It’s Purple

It is purple. A symbol of victory. A symbol of hope. It is the Relay for Life survivor shirt. I cannot tell you how it feels to put on that purple t-shirt each year. Such a simple thing really, but it reminds me of my victory every time I slip it over my head…like a badge of honor that validates the journey. When I wear it, I remember how I earned it. I remember the fight. I don’t know if it has that same effect on other survivors or not, my guess is that it does. As our school team captain, I order these purple symbols each year for our survivors. It is important for me to get this order correct. This year it caught me off guard, because this year I ordered three children’s sizes for some students at my school. In my mind, they should not have to make survivor shirts that small.
Two students are still undergoing treatment, one has made her five year mark. To see these kids around school you would never know they were familiar with Cancerland. They run and play just like all the others, but last week one boy had a treatment. He was out most of the week, but came back for testing. (Don’t you just love what testing has done to our kids that they would come the week of chemo to complete the test?!) Anyway, I walked past the nurse’s office during the day. He was laying on the bed, pale as a ghost, trying to rest. I have to tell you I had to stop and take a moment. I recognized that look. The memories for me came in a rush, the tears welled up in my eyes before I could stop them. My throat tightened and I had to swallow hard. A child should NOT have to endure this. My heart broke and out of it, anger at this disease rose up once again.
By its very nature cancer steals, kills and destroys life. When you watch it, whether it is happening to you or someone you love, you see the toll it takes, not only on the body, but on the emotions as well. These children and their families are living it out, day to day…year to year. Leukemia and lymphoma are brutal. The treatment is long and harsh. Spinal taps and hospital stays are a regular part of the treatment. Trying to regain some normalcy between treatments is a near impossible task. And how do parents live with the fear of losing a child while sitting beside his/her bed? How do they withstand the constant doctor visits with a child who cannot possibly fully understand the ramifications of this disease? How do they hold their children down while medical procedures are perpetrated again and again on the body? I cannot even begin to fathom what that must be like. Nightmare is not a strong enough word. These families need our support and our care.
And while I will never understand the why of childhood cancer, I do understand is this…we MUST find a cure. I don’t know how long it will take, but we have to keep going. This year I Relay for the students at our school. I fight, as a warrior, on their behalf. I will walk, or hobble if need be. I will raise money. I will do whatever I can to help these families and the ones coming after to avoid the dreaded “C” word. Will you join me in the battle? Relay for Life is this Friday May 13th at WCHS. Come take a stand for the children and make a difference.

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