Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cancer Sucks

Cancer. Sucks. I don't know any better way to put it. So that's the simple way.

I wasn't really around a lot last week into this past weekend. I was online intermittently, on my iPhone which I find to be a pain most of the time. Saturday mornings are always crazy because I try to go on the treadmill before I have to leave the house to take E to ballet around 9:30a. Then it seems like a whirlwind of class and errands or playdates or who knows what. But this Saturday was a little different....

I rarely have the ringer turned to actually make noise on my phone. I turn it off right before I go to bed, if I had remembered to turn it on sometime during the day. Then it usually takes me till dinnertime to remember to turn it if I bother. No one really calls me and I look at my phone enough usually so I'd see if I had a text.

I didn't have my phone set to ring on Saturday. I went to class, we hung out in the parking lot talking to my friend Andrea for longer than usual- without my phone. Then E and I went to Marshalls, Loehmanns and some other places. Just doing my normal thing. All neglecting my phone. When I finally got home my phone was blowing up with messages asking me if I'd heard....

About Angelina Phillips. No. I hadn't. And once I did, I truly wanted to believe it was a mistake. A false diagnosis. Someone who quickly jumped the gun with a bad guess. But it is....true. The most unfortunate of the unfortunate. Horror of all horrors. Angelina, a smiley, good-natured, happy, beautiful three and a half year old, diagnosed out of the blue, after some leg pain and a long lasting low grade fever, with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.

I've known Angelina since she was born. Her mom, Danielle Phillips had taken over the Stroller Strides Franchise in Bergen County in July 2009. E was just about six months old and I came to the opening class/party in Riverside Square in Hackensack. Danielle was pregnant with Angelina. After she gave birth, Danielle quickly got back to work and Angelina (and Aiden too!) were fixtures in our thrice-weekly classes. Angelina was always a happy baby, never fussing during class, and just happy to be there. I stayed with Stroller Strides until E was over two and a half years old! As long as he'd sit in the stroller, I was there. It was the best workout I ever had. To be honest, it was the only workout I'd ever been able to commit to in my entire life. I didn't want to give it up. But, E started school in September of 2011 and I really had no reason to come anymore. I came a few times sans child but it was becoming silly. It was time for me to "graduate". I also went back to work a few months later. Aiden and Angelina had gone to school too at that point so all our "babies" were grown!

We had kind of a small tight knit group of moms that were like the "founding mothers" of this franchise. We had gone to a lot of moms nights out together, knew each other pretty well, and when something like this happens...well, you feel like you are called to act. It really hits too close to home. All of our kids are close in age to Angelina- they spent sometimes six mornings a week together. We all went through a lot of firsts together. This could be any one of our children.

You just don't expect it. There is no rhyme or reason. What I struggle with the most is the "HOW" of how parents find this kind of thing out. Obviously every fever and leg pain isn't cancer. But...sometimes it is. It's just mindblowing to think how one day it's just a nagging inconvenience and the next day a doctor is telling you it's the Big C. How your world changes in the blink of an eye. I know just from Jocelyn's diagnosis last June and a longtime online friend of mine, Michelle, just diagnosed a couple of months ago, how insane and unfair it is and how shocking. I don't know if it's "better" to be three and not really understand what's going on or to be thirty-eight where you can figure out how to cope. I just don't know and wish none of us had to know.

I'm just sort of rambling. I know cancer happens. I know all too well. A lot of my extended family is dead because of cancers. I have also had people close to me beat cancer. B and I got swabbed to be bone marrow donors for a little boy Ezra who went to the same music school as E. I'd donate marrow in a nanosecond if I was called upon to try to help save someone's life. While there have been quite a few matches out of the drives for Ezra, he's yet to be in remission or cancer-free. And for him- I found out about him when he was around a year and a half and he has to be almost four years old now. It's just so frustrating that it's SO HARD to find a match and then the match has to take. Ezra had a stem cell transplant that didn't take. It was like he was SO CLOSE. Every diagnosis is also just so heartbreaking, unfair, devastating and...I don't know what.

I briefly spoke to Danielle and she is going to set up a PO Box for care packages to Angelina and a donations page. I assume she's going to be spending a lot of time in the hospital so coloring books, paper, crayons, dolls, games, music, etc would all be appropriate. I have two websites for updates, information, donations for now, etc. I will continuously update this page and tweet/FB it everytime there is something new added. Angelina is starting chemotherapy on May 15th. That's all I know right now. But Danielle or another mutual friend will be letting me know any news so I can quickly update.

Here is info on getting swabbed and an event to benefit the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation-

I just want to add in Ezra, Jocelyn & Michelle's pages if anyone is looking for their info too. These are some of the strongest people I know. Cancer is a war they're fighting and cancer isn't going to win.

Please feel free to share this blog from my personal FB page or my Know It All FB page or directly from here. The more eyes, the more help. Appreciate it!

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