Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunshine, Hope, & Pure Joy

I have made it a point along this journey to share stories about the miracle going on in our family as Paige battles the monster that is childhood cancer.  In 15 months, I have witnessed strength and courage as she faced (and continues to face) her treatments head-on, as she walked through the doors of her school for the first time in a year, as she wondered how (and even if) she would find acceptance in a world that seemed so far away from her new reality.  Through it all, Paige has displayed an unwavering faith that only seems to grow as we move along this path.  She knows God loves her.  She knows He is healing her.

The fact remains that, since her January 2014 leukemia diagnosis, Paige has missed out on things many young ladies her age take for granted.  Hanging out with friends.  Opening night of a favorite movie.  Shopping at the mall.  Children and young adults going through cancer treatments are many times too ill--or their immune systems are simply not strong enough--to participate in activities with their peers.  Crowds--and the germs they contain--pose threats healthy people can't begin to understand.  When the slightest temperature lands you in the hospital for at least 3 days, it becomes something you just don't want to chance.  Movies are viewed at home--or in the theater at off-peak times.  Same with shopping--I can't tell you how many times Paige and I scheduled our quick outings to make sure we were in and out before the crowds hit.

Even though entertainment and outing times found her joined at the hip with good old Mom, Paige always managed to see the best in the situation.  Late morning movies sometimes meant we had the whole place to ourselves.  Some days just getting out of the house was a blessing in and of itself.  When you're cooped up for days on end, a simple ride to Sonic can be an adventure.  And then--out of the blue one day--there's sunshine.  The Sunshine Kids Foundation, to be exact.

Their mission statement says it all.  They work to add quality of life to children with cancer by providing them with exciting, positive group activities so they can have fun and celebrate life.  And celebrate they do.  Teen movie days, bowling nights, and Rockets games.  Children's trips to Marvel Live and Disney on Ice.  Seasonal parties at The Sunshine Kids House.  No matter the event, the outcome is always the same.  Smiles.  Laughter.  Pure Joy.

A joyful heart is good
medicine...Proverbs 17:22
You see, at these events, nobody really talks cancer.  Unless the kiddos ask each other about their diagnosis, there are other conversations going on--about what's going on at their schools, who is going to the next event, or the amazing food that's always a part of the celebrations.  There is nobody staring at them--unless someone is busting some serious moves on the dance floor.  Worries about hair--or lack thereof--fade away, if only for a few hours.  Conversations begin, new friends are made, and we come away with happy hearts--and the hope that one day childhood cancer will be a very distant memory for all of us.

Acceptance.  Friendship.  Joyful hearts.  Who doesn't need a little sunshine in their life?  These amazing kids deserve nothing less.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing...   Romans 15:13

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