First I went over there on Friday to help set up. We were hanging out, making signs, putting together raffle baskets, drinking wine, eating Chinese food...
Somewhere in there, Beth told us that she'd had an appointment with her surgical oncologist. The first in a year! Everything looks good for her, but the doctor mentioned a slight increase in her risk for pancreatic cancer.
It's not likely. (Of course, you know how I feel about statistical odds...) But it's still shitty. She cried when she told us because after two years of treatments and surgeries and recovery, she wants to stop being afraid. And now she feels like there's one more thing to fear.
Beth found out she had cancer on Coco's birthday.
That's not quite true, but that's how I remember it in my head. Beth had told us she'd get results on Wednesday, so when she called on Tuesday when I was home from the hospital, I blabbed on and on about Coco's labor and delivery and how I was feeling and how sweet the baby was and how much I missed Eliza and how relieved I was that Coco was here and healthy.
Beth let me talk, asked questions, and celebrated Coco with me. And then, after we'd been on the phone about thirty minutes, she told me the biopsy results were in. Cancer.
I will never forget how she put my baby before her health issues. (I also felt like a huge jackass, but she'd told me that she wouldn't know anything until the next day.)
After I got off the phone with her, I held my new baby and cried. I was scared for Beth and I was scared with Beth. Breast cancer at 34? Cancer? It seemed impossible except that it wasn't.
My greatest fear right now is that one of my kids will get cancer.
I know there are other scary things that could happen--and scariest of all is perhaps what you can't even imagine. But childhood cancer is real and it terrifies me. There are so many stories of survivors. And then there are those families who have to limp forward with a piece always missing.
At the event, Beth and Curt had a place up at their house where you could grab a card and write the name of someone you were there for and hang it up--a real life reason you wanted to fight cancer. I felt sick to my stomach for a moment in that hallway, because it seemed like I could have filled that clothesline by myself. Beth. Brad. Erin. Gpa Vance. Gma Peggy. Gpa Gene.... And the list doesn't really stop there.
Toward the end of the night, Beth thanked everyone for coming and told the story of hearing a dad speak whose daughter had been given six months to live. She got on an experimental drug trial at Siteman Cancer Center and three and a half years later, she was there with him.
The money that people donate to Pedal the Cause matters. Every dollar of it goes to research at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. Research saves lives.
This year, Beth and Curt are both riding in the race and they've expanded their team as well. I'm on the team even though my butt is not meeting a bike seat (not this year anyway). I'm doing my part to raise funds, to raise awareness, and to try to eliminate the fear of cancer, eventually.
If you're reading this, and you have $5 or $10 to spare, please know that it will make a difference and consider making a donation here:
I would love nothing more than for these girls to grow up and think about cancer the way we think about polio or the measles.