Our children are our most precious resource. It isn’t fair when a child is diagnosed with cancer, but it is a reality that many parents are confronted with every day. Cancer doesn’t follow orders. It doesn’t distinguish by rank or status in life. Cancer reminds us that we are not invincible, and as parents, it reminds us that some things are truly out of our hands.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month – an opportunity to build awareness and provide support for those who are facing the unthinkable. As you see the child with the bald head or the chemo port scars, remember those are badges of courage and strength; and when you see the weary-eyed or tear-stained parent’s face, know that those, too, are badges of honor and love. During those knowing moments, ask yourself, “How can I help?”
Throughout my career in the military, I know that support from friends and organizations who care, truly made a difference, not just for the spouse and the child, but for the service member. To know that someone was helping with the day to day or providing a moment of fun for the children, offered peace of mind. The same can be said when a child is battling cancer. Knowing that you are not alone in the fight can make all the difference
My good friend, Coach Coughlin has asked us to take his pledge to #BETHERE for families tackling cancer. I am taking that pledge and I ask that each of you consider taking it as well. It is essential to have a support group – people to cheer you on; people to listen to you; people to lean on – when a child is being treated for cancer. Be one of those people and join the team.
There are so many ways and opportunities to help patients and families. Consider giving to the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. Cancer is expensive – and not just the treatments and medications. When every dollar counts, unforeseen expenses like hospital meals for parents staying with the child and extra gas to make the long drives to and from treatments can put a real dent in a budget. The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund offers you an opportunity to be an MVP and help with those costs.
Or treat yourself and a friend and attend or participate in an event that benefits organizations who are advocates for families tackling childhood cancer – whether it be a fundraising walk or attending a concert or sporting event, spend your dollars where it will help others.
And last, but certainly not least, offer an ear to listen and words of encouragement to the parents and patients. When I played college football, one of the things I learned in that huddle is perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Be a force multiplier and #BETHERE.