Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Cancer: a word no parent wants to hear

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

It’s easy to believe the project we are working on, the deadline we are under, or the new business we seek is the most important thing in the world. It takes someone like Laura Gnewuch to remind us the true value of the human spirit. She gives her time and effort to Epsilon Sigma Alpha in support of St. Jude Children’s Hospital and in December she will run a 1/2 Marathon to raise money for the hospital. Here is her story – I hope you will support her

Someone – or something – bumps me from behind. I’m trying to listen while activity swirls around me. Bump, I feel it again. I turn to look – nothing. Finally, a tug on my leg and I look down. “Hello,” she says beaming. “Hello to you,” I say. There looking up at me is a little girl about six, the age of my son. She has blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile. She’s pulling a wagon. “What’s your name sweetie?” I ask. “Helen,” she answers before giggling and turning to be with her friends.

Our encounter could be at a park or a bowling alley or a birthday party, but it’s not. We aren’t at a place you or I would consider “fun”. You see, Helen has no hair – and Helen is very sick. In fact, Helen is battling for her life. But watching her run off to be with her St. Jude buddies you would never know it.

This special place is St. Jude Children’s Hospital. My attention returns to our tour. Our doctor recites statistics from 1962 when the survival rate for childhood cancer was horrifying: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – 4%, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – 7%, Neuroblastoma – 10%. Today, he reports, miracles happen and the survival rate for these diseases has skyrocketed to 94%, 85%, and 55%.

Although researchers at St. Jude Children’s Hospital have made great strides battling against cancer, there will always be a need for funding until we have a cure.

Advances don’t happen by accident. They come from thousands of researchers worldwide searching for cures. Thankfully, it’s 2009 and doctors at St. Jude Children’s Hospital are some of the best. Through my sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, I know the fight personally. In 2008 my North Carolina Sisters and I raised over $300,000 for St. Jude. Nationwide ESA contributed 11 million dollars. I’m proud to say ESA is St. Jude’s largest private fundraising group in the United States.

Cancer is a word no parent wants to hear. What good are statistics if you can’t pay for the cure? What if you can’t afford to travel for the treatment? Where will you stay while you’re there? Our donations answer these questions. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.

Think about that, “No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.”

That’s where I come in. In December I’m taking time out of my life to travel to Memphis, Tennessee, the home of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Along with 100 of my ESA Sisters I’ll participate in the Memphis Half-Marathon benefiting the hospital. Twice I’ve walked this course and last year I ran and I’m running again. Maybe not 100%, but if the children can fight cancer valiantly, I can put one leg in front of the other and run.

These are challenging times for all of us, but living with cancer is one challenge that no child should have to face. By supporting my run, you support St. Jude Children’s Hospital – and helping these boys and girls to grow up to be men and women. On behalf of these families, please make a donation, no matter how big or small, so that we can give more than just hope… we can give a child another birthday.

You can support Laura’s run for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, visit her donation page.