Recently, while taking my daughter Cassie to Gymnastics class, I got a wake-up call that could not be ignored. I sat and watched 3 year old Riley, a classmate, attack each tumbling obstacle without fear and full of spirit. You might think that this is no big deal for a 3 year old, but Riley has only one arm. 6 months prior, Riley lost his arm to an extremely rare form of Cancer.
I was quickly reminded of the scare we, as a family, experienced when Cassie was 3 months old. She had one pupil more responsive than the other. We were told it was symptomatic of either Neuroblastoma (Brain Cancer), or a harmless birth defect (Anisicoria). Going through the process of diagnosing Cassie was one of the darkest times experienced as a family.
There in the waiting area, as I became acquainted with Riley’s Mother, I could only imagine how their life was turned upside-down as a result of Riley’s diagnosis. My eyes became weepy, remembering what we went through with Cassie, and realizing that it was merely a fraction of what their family experienced.
Our family was blessed in that Cassie’s diagnosis was Anisicoria, a harmless birth defect. So to that end I feel the need to pay it forward, so to speak, and take action to help others dealing with and surviving Cancer. I will be participating in the LIVESTRONG® Challenge Austin this October, running a 5K and bicycling 90 miles, raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. While I am only obligated to raise $250, my personal goal is $3,000.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation believes that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, the LAF provides the practical information and tools people living with cancer need to live life on their own terms. Their mission is to inspire and empower people affected by cancer and they serve this mission through advocacy, public health and research programs.
Whenever I feel like pressing the snooze button instead getting out of bed, I remind myself of why I chose to sign up for this event. I’m doing this because one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. I’m doing this for Riley, who has become one of those three. I’m doing this because our family is grateful Cassie is healthy and we don’t want to take that for granted. Mostly, though, I am doing this because I can.