Sunday, December 11, 2016

Look who woke up a 12-year-old on December 3! It feels so "normal", but is surreal, too. Twelve
 years ago, Vic and I went in for a scheduled inducement (Abbey had come really fast, almost having her in the car if she hadn't been so monstrously big and got stuck, so the doc wanted to be in more control). We picked this day so that the baby's birthday numbers would be 12-3-04. We didn't find out the gender of any of our kids, and after two girls, we assumed we were brought together to supply the world with girls. The shock in Vic's voice in the video when the doctor lifts up a huge, round, hairy baby boy with enough umbilical cord to anchor a boat says it all. We had completed our family (we thought), just moved into our custom-built, brand new house two months earlier, had our big SUV, grandmother and aunt were down the road, so we were ready to live out a "normal", middle-class family life. A
short seven years later this same month, Eli's birthday month, we were back in a hospital with him facing the life-changing news that a disease that is the number one killer of children had saturated his brain. That was five years ago. A person is considered a "survivor" of cancer if he or she lives five years after diagnosis. That guideline assumes that anyone that has lived five years is clear of that cancer. Eli has lived with active cancer for five years - is he a survivor? Of anybody, yes he is! So, we celebrate this little guy today, and every day. Eli wants to invite his friends to see Star Wars with him when it opens, which is before he leaves for Augusta for his next MRI. But today, his actual birthday we wanted to do something just us, and instead of me trying to orchestrate something that I thought would be

appropriate, or something that would make great pictures, or something memorable for us, I simply asked him to think of the one thing he likes to do most (I already knew the answer, unlike the OJ Simpson trial prosecutors in the "glove" fiasco), and as expected he said "Go to Toys R Us." There is rarely a time when we leave the house on a trip, on an outing, or just a run over to Huntsville that he doesn't ask if we can go in Toys R Us. Which if we go, he only looks in three places: the Lego section, the Transformer section, and the Cars section... we might venture over to video games. It's not a shopping "spree" today, because, well, it just can't and shouldn't be for a couple of reasons, but instead of getting him a gift, we will let him shop and pick it out, which the going is part of the fun for him, too. The other kids like to get out, too. We hope to spend the day at TRU, shopping for our Christmas kids that they each "adopted," maybe picking out a Christmas tree at Lowe's (that's our usual place. We get a live one just because we don't have storage for a fake one, but would love a pre-lit fake one if we had a place to keep it) and cleaning up from the parade Thursday. Yes, the parade!! We won!! Our non-profit org, which is now called Eli's Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation, entered a float in our city's Christmas parade, and we won first prize, which I believe is
$1000! I knew we had a winning idea, and I knew that we had the right people working on building it, but the question was the judging. With it being our first time (and actually, we still don't know because we weren't given an explanation of
why we won, so we won't know if we do it again either), we didnt really know the criteria for success, so the only way to solve that problem was doing the best we could, because that was all we could do anyway. We sold t-shirts to help pay for the expenses, so that we wouldn't take from our coffers, and just dedicated almost every minute to it the week leading up to the parade. And, we won! So, the city of Athens was made a little more "Aware" of childhood cancer on Thursday. That is part of our mission as a non-profit, to raise awareness, and to give back to our
community. And helping our city put on a quality parade, an event that families can come out to, make a tradition during the holidays, definitely fits that mission. I don't know if our "project managers" will want to do it again or not, too early to tell. It's kind of like talking about having another baby while you are still in recovery at Labor and Delivery. Amnesia of the stress of it needs time to set in before that decision is made. But, it was a lot of fun, great people involved, a positive experience all the way around. I am so thankful for the friends that we are surrounded with that join in our cause, because there are many, many, too many worthy causes in this evil world to choose from to advocate, so I sincerely appreciate their interest in taking up this cause. I'll post birthday pics of TRU, ha! It's not Disney, but it might as well be to him.

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