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Rollercoaster Ride — Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

A guest post from Alyssa’s Dad in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month…

“Eight years ago yesterday, I watched my precious 10-year-old Alyssa Grace look at her mom and me as her doctor told us that she had multiple inoperable tumors in her lungs. Six weeks earlier her lung scans had shown no evidence of those tumors and we were preparing for life with a prosthetic leg—one that she could run on! Now she was asking us if she could write a will—that she wanted her 7-year-old sister, Lexie, to have all of her stuff; and she was insisting on being the one to tell her the bad news. A year-and-a-half of treatment had come to this…

“A diagnosis of cancer in a child sets off a rickety rollercoaster ride of hope, fear, and all too often despair–not just for that child, but for that child’s siblings and parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends, teachers, treatment teams, and the communities that they are connected to. Each round of chemo, every surgery, each emergency room visit, and every single scan becomes a sudden rise, turn, dip, twist or plunge on this makeshift coaster. And it is not an amusing ride.

“Nevertheless, there were many moments of joy and laughter and relief along the way; and hope didn’t die, it just seemed further away...

“People from our communities reached out to us in so many ways: they raised funds to help us with our medical and travel expenses, they sent us cards; bought groceries for us and treated us to restaurants; sent us on fun trips, and even provided us with free housing while we sought treatment for Alyssa far from home. I don’t know what we would have done or how much worse we would have felt if we hadn’t had so many people from our county of Fluvanna and from all around the world holding us up. At one point after spending some time at school where so many of her schoolmates and teachers and staff wore blue, Alyssa said: “I didn’t know so many people cared.”

“And that is where you come in: YOU can smooth out a family’s rollercoaster ride! You can help bring joy, laughter, and relief to these families:

— Throw your financial support behind cancer research- sarcomas, in particular, are treatment resistant and need to be much better understood so our children have a greater chance to live a long, symptom free life. Challenge your legislators to direct more funds towards understanding and treating childhood cancers.

— Closer to home and you can put a smile on a child’s face when he gets a toy by supporting Mason's Toy Box or you can relieve a family’s financial burden by helping The Alyssa House provide them with free housing through your monetary donations or, once we move past the Covid-19 crisis, by volunteering your time to raise funds or to help us keep the house clean and in good working order. Gift cards for groceries, coffee, supplies, or services are an inexpensive and surefire way to lighten the burden for our families. And keep an eye out for The Alyssa House wish list requests...!

“Alyssa’s rollercoaster ride ended Dec. 31, 2012. But as scary as that ride was most of the time, she knew that she was loved and that people cared because they showed her that they did.”

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