Friday, January 14, 2011

A Glimpse of a 7-year old's Thoughts on Cancer

My 7 year old daughter has a 2nd grade project which involves writing a book.  As I recently tucked her into bed, she began sharing some details with me.

This week in school they were asked to choose a topic they were very knowledgeable about.  Rachel asked me to start guessing her topic.  Our conversation proceeded like this:

"That's easy, cats."  (She writes about cats a lot)

 "Nope, try again."

"Hmmm, Julie - your new American Girl doll." 

"Wrong again. Guess again."

"Ok, singing and dancing?" (I mean she does sing and dance around the house A LOT).

"Wrong again Mom."

"I give up....what did you pick?"

"Cancer is BAD."

I was stunned.....speechless.....choked up....fighting back the tears that threatened to swell up.

This just isn't fair....and yes, I realize life isn't fair.  But, my little baby girl, who celebrates every birthday with the anniversary of her dad's passing the day before, shouldn't even know about cancer, let alone that it is bad.

She should be thinking about Hannah Montana, riding her bike, doing cart wheels, playing make believe with her dolls.

Cancer shouldn't even be in her vocabulary.

I was curious....exactly what is going on in that little head of hers.  So I had to ask, "Why is cancer bad?"

Her response was, "It hurts families.  It kills daddies.  It makes girls and boys miss their daddies."

Again, choking up, I replied, "I miss your daddy too."

She said, "I am so glad I have my mommy though."  And with that, she reached up and gave me a big hug.  Then said, :"I love you mommy.  You aren't alone."  WOW!  A 7 year old!

And to that, I say to cancer.....WATCH OUT.  Not only am I coming to kick your ass - but there is a fireball red-headed 7 year old also looking to take you down.  You can hurt me, you can hurt my husband, my sister, my parents.....but NO ONE hurts my kids.

Rachel before her 5K

This is why I am so passionate about raising funds for LiveSTRONG.  Why I log the miles, why I ask for donations, why I talk about the amazing things this great organization does to provide hope and support to those fighting cancer.

I do not want other children to grow-up without a parent.  I did it myself (my mom passed away from Leukemia when I was 3) and now my own children are being raised without one parent.  They are different from their friends.  They have been forced to face reality and worry about things their friends have never even thought about.  

The picture on the left is of Rachel on her 7th birthday honoring her father's memory (and giving cancer her own notice) by running her first 5K at the Philadelphia LiveSTRONG Challenge (she ran it in 42 minutes!).

I have seen firsthand how cancer has "changed" my children.

My oldest son is VERY driven.....VERY.   He is extremely serious and focused on being successful in life.  Great news for a teenager, right?  As a parent, I should be thrilled about this, except part of this focus is for the wrong reasons.  He wants to be successful because he does not believe he will live beyond 40; he thinks cancer will shorten his life as it did his dad at 38, my mom at 39 and my sister at 46.  He sees the glass half empty.  The carnage cancer has left behind in our family drives many of his decisions.

I hate...
that my boys don't have their dad there to coach them like all their friends do;
that often times there is no one cheering them on at a game because I can only be in one place at a time;
that I can't volunteer at all the school events because I have to work;
that I have to work....that I don't work because it is a nice option.....not working isn't an option;
that my kids have seen their mother cry numerous times at the drop of a hat because at some point, trying to manage it all becomes overwhelming.

There has been some some opportunities (this is me trying to find positives in this awful mess cancer handed us).  My kids will eventually leave the nest and know how to...
do laundry;
do the dishes;
make a meal or two;
unclog a toilet;
put up a Christmas tree;
fix a garbage disposal;
take out the trash;
clean up after the sump pump fails;
jump a battery when the car door is left ajar in single digit temps;
change a furnace filter.

When it comes right down to it though, I am sure my kids would still prefer to have a lifetime with their father than the ability to successfully complete a check-list of household chores.

Rachel is right.....CANCER IS BAD!

Please join me in kicking cancer's ass!  Maybe join me in a Team LiveSTRONG event - run, walk or bike....or even volunteer.  Join Team LiveSTRONG

To make a donation in support of my 200 miles to beat cancer, you can do so online at the link below:
Donate to Support Barbara's LiveSTRONG efforts...Cancer is BAD


  1. What a fantastic kid you have! Thanks so much for sharing this story with us. We wanted to let you know that we created a curriculum for school kids about cancer, cancer survivorship, prevention and how to help others facing the disease. It's called LIVESTRONG at School and is available for free download at It's age appropriate too. It may be a great tool for your daughter's class. Peace and strength to your family.

  2. Wow - I totally teared up reading this. Thanks for sharing. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you!

  3. Barb, this is why we do our 'thang' ...I also teared up and then instantly gained another vertebrae to my backbone. much love, hope & courage as you accomplish your runningSTRONG for Hope, Know I will always be here with you my dear friend a.k.a. 'The best Date