August 5th. For our family there’s the life before August 5th, 2011 and the life after. This day is deep marker in our lives, a reminder of our pain, struggles, and ultimately, the deep gratitude we have for what we have learned, how we’ve connected, and the quality of the time we have gained. Today, four years ago, my sweet Max was diagnosed with brain cancer. I am filled with memories of the shock, pain, ambulance ride, guilt, and visions from the PICU that evening, trying to tell Max a story that would help him fight and heal. I wasn’t aware yet, but I was becoming a “Cancer Mom”.
Also four years ago today my dear friend Kristine faced her daughter McKenna’s eighth birthday just two weeks after losing her to brain cancer. McKenna should be twelve today. There is never a day that goes by where I do not consider Macky when I think of Max’s journey. There is not a day that goes by where I do not ask myself how my courageous friend does it, how does she lean in to this pain so fiercely to help others?
Four years later I stand up to cancer for what Max has endured, a deeply defining half of his young life.
Four years later I work daily in honor of McKenna, for what Kristine, Dave, and Jordan endure, with the devastating pain of missing her bright Shine each day.
I am not a Cancer Mom because this happened to us. I have become a Cancer Mom for the fight, because Max and I, my husband and daughter, our family and community, all choose the fight. I know so many fierce and courageous Cancer Moms, like Kristine, who’ve done the same, changing their communities for the better and making a huge difference in the lives of others. It’s a choice, for all that cancer takes we must bring hope to this world.
Four years later Max is still fighting courageously. He still faces cancer in his brain and spine. After one and a half years of chemo, five brain surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and two years thriving on a very strict dietary protocol, we are incredibly fortunate that Max has had two years of relative stability. He’s been thriving against tremendous odds. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the chances we’ve had to thrive. We know our story is not everyone’s story. Max is a gift to us each and every day.
Four years later our family faces the realities of compounded, long-term acute stress. Studies show that moms face this disproportionately, by the way. Four years later we need our community as much as ever. Four years later, as her family faces each day courageously coping, McKenna’s fight continues as her cell line proves to be essential to finding answers to fighting DIPG.
Honoring Max, Macky, and all of our fierce heroes, please head into a Chevron station (in California) TODAY and contribute to the MCF Butterfly Tour or make a $4 donation to MCF to support pediatric brain cancer research.
Thank you all for being our Community of Hope and for fighting on, thriving on, with Max and all of the families we stand up for.