I'll be one of the first to admit that though I've always been aware of cancer and its devastating effects, I was never truly, completely, painstakingly aware until it came after my family. My daughter. My baby girl. A doctor looks you right in the eyes and says, "Your child has cancer." That, my friends, will take your level of awareness right off the charts.
Awareness of the battle, the struggle, the fight. Watching Paige go from a completely healthy teenager--I'm talking no issues whatsoever--to a young lady suddenly in the fight of her life--for her life--has been nothing short of heartbreaking at times. Fatigue. Weakness. Nausea. Pain. Those are just a few of the physical effects cancer has had on my daughter. It's taken a toll on her emotions as well.
Awareness that your lives will never be the same again. Homebound instruction and weekly trips to clinic replace attending high school and hanging out with friends. Low counts and a compromised immune system mean no weekend movies or other large-crowd activities. Planned--and unplanned--stays in the hospital steal time from home, time from our family.
Awareness that through it all, we are still very blessed. We really are. Paige's cancer is treatable. We have been fortunate to spend more time at home than in the hospital. It's a long process, but there is hope. She has cleared hurdles big and small, and we will press on until we cross that finish line together. Other families aren't that lucky. Some kids spend weeks, even months, in the hospital. They decorate IV poles instead of school lockers. Nurses and Child Life Specialists are some of their best friends. I'm telling you--it can weigh really heavy on the heart.
Awareness that something has to change. Too many precious children are lost to childhood cancers. They deserve the chance to be kids. Kids that can go play without being tethered to IV poles. Kids that can go to school with their friends without fear of catching a basic cold that could land them in the hospital. Kids that get to grow up, period. About 25,000 people were out supporting this year's Houston Komen Race for the Cure. That is amazing. I have several friends who have battled this disease and truly believe that increased awareness has resulted in many lives being saved. Most of the money raised stays right here in our city to fund research that will help even more families affected by breast cancer. I'm here to say--even shout it from the rooftops if need be--that kids need that same level of support.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord... Psalm 127:3