The Business About Awareness

3.8%

That is the total amount of federal funding for all kids cancers.  And no, that is not per child.  Just think about that for a bit. 

3.8%…

Tessa Carey 011.jpg

Segue…

I hear you now.  Another pitch begging to raise awareness.  That’s fair.  After all, I am not the only person out there trying to grab your attention for a cause.  Here is my awareness spiel.

People, often friends, ask me how on earth they choose where to donate to and who to support.  These days everyone has something to advocate for.  More and more, medically driven causes seem to be where our funds are needed most.  So if you so choose to donate spare monies, how do you decide where to give it?  What are other ways to help?  Here is what I think is important when it comes to supporting any great cause.

-Find a cause(s) you are passionate about.  It is always easier to give to something you care deeply for.  My heart is primarily rooted in Down syndrome research and finding cures for childhood cancer.  Some people prefer donating to one cause, while I spread it across a few different places.

-Donate regularly. You can donate as often as you would like to a cause, but I prefer donating either every six months or once every year.  Many causes and coalitions have at least one major fundraising event throughout the year.  They also have either one day or an entire month that is dedicated to raising awareness, and primarily funds.  The best way to help your cause get ahead is to donate regularly. 

-Volunteer.  Another great way to donate is by giving your time.  Volunteers are a huge part of what makes an organization successful when you consider that a vast majority of them are ran by volunteered time.  Whether you have an hour to spare or extra time each month or if you can help at an annual event, know that that time spent helping will be greatly appreciated.

-Educate.  If you are unable to donate time or money, at least educate yourself on a cause you may be curious and stand for it.  Causes do not just need funding, they need voices.  Learning about a cause or organization as well as understanding why they do what they do is important for you and for your cause.  Use your voice to carry out their message.  If you care for the cause, tell someone why!

Most importantly, be respectful.  During the great ALS Ice Bucket Challenge just a few weeks ago, it broke my heart to see people who were so annoyed that people were dumping water on their heads, saying things like “Stop dumping water on your head already and just give your money…” and remarking how “stupid” it all was.  I mean seriously, anyone who was that annoyed with the videos did not have to watch them.  I’ll tell you something—I am so freaking glad I watched that many people freeze their butts off for a few seconds!  In the process I learned more about ALS, even though I know a few families who have been affected by the disease.  It was ice water and a brief moment of time that helped a ton of people out.  If you don’t like what an organization is doing to benefit themselves, then just pass them by quietly.  And to be perfectly honest, I was a tad bit jealous that they were able to raise so much money!  Can you imagine what that kind of push would have done for childhood cancer or cancer in general?!  Nevertheless, people dumping ice water on their heads a hundred different ways was awesome.  Bottom line, respect what a group is doing even if being respectful means saying “good for them” and moving on—which, by the way, would be totally appropriate.  If it were you or your loved one, you would want people to understand.  More than likely, you would appreciated being supported.

Don’t like supporting a cause?  That is okay.  You don’t have to.  But know that people will continue to raise awareness around you in this world.  I really do believe that supporting any cause or organization is good for our souls.  Supporting a cause in any way gives me something to believe in.  It lets me have a hand in something bigger than myself.

Having said all of that, I am using my voice to tell you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Cancer sucks, right?  I mean really, who out there actually is like “Yay for cancer!”  No one, that’s who.  Cancer is especially horrible for kids and babies.  Never in a million years did I think I would be a cancer mom and the day before Tessa was diagnosed, I wasn’t.  But I am now, and it is my job to tell you why our kids deserve more than 3.8% of federal funding. 

Tessa Carey 027.jpg

View the entire list of childhood cancer facts on The Truth 365 website or any of the sights listed below.  Everyday 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer.  That’s way too many.  Every day, 7 children die from a form of the disease.  That’s too many as well…even 1 would be too many. Cancer is the leading cause of death (by disease) in kids in the United States.  There has to be more than can be done.  For now we can’t guarantee a cure, but we can guarantee hope for children and their families by teaming up against cancer!

Tessa Carey 024.jpg

Without awareness, we don’t have money.  Without money, we can’t help our kids.  Wear your gold or whip a cream pie in your face (that’s right, pie in the face challenge)!  Learn the disturbing facts about kids with cancer during and after treatment.  Donate any way that you can.  Those spare pennies really do add up when you think about what it takes to help a child fight cancer, even outside of treatment.  Our future is worth more than 3.8%.  Check out the links I have posted here.  We need way more than awareness to keep our kids alive; we need cures! 

Badger Childhood Cancer Network 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand 

Kids V Cancer

St. Baldricks

Cure Childhood Cancer

Dear Tessa: It’s A Great Big World

Dear Tessa,

Tomorrow morning your Dad and I will wake you up a little earlier than the summer sleep pattern you are used to.  I will make you breakfast and get you dressed. Your bag is already packed–it has been for weeks.  We will finish our morning at home and eventually head to the car, while I fight back an insane amount of tears.

Tomorrow is your first day of school.  Four half days a week at an elementary school will now be your new routine, and I can’t believe just how fast it came.  I swear all I did was turn around and you were one; then turned once more and we celebrated you turning three.  How did you get so big?  For the last three years, Daddy and I influenced you and watched you bloom into the little girl that you are now becoming. The blessing of you being able to go to school after this past year doesn’t escape me, nor does the anxiety of sending you.  But I know that I have to let go.  I have to let you dip your toes into new water with more independence than any of us are used to. And even though I am not quite ready for this book to begin, I will be right there with Dad guiding you through each new page.  In the end, it will all be alright.

wpid-photogrid_1409171389082.jpg

We will adjust to the new schedule and transition.  We will talk regularly about new happenings at school.  We will watch you flourish and welcome any challenges along the way.  If you handle this transition the way you have handled any other other, I know you will be poised even in the midst of uncertainty–accosting each new road with the kind of confidence I wish I had.  (That, you get from Dad.)

You are just three little years young and some day this will all make sense to you.  At three years old you have faced more adversity than most adults have in a lifetime so even though this letter seems intense for your age, it feels totally appropriate for your soul.  I know you are destined to make a known mark here.  It’s a great big world out there Tess.  But it is not one that you can’t grasp.  I have watched you in fleeting moments of bliss and equal moments of weakness.  I have seen you fall hard, yet rise up like no other. There is nothing that you can’t do.  Nothing.  As long as you believe that you can, you always will.  Jim Carrey said it best and even though you are light-years from graduating, I want you to always remember this:

“You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world and after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Do everything out of love, my dear, and you will go far.

The mom living outside of me wants to hold your hand forever, while the mom inside of my heart is begging me to let you take flight.  I assume the richness of parenting also comes from letting go.  My job is not to carry you through hand picked opportunities, although that certainly sounds ideal.  Our biggest job as parents is to enrich the seeds we planted with the means to grow as individuals, who will one day cultivate their own dreams.

Go forth and grow little seed.  You will do great.

wpid-photogrid_1409599476083.jpg

Love, Mom