Cancer Mom v. Mom

Yesterday night I opened up the old gmail account and saw a new email from HuffPost Live marked “time sensitive.”  Well I opened that pup right up, curious what was going on.  I had pitched myself as a pediatric cancer advocate to them in September, thinking that might be a good time to do a piece on childhood cancer awareness.  I got no response from them.

That’s cool.  I’ve come to embrace that everyone is not a pediatric cancer advocate or as passionate about it as I am.  It makes sense to me and I completely understand that raising awareness is a process.  Ten years ago, pink did not have the same impact or significance it has today — awareness and advocacy take time to develop.  I resolved to try again next year, crafting a more compelling pitch that would be harder to ignore.

Well, it turns out they liked the pitch.  The producer who wrote was very kind and knew it was short notice, but she had the perfect opportunity to feature a HuffPost Live spot aimed at raising awareness about childhood cancer.  I would be paired with a few other pediatric cancer advocates, including HGTV’s The Property Brothers.  Turns out, those guys are really great supporters and advocates themselves.  Yea, Property Brothers!


Today is Halloween.  The feature is scheduled for 5:30 PM, Chicago time. That is PRIME trick-or-treat time.

I said no.

My childhood cancer advocacy has become very important to me, albeit unexpected.  After Donna died, I was pretty resolute that I was done with cancer.  It had taken by Mom and daughter, two amazing Donnas, and I didn’t want to willingly give it any more of my life.  Mary Tyler Dad and I agreed on this point.  Well, things change.

A little time passed and the immediate sting of Donna’s death had lessened a sliver.  After a couple of years, I found myself more and more engaged with the gross disparity between funding of research for pediatric and adult cancers.  The evidence is so damning, that it is hard not to want to contribute what I can and actively use my social media voice to do so.  With last year’s publishing of Donna’s Cancer Story, I had the childhood cancer bug.  I was and remain committed to raising $ to fund better and more research so that fewer families will know the pain we live with daily.

And despite this passion and commitment, it was easy for me to say NO to HuffPost Live.  Today is Halloween.  My boy has been looking forward to this day for weeks.  Months really.  At 5:30 PM, I know just where I want to be and it is at his side, holding his hand, walking from door to door, begging neighbors for candy.

One of my children is alive.  Another is dead.  I parent them both.  Sometimes, the needs of the child who is alive trump the needs of my child who is not.  Harsh as that is, it is my truth.  The further I get into advocacy, the more time and attention it takes, the greater the need for me to balance these needs, which are at times opposing one another.

One potential solution that makes sense to me when I feel pulled, with obligations to advocacy v. obligations to Mary Tyler Son that very well might overlap one another, I think I need to choose life.  In the ring of cancer v. life, I think it will be important to always choose life.  Today is the perfect example.  Spend a few hours prepping for a 20 minute appearance with other childhood cancer advocates and worried about my hair and lipstick, or spend that time prepping and anticipating and participating in tricks and treats.  I choose Halloween.  I choose holding Mary Tyler Son’s hand.  I choose living over cancer.

I think Donna understands.  At least, I hope she does.


9 Replies to “Cancer Mom v. Mom”

  1. Of course she understands!!! You only want Jay to remember this afternoon at 5:30 as the fun and candy filled afternoon that he has looked so forward to. Not one where he is sad and disappointed. Choosing life here, only way to go. Thumbs up to MTM.


  2. Without a reason of a doubt, she understands. Before you were a Cancer Mom, you were, are and forever will be her Mom. While you were holding MTM’s hand, you were also holding her heart and last night, I’m sure she loved the trick-or-treating much more than the advocacy. There’s other nights for that. This one only comes once a year.


  3. You are an amazing Mom. Chosing life when there is a choice to make is the best way to honor your daughter. When I was younger I lost a childhood friend that I grew up with to cancer when he was 11. When ever things get hard I think of him and how he lived the last few years and he chose life while he had the chance. Im sure Donna would want you to do the same and would want your son to get to trick or treat as she was such a sweet girl.


  4. Saying No has never sounded so sweet to me as it did just now. I can’t imagine having given a different answer in this situation and I know that MTS was happy you were with him.


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