One of my favorite bloggers, Stephanie Nielson of "The NieNie Dialogues" and author of "Heaven is Here" has posted about Childhood Cancer. In that same posting, she has generously endorsed my book, "Because of Katie." Thank you, Stephanie!
Stephanie (also known by her readers as NieNie) survived an airplane crash which caused burns over more
than 80% of her body. She writes a joyful, funny, sweet and real blog about her life as the mother of five children, spanning the years before and after the accident. The crash happened on the one-year anniversary of Katie's passing, so the date was very significant to me. Stephanie's journey - physical, emotional and spiritual - back from death continues to inspire me and thousands of others.
In case you didn't know, September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month (think "gold ribbon" when you see the pink one for breast cancer awareness). Many of our friends and acquaintances know about childhood cancer, and are committed to supporting research for better cures and treatments plans. They have started foundations, non-profit organizations, organized fundraisers, written articles, lobbied Congress, volunteered at camps and spoken freely about what they know - and what they wish they didn't know.
Clearly, it is neither wise nor acceptable to poison people - particularly sick people, especially growing children - in an attempt to cure them. But traditional chemotherapy and radiation are poison, and often lead to physical impairments like hearing loss, heart trouble and - if you can imagine the horror - secondary cancers. So a child who is cured in his youth may be diagnosed with a new cancer (not a relapse of the original disease, but an entirely new cancer) when he is older. After enduring the worst kind of sickness, this is cruel and unusual punishment.
We founded the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for Cancer Research when Katie was in hospice care. She wanted us to direct the funds to cure cancers like the one she had (adrenocortical carcinoma). While childhood cancer is rare, adrenocortical carcinoma is extremely uncommon among that rarity, so we expanded the purpose of her endowment beyond that one form of the disease. To date, Katie's endowment is funded with nearly $193,000, and contributed $6,963 in this past year to the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Hospital. We are grateful to our family and friends who have helped to build this fund, as well as moved and relieved to see progress in the treatment and cure of cancer in these six short years since Katie passed away. With awareness, inspiration and financial support, it will come even faster - to children and adults who suffer from the many forms of cancer, and to those who suffer from the horrific, medieval torture-chamber-variety of treatments that have been all that is available to offer them, up until now.
To see the killer of my daughter (cancer) being brought to justice (wiped out) is profoundly gratifying to me mentally, emotionally and viscerally. If you are interested in joining this effort, please follow the links in the text in this posting to find out more.
To Dr. Michael Jensen and his colleagues at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, to Carin and Jeff Towne (and everyone at the Ben Towne Foundation), to all who work tirelessly to make a better world for the sick, and for those who love them: you have my heartfelt thanks. And to Stephanie Nielson: thank you for caring about all of us who are touched by childhood cancer, and for using your blog to bless your readers!