Donna Day 2013: Bloggers Unite

The saying is that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Donna Day 2013 proved that right.  There were 50 bloggers ROARING loudly about pediatric cancer and St. Baldrick’s yesterday.  One blogger’s voice and keyboard can be a powerful tool, but 50 collective voices and keyboards?  I think Walt Whitman said it best with the words “barbaric yawp.”  Thing is, though, that this March is gonna go out with a big ROAR, too, as the Donna’s Good Thing’s St. Baldrick’s shave will wrap up the month on March 30.  I am still reeling from the outpouring of love, support, stories, words, and blog posts from the participating bloggers.

From the bottom of my bursting heart, THANK YOU to all those who so willingly used their platform to talk about the not always popular topic of childhood cancer.  You are making a difference.

Without further ado, here they are . . .

Adventures of NinjaMama, “To Mary Tyler Mom, With Love”

Advice From Marta, “Cancer Sucks”

The Amazing, Affordable Adventures of Mama, Bunny and Pip, “Donna Day”

The Apocalyptic Ginger Chronicles, “Donna Day 2013”

Baby Sideburns, “Are You Kidding Me, Another Damn Holiday?  Oh Wait, It’s a Good One”

Cheaper Than Therapy,  “Donna’s Good Things:  St. Baldrick’s Event to Help Fight Childhood Cancer”

A City Mom, “It’s ‘Donna Day’ at ChicagoNow

The Crumb Diaries, “Curveballs:  Donna Day March 1, 2013”

Daddy Knows Less, “Feeling Blessed on #DonnaDay”

DeBie Hive, “Donna Day”

Deepest Worth, “Donna Day”

Dribbles and Grits, “Donna’s Day”

From the Bungalow, “Donna Day 2013:  Hair Grows Back”

Frugalista Blog, “Donna Day”

Get Fit Chicago, “If You Give a Runner a Tutu . . .”

Gig Masters, “Fundraiser for Kid’s Cancer”

Holy Fire, Cake Girl!, “Donna’s Day:  A Chance to Help Kids With Cancer”

Humble Writes Words, “It’s Donna Day!”

I Want a Dumpster Baby, “Choose Hope”

I’d Give You the Moon and Stars, “Donna’s Day”

Insane in the Mom Brain, “Donna Day!!!”

It Builds Character, “Donna Day:  Save Children’s Lives with St. Baldrick’s”

It’s Cool To Be OCD, “Donna Day”

Just Getting Started, “Support St. Baldrick’s and Donna’s Good Things”

Kissing the Frog, “Cancer Sucks, But We Can Do Good Things”

Shawn Renee Lent, “A Brain Tumor at My Dance Ricitle

Life As I See It, “Suck It, Cancer.  It’s Donna Day!”

Listing Toward Forty:  “Donna Day:  Support Pediatric Cancer Research”

Mary Tyler Mom, “Donna Day is Here!  Hooray!”

Moms Who Drink and Swear, “Sources Say It’s Donna Day:  The Facts About Getting the Facts Straight When It Comes to Funding For Pediatric Cancer Research”

Mother Naked, “Donna Day”

My Children Think I’m Perfect, “McTip’s Snips”

My Sports Complex, “Donna Day:  Playing in the Sand With Donna Lu”

Organized People Are Just Too Lazy to Look for Stuff, “It’s Donna Day!”

Part Time, “Spending Some Time With Donna to Beat Childhood Cancer”

Pinwheels and Poppies, “Donna Day 2013.  Let’s Do This”

Portrait of an Adoption, “Donna Day:  Raising Money for Pediatric Cancer Research In Memory of a Lovely Girl”

Razorblade Brain, “Change for Change”

Real Mom Nutrition, “It’s Donna Day”

Red Vines and Red Wine, “Celebrate Donna Day 2013 With Me!”

Ashbey Riley, “Celebrating Donna Day”

SarcasMom, “Donna Day Should be EVERY Day”

Stop and Blog the Roses, “Donna Day:  What Do Kids With Cancer Need?”

Suburban Scrawl, “It’s Donna Day!  #conquerkidscancer #DonnaDay”

Sweet Matthew Burr:  “Donna Day”

Tiny Steps Mommy, “Day Five:  Give Back Mission to Express Gratitude”

Tween Us, “Donna Day:  Raising Awareness and Money to Fund Childhood Cancer Research”

Ups and Downs of a Yoga Mom, “Today I Celebrate Donna Day by Donating to Pediatric Cancer”

We Band of Mothers, “Emily”

What a glorious Donna Day it was!  Thank you!

So I have no freaking idea why some of these links are in bold and other are not.  That is completely beyond my technical scope.  But subscribing to my favorite blogs is not!  You can do it, too! It’s true!

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Donna Day Is Here! Hooray!

This is just one of dozens of Donna Day posts published by bloggers across America today, March 1, 2013, all in support of raising $ and awareness for the good work of St. Baldrick’s, and the goal of conquering kids cancer.  I am humbled, overwhelmed, honored by the generosity of the blogging community that has embraced Donna as their own.    

I am Donna’s Mama.  I carried that girl in my belly, felt her kick inside me, was her sole form of nutrition for six months, fed her, bathed her, cuddled her, taught her her colors and numbers, loved her completely.  Life was so sweet, so good, so simple and uncomplicated.  Wake up, cuddle Donna, head to work or plan a day together, come home, cuddle Donna, sing and laugh and play.  We had it so very good, so very, very good.

And then this happened.

 

Donna during her stem cell harvest in 10/2007.
Donna during her stem cell harvest in 10/2007.

We moved to Cancerville and our lives were forever changed.  We had visited Cancerville before, caring for my Mom as she lived and died with her own brain tumor in 2004 and 2005.  This was different.  After moving to Cancerville with Donna, we learned that we would never leave.  It is our home now.  The neighborhood sucks, but damn, the neighbors are amazing.

Over three years after Donna’s death, I am still trying to wrap my head around the impact her life and story have on people.  First published in 2011, the response to Donna’s Cancer Story sort of threw me for a loop.  I hear from people around the world on a fairly regular basis about the impact Donna has had on them, how she has shaped their perspective.  People have stopped drinking or using drugs because of Donna.  People have opted to care for foster children because of Donna.  People have chosen to go into pediatric oncology nursing and doctoring because of Donna.  People have hugged their kids tighter and read them more stories and demonstrated more patience with unruly toddlers because of Donna.  People have gotten tattoos because of Donna.  People have consciously worked to help others in their community because of Donna.

You see what I mean?  It is both amazing and overwhelming and uplifting and makes me so damn proud to be her Mama.

One of those people was a reader like you.  Her name is Jamie.  She was the cousin of a friend who read Donna’s Cancer Story as it was being published in September 2011.  She wanted to help.  She wanted to make a difference.  Tentatively, she called me and we talked.  She proposed Donna’s Good Things, the charity we started after Donna died, host a St. Baldrick’s event.  Would I be interested?

Um.  Yes.

Right after Donna died, we wanted nothing more to do with cancer.  It had taken my mom and our daughter.  It had taken enough.  We wanted to do something to honor Donna, but didn’t want to give cancer any more of our time or attention.  Pfffft.  Yeah, right.  What the hell were we thinking? Pediatric cancer advocacy is now an important part of my life.  Jamie just knew that before I did.

With Jamie’s suggestion, we did our research on St. Baldrick’s.  WOW.  What a fantastic organization.  They have funded more childhood cancer research than any other entity outside the U.S. Government.  They have excellent charity ratings, an extremely streamlined administrative tier, and minimal overhead.  St. Baldrick’s is the real deal.  They were Donna-worthy, if you will.  We were in.

In just one year, Donna’s Good Things has raised over $130K for children in treatment for cancer.  BAM!  Let me tell you, there is no better way to tell cancer to SUCK IT than to help raise $ to banish it.  Our shavees know this.  Our donors know this.  I hope you know this.  And as of this year, no matter where you live, you too, can host a Donna’s Good Things shaving event in your own community.  Do you live in Montana?  NO PROBLEM!  Florida?  We got you covered?  Oregon?  New York?  California?  All things are possible with St. Baldrick’s.  Just email marytylermom@gmail.com or heather@stbaldricks.org and we will hook you up.  BOOM.

On Saturday, March 30, we will host our 2nd DGT St. Baldrick’s shaving event at Candlelite Chicago.  There will be shaving — and hey, if you have a head, you are still eligible to shave it — lots of dough can be raised in 30 days (that’s the blue button, yo).  There will be beer and pizza and burgers and tater tots.  There will be face painting.  There will be smiles.  There will be a tear or two.  There will be lots and lots of hair to sweep.  There will be cake. There will be bravery.  There will be children and old ladies and lots of folks in between.  There will be love.  There will be joy.  There will be gratitude. There will be HOPE.

Hope is what Donna taught me.  More than any other lesson, and damn, that little girl had so many lessons to share, the importance of hope and joy in our lives — just our day-to-day seemingly dreary lives — was just part of her DNA.  It is now part of my DNA.

Biologically, parents pass DNA to their children.  With Donna, it worked the other way.  That is just how damn amazing she was.  My life is more joyful and full and rich and hopeful for being Donna’s Mama.  Every day I thank her for what she has given to me, what she continues to give me and so many others.

You can do a Good Thing today and donate to our St. Baldrick’s event.  Just click on the green “DONATE” button and make a difference for a child and family undergoing cancer treatment.  It is a bitch, that cancer treatment.  Honestly.  Some days I never thought I would make it.  We lived a life for 31 months that I would not wish on anyone.  Today we live a different life.  It is calmer than while we were in active treatment, but it can be sad and lonely.  Quiet.  We miss our girl, our Donna.  We thank the stars above that Donna left us with joy and love and hope and the finest example of how to live a full and complete life.

Please, consider donating.  Now.  Not later.  Not tomorrow or next week.  You’ll forget.  You will.  I know, cause I do it all the time.  Our lives are busy and frantic and crowded with responsibilities.  In the midst of that, think of Donna and all the kiddos and families who live in Cancerville.  It is damn crowded in here, let me tell you.  We could you your help — $5, $10, $20 and up — every dollar makes a difference when it goes for research.

Tell ’em Donna sent you.

I need you.  YOU.
I need you. YOU.
Get, scootin!  Children with cancer need your help!
Get, scootin! Children with cancer need your help!

Thank you, folks!  Donna Day is one of our favorite days of the year.  

 

Donna’s Cancer Story: Why You Should Share It

Today is Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, smack dab in the middle of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

Not writing this year, I feel a little bit like I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs, waiting.  But what am I waiting for?  What do I expect to happen?  I don’t know honestly.  Is it Matt Lauer calling to want to interview me?  Nah, but that would be nice.  Is it Oprah, having suddenly seen the light that pediatric cancer is a worthwhile topic?  Nope, that’s not it.  I think it’s you I might be waiting for — yes, YOU. 

Raising awareness for a pediatric cancer needs to be a grassroots effort.  That means you and me and you and you and you and you and you and you and you, there in the back, yeah, you, too.  The thirty six children that will be diagnosed today need better options for their care.  They need options that will not only allow them to survive, but allow them not to be scarred by their treatments.  They need treatments that will not result in them requiring hormone replacement therapy to grow or hearing aids to hear or surrogates to carry the babies their bodies can no longer grow, as their reproductive organs have been trashed by the toxic cures available to them. 

One in 300 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they turn 20 year old.   Did you know that? 

Before Donna was diagnosed, I was probably a lot like you.  I had heard of children with cancer, but didn’t know any.  I felt badly for the kids in the St. Jude’s advertisements in movie theatres, but those kids were forgotten by the time film rolled.  And you know what?  That’s life.  We are busy and stressed and pulled in a thousand different directions.  These days, I am pulled in a lot fewer directions.  Cancer clarifies a lot of things.  It shows you what is important and who is important.  It puts you in touch with an inner strength that you never thought possible.  I wrote earlier this week that I am more focused — laser focused. 

Having buried Donna, knowing that she will never come back, that no treatment will ever bring her back to us, I feel for the kids still in the game and those that have a spot waiting for them.  They’re warming the bench now, but that errant cell is inside them, tick, tick, ticking, waiting for it’s opportunity to reproduce and reproduce and reproduce, resulting in cancer.  That child could be yours.  That child could be mine.  I shudder at that thought.

The U.S. government devotes approximately $5 billion a year to cancer research.  4% of that goes to pediatric cancer research.  We have not yet won the War on Cancer, declared by President Nixon in 1971, when I was a wee girl of two.  The American Cancer Society (loathed by Cancer Parents everywhere) does so little for pediatric cancer it is pathetic.  One-half penny of every dollar donated to ACS funds pediatric cancer research.  I will guarantee you, though, that their fundraising pitches include TONS of images of children.  Yuck.  ACS can suck it just like cancer can.

At the end of the series I will run a piece about what folks can do to help, but for right now, I need you to do something else.

I need you to share Donna’s Cancer Story.  When I wrote it last year, my intent was very strategic.  I firmly believed, and still do, that if people came to know and love a child with cancer, they could not help but become better aware and involved.  I know that because it is what happened to me.  Were it not for Donna, I would still be that gal welling up at the bald children, then blithely going about her busy day.  Be better than me.  I need you to be better than me.

Last week a personal facebook friend shared Donna’s Cancer Story in her news feed.  It was prefaced by some moving and inspiring words of hers about how since she read it last year, pediatric cancer has struck closer to home, more than once.  One of her friends wrote on the thread, “I don’t need to read more inspirational stories to know that the struggle with cancer is significant and painful.”  Ouch.  Damn that hurt like a kick to my stomach.  I wrote back, as did my friend, chiding him.  Her friend responded, “I feel for your friend and sympathize with your situation. A lot of people post much more ‘here’s an inspirational story for you’ material that I find trite.” 

I challenged this stranger to read Donna’s Cancer Story, to commit to reading it for ten minutes a day for the 31 days, and that if it did not move him, if he did not feel changed by coming to know Donna and her lessons, I would gladly donate $25 to the charity of his choice.  A couple of days later, this man private messaged me.  Here is what he wrote, “Ok. I read it. And it is moving, as I expected it to be. But it is also the first of 30 (!) pieces, and I simply do not have the time to read them all. I’m sure inspirational stories have their place, but they do seem to take over FB at times. Your work with families is valuable. Keep it up.”

Ouch.  Again, ouch. 

That exchange might seem like a reason NOT to share Donna’s Cancer Story, but I think it is the opposite.  His reaction fuels me and my advocacy.  I have heard from too many of you over the past year who found me and my writing through Donna.  I have literally hundreds of testimonials from folks whose lives have been changed for the better because of the time and emotion they spent reading it.  Reading about Donna enables you to know Donna.  Knowing Donna enables you to know cancer and the role it plays with families.  That knowing has translated into DOING by hundreds more of you. 

In March, Donna’s Good Things, our charity, sponsored a St. Baldrick’s shaving event.  This was conceived and organized by one of you, a reader, now doer.  That event raised over $77K for St. Baldrick’s, the leading funder of pediatric cancer research after the US government.  We had dozens and dozens of shavees — many women much braver than myself.  Some traveled to Chicago from Indianapolis, Atlanta, Michigan, and California.  Doers, all of them.  One of those shavees, a brave writer, wrote about her experience here.  She is definitely a doer.  I heart doers.

Now those examples are pretty extraordinary.  And both time and $ heavy.  But there are so many things you can do to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.  One easy thing is sharing Donna’s story.  Challenge your network to read about a little girl who is still making Good Things happen, three years after her death.  The awareness leads to understanding and many times that understanding leads to doing. 

Donna can no longer tell her story.  As her mother, I can and must.  Please help me do that.  Share.  Be a doer.  I will heart you forever.