers or infections. She hasn’t had mouth sores and although her appetite has tapered off, she is able to mostly maintain her weight in between hospital stays. But, she struggles with nausea during every chemo round and the anti-nausea drugs knock her out. She lost almost all of her her hair early on, and for a 12-year-old girl, that’s been extremely traumatic. Nobody, including us, has ever seen her bald head – she even sleeps with it completely covered. She’s received many transfusions to build up her hemoglobin and/or platelets. She’s struggled with bloody noses and fatigue often. We watch her carefully all the time, and she’s had to avoid school and fun events at times because there’s been too much risk for germs to spread.
True, 6 months ago, I didn’t know what the Jimmy Fund was and had only heard of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in passing. During this year, I’ve made great strides to educate myself and my family, and to look for ways that we can both support others also struggling against cancer and help raise awareness (and funding) to support additional research to help find ways to eradicate all cancers, for kids and adults. Cancer has touched my family in more ways than one over the past year – in January, my 85-year-old father passed away from Rhabdomyosarcoma (typically a pediatric cancer), only 8 days before Hannah’s chemo treatments began.
Cancer is an evil, ugly disease.
The Jimmy Fund was created in 1948, to raise money for cancer research. The annual Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai is the Jimmy Fund’s largest one-day fundraiser and allows participants to follow the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon course, to raise money and honor those in their lives who are fighting, have fought or have lost their battle with cancer. Anyone can walk on September 27th – and if you aren’t going to be in Boston this September, you can also register as a virtual walker, as I have.
Whether you’re walking in-person or virtually, there are many tools available on the walk webpage to help you fundraise, and there are rewards you can earn for reaching specific milestones with your fundraising as well. Registration for the walk is easy and you can register right online. There is a $25 fee for walking in-person, but registration is free for virtual walkers, who also have no specific fundraising goal. If you are walking in-person, you can use the coupon code BLOG to save $5 on the registration cost!
No matter your walking ability, there’s a route for you. You can walk the full 26.2 mile Boston Marathon course (the Hopkinton route), or a 13.1 mile half-marathon course (the Wellesley route). There are also two shorter routes available as well – the 5-mile Boston College route and the 3-mile Dana-Farber route. All four of the routes finish at the Copley Square finish area in Boston, where you can also enjoy live music and food on the day of the event.
There is a massive need for more funding – for cancer research, as well as for care of patients undergoing treatment. Participating in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, whether in-person or virtually, is a fun and easy way to help raise funds. Ninety cents of every dollar raised goes straight to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to support their programs and research initiatives.
I’m registered as a virtual walker – and hope to raise as much money as I can, in honor of both Hannah and my dad, as well as all of the other kids we’ve met who are fighting cancer and the ones who have gained their angel wings. No child should ever have to lose their life to this monster, but all too many do, every day. Even those who survive, often end up with health issues and challenges that impact the rest of their lives – usually as a result of the treatment that saved their lives, not the cancer itself. We need better, updated treatments that target only cancer cells and leave the healthy ones alone. We need better compassionate and palliative care for the kids for whom treatment is no longer an option.
It may not be *your* child whose life is at risk. Or maybe tomorrow, you will be one of the 46 families whose child has just been diagnosed and whose lives will never again be the same.
Either way, you CAN help make a difference.