March 11, 2007

Eyes and Hearts Open

My husband and I had a black tie affair to attend last week. My husband’s business partner and wife were the co-chairs with another couple, and so we went to support them, as well as support the cause.

The cause? Leukemia and lymphoma.

My husband’s partner’s father died of leukemia nearly three years ago. His death marked us all. It was the first time I had ever sat Shiva with a family. It was a healing experience, sitting Shiva, and it was wonderful getting to know the family better… funny stories, sadness, laughter, all mixed in. He was a good man and watching the events unfold as his life was snuffed out early by this horrible disease was worse that difficult to watch.

My best friend from high school, PFB, was in town this week with her husband and son, Mr. Smoochy Pants. They watched my boys while my husband and I attended. The boys had a fantastic time with them, playing with PFBs husband and Mr. Smoochy… and PFB had her hands full!

My husband and I had been at the event for awhile, milling around, seeing people we knew. Everyone had come out in full force to support my husband’s business partner, so for once, we were at an event where I knew quite a few people. That makes a big difference.

As my husband and I were walking around talking, looking at items on the silent auction (we look only… we could never afford to bid) I noticed all these kids at this event. Teenagers down to pre-school children, dressed in tuxes and beautiful gowns fit for princes and princesses. This is ‘the season’ down here and we attend a couple functions a year, but never have we seen children in attendance.

I said to my husband, “Wow. Look at that. The people who put this together this year must have put so much time and energy into it, they included their families…” My husband looked around and said, ‘yeah, look at that. I’ve not seen that done before!”

Kids added a different feeling to the event. An exuberance. The teenage boys looked a bit bored, the teenage girls looked like they were excited to be dressed up and pretty, and the younger kids looked like they were having fun.

And so we sat at our table, talking amongst friends, and the speakers came out and spoke of people we knew of that had died this year of leukemia or lymphoma. The gala chairs stood up and said a few words.

And then the next speaker came out, a man who looked to be my age, and he started to speak and tell us of when his son… was diagnosed with ALL… nearly three years ago. And his sons, the son with leukemia and his brother, jumped up and joined him on the podium… and there was a revelation for all of us…

The children at this event? They all had leukemia or lymphoma… or were the family members of a child that did.

It was as if we felt a blow to the stomach. The mixed emotions of wanting to hug these children or vomit at the thought of what they were going through. Leukemia and Lymphona not only affect the person diagnosed, but the families as well. It is a long reaching disease.

Cures for these diseases are often found through private research. The new drug Gleevec, a drug given now to people with a form of chronic leukemia, was found during private research. Gleevec is hoped to be an eventual cure, or lead to one, and now assists in putting the blood cancer in remission and keeping it there. I knew of Gleevec already… it came out 3 months after the death of a friend of mine who could have used it… if it had just been a year earlier.

What I did not know is that childhood ALL now has a cure rate of 80%. When I was a child it was 3%.

And I took heart in the statistics, watching the children around us… I have hope. One day the cure will be 100%. And maybe one day… we’ll be able to prevent it.

Posted by Boudicca at March 11, 2007 08:46 PM | TrackBack

Dash's four year old nephew succombed to leukemia a few short years ago.

He also lost his maternal grandfather to the disease.

Posted by: Christina at March 12, 2007 08:28 AM

Thank you for sharing this...cancer is affecting our family right now, and it's reassuring to see people working to help find a cure. And remembering that cancer can strip your humanity...your event kept the people important, rather than the disease itself.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at March 12, 2007 04:39 PM

Thank you for sharing this in a way that made me feel like I was there and for supporting such an event. We have family members on both sides of our family who have been/are struggling/have succumbed to cancer.

Posted by: Lemon Stand at March 12, 2007 06:00 PM

Sitting shiva...I know this custom all too well. My best friend's mom just died last week and so I visited him while he sat for her; my grandmother died in October, and so my dad had to sit for a week as well. Sad, no doubt, but a purely soul-cleansing experience.

As for leukemia & lymphoma...wretched diseases which robbed me of many quality relatives. I, too, hope a cure is found asap.

Posted by: Erica at March 13, 2007 05:41 PM