Saturday evening, I had the amazing privilege of sharing Leah’s story at the Wish Ball for the Make-A-Wish foundation. It was an honor. Spending the last month preparing for my 10 minute speech had me deeply thinking about our 14 month walk through the dark, cancer tunnel with Leah.
The guest philanthropists were gracious and appreciative of hearing Leah’s story. It brought to life the need to help seriously ill children by granting them their wishes. I am so grateful that Leah lives on in our hearts and now also lives on in the hearts of 1000 people who attended the Wish Ball.
Kind guests shared with me, “Wow, I don’t know how you did that. I couldn’t have done that if it was my child’s story. You are brave. I really don’t know how you did that.”
How can I begin to even share how I did it?
Truth is…I am compelled to tell Leah’s story. I love her deeply. Her life was beautiful and her passing is heartbreaking.
Cancer wreaks havoc in all our lives: the person’s life, family members lives and community. The ripple affect is devastating. It’s a monster that ravages across the landscape of thousands of families.
Children dying is tragically wrong – whether through illness, drunk drivers, abuse, suicide or accidents.
Children dying makes it appear that evil wins.
From an eternal perspective, I believe diseases totally lose, but I want cancer to lose here and now too. How can gains against cancer happen? Can I be part of its destruction and attempt to “fight fire with fire?”
The expression fighting fire with fire means to fight one’s opponent by using a similar method as one’s attacker. We need to stomp out cancer and grind it to the dust.
Does the fight against childhood illness need to be an aggressive, angry act, or can it be a gracious, good act? Can it be: sharing hope for a healthy future? Funding for a cure? Acts of kindness? Acts of giving?
I do believe that by doing something good we are fighting fire with fire. For example, in the case of serious illness, a child’s emotional state is often depleted. It can be the support of others and beautiful organizations such as Make-A-Wish that keep children positive and give them energy to keep pressing forward. Our Wish trip to Paris totally energized Leah and helped her engage in life the days that we had her with us.
Leah told one of her best friends that when she got well, she wanted to help kids with cancer. I am so proud of her. And I want to fulfill this wish of hers.
Since high school, I have had a passion for excellence in communication. My major in college was speech and communications. All my career roles have focused on sharing and promoting thoughts and ideas. My desire is to take this learned ability and passion and use it for good to honor my daughter. I want to fight back with my words.
There is a time to stand up and advocate for the voiceless. As Leah’s mom, I am making the deliberate choice to partner with God by bringing light into the darkness – speaking up to help other kids. At Wish Ball, I trust that sharing Leah’s story gained some ground in pressing back the darkness.
I know that I can’t constantly stay in the fighting mode. There are days that I curl up in a ball and weep. My crying time tends to be when I am alone – in the shower. I also cry with other parents who have lost their children, and parents presently serving their children who have serious illnesses.
There is a time to replenish and rest in the arms of the God of love. And I did this yesterday.
You have wonderful talents and gifts. I encourage you to use your knowledge and skills to bring light to any darkness around you.
Make-A-Wish fulfilled Leah’s full Paris wish. During our trip, we forgot to bring a lock for the Love Lock Bridge. She was so disappointed. So, the Make-A-Wish staff sent a lock with her name and picture on it to Paris. She now has a lock on the famous bridge and we have an identical lock at home with us. Beautiful. I love Make-A-Wish.