Love is a seemingly inadequate word to describe the intensity of the feeling a parent feels for a child, but it is the emotion that drives a parent to imagine, plan, and provide for every opportunity for a son or daughter to grow into the person he or she will become. You plan and save to send your child to summer and sports camps; you plan and save to send your child to college; but few, if any, parents plan and save for a child to have cancer. A child diagnosed with cancer blindsides parents. Those must be four of the scariest words to hear from a doctor: Your child has cancer.
I am a proud single parent of a fifteen year old son – Christopher. Christopher means the world to me and I am so grateful for his good health. As a parent, my heart weeps for those parents who are not as fortunate. My dad is a cancer survivor and I know firsthand the emotional toll cancer places on loved ones. The realities of day to day life become secondary to the reality of pouring all your time and resources into helping the family member get better. I can only imagine, as a parent, how much that stress is amplified when a child is diagnosed with this devastating disease.
You don’t have to be a super hero or even play one on TV to help a family who is tackling childhood cancer. The little things mean a lot. Ask how the child is doing; ask how the parent is doing; ask to bring them dinner; or give to organizations who provide support and assistance to cancer patients and their families.
Coach Coughlin’s nonprofit, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, offers financial relief to families when a child is diagnosed with cancer. They pay the bills that have been stuffed into a brown paper bag or big envelope because a family had to make a choice between staying home to take care of a sick child and missing a day of work without pay.
Coach Coughlin, along with his team of volunteers and advocates, truly care about the welfare and future of these families. Yes, I wrote future. These kids may have to put their dreams on hold, but when they are ready to go to college, Coach Coughlin is there awarding scholarships to cancer survivors. Regardless if the path is one of rejoicing and gratitude or one of sorrowing and grieving, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund is by the family’s side.
As we recognize National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and salute those families who are in the trenches, fighting to help their child get well, I hope you will join Coach Coughlin and take his pledge to BE THERE for families who are facing the unthinkable.