October 8, 2010Last year, at the Light the Night Walk, we pulled Tanner in a wagon, propped up on a pillow, and covered with a blanket. She was pale and weak and tired, but determined.
Last night, as we crossed the parking lot at LP Field, John and I exchanged a meaningful glance as he took a video of our daughter, pulling that same wagon, loaded with chairs and posters, all the way to the tent. She was bright-eyed, pink cheeked and, as always, determined.
It was a beautiful night and our tent was overflowing with the love and support of the friends and family that came there to lift up our family. Jake came this year, which made the night complete. After all, the four of us all have cancer in one way or another.
We had the best time. Tanner had three good girlfriends there and they sang, danced and skipped their way through 1.75 miles of sparkling downtown Nashville. The kids had their faces painted by Titans cheerleaders, jumped in the inflatables and ooohed and ahhed at the fireworks that started right as we crossed the Shelby Street Bridge. Jake was fascinated with the lighted balloons and collected them from walkers as we went along.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. After I dropped the kids off at school that morning, I met my friend, Margaret, who had come all the way from New Jersey with her husband, Larry, to walk with us. We had coffee and shared stories, then I picked up both kids early from school and got them home and down for naps.
Then, I checked Team Tanner’s site.
I couldn’t breathe for a moment.
There had to be some mistake.
Just five hours earlier, when I had last checked the site, we had a little more than $15,000. More than I had ever dreamed and I was so grateful. At 2 pm we had $19,000… really.
I searched through the individual fund-raising pages to figure out where this much money had come from in such a short period of time. I began finding large donations from John’s coworkers at Franklin American Mortgage Company. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I called John to tell him to personally kiss all of them for me.
I checked the site again about 2 hours later… $21,000. More tears. Another call to John.
One final check before we got in the car to head to the walk… $24,132. My hands were shaking as I yelled out to John to look at the computer screen. Unbelievable. Nearly $10,000 in one day… we could probably fund a study just from the money raised by Team Tanner this year.
It is a dream of ours that no family ever have to go through this again. That no child ever have to sacrifice so much of their precious childhood to a disease so insidious that it would kill in a matter of weeks if left unchecked. A disease that hides in their little bodies for years, waiting for a weak moment so it can make it’s way back into their bloodstream. Last night went a long way towards realizing that dream. You all have helped us feel victorious when it is so easy to feel beaten down.
We are so grateful that there really are no words.
Beth, John, Tanner and Jake
P.S. The walk was such a beautiful celebration of the spirit with which children and adults fight for the right to keep living, to keep finding more and more joyous days.
But, I was reminded in one swift moment, how quickly cancer can end a celebration. I saw a friend whose son is 20 months out of treatment. She said they had been to clinic that day for his every 3-month blood check and his counts were still very low; they have never recovered from treatment. He is having a bone marrow biopsy today to determine whether the leukemia is back. Sobering and terrifying and I can’t stop thinking about them. Please pray that the leukemia leaves this little boy and his family alone so they can keep enjoying their lives.