Archive for June, 2012
I have this most wonderful, inspiring, wise, strong, witty, brave, glowing light of a friend who has been battling Stage 4 breast cancer for the past two years. Throughout her journey with this awful disease, she constantly uplifts all who are trying to be there to support her–she’s just that awesome–with her courage, her sense of humor, and her writing.
Last week, she shared with her friends this reflection on her battle with cancer. As always happens when I read her writing, I laughed a little and cried a lot and wished I could express myself in the same poignant, wise ways. I also came away with the sense that her thoughts should really be shared with as many people as possible. So, for the Mamas, sisters, girl friends, husbands, Dads, kids, and whoever else would read this and be inspired, Fran agreed that I could share her experiences with you. It is an honor for me to do so:
Cancer is such an odd companion. While I hate my disease, I have grown to embrace the journey. My friends and family are a constant in my life. Their support, help and love keep my feet moving forward one step at a time. It is the occasional stranger that gives me pause to reflect on the true goodness in our lives. Allow me to tell you about one of my strangers.
Dana Stellar is a former Northwestern Lehigh student that went on to graduate from Lehigh University in 2010. In addition to her many accomplishments, Dana was a cross country team member for Northwestern and Lehigh University. Her Mom and biggest fan (sorry Dad) was Debbie Stellar. Debbie Stellar was a tireless volunteer for her children’s athletic teams and a lifetime member of the Seaside Park Yacht Club. Tragically, Debbie lost her courageous four year battle to ovarian cancer in March, 2010.
To honor her mother, Dana organized the Steps4Stellar 5K Walk/Run. The Walk was held at Cedar Beach in Allentown, PA to help raise funds for families who are battling cancer. A scholarship fund was established in Debbie’s name. The fund was designed to help student athletes whose family suffers from cancer by fulfilling their dream of a college education.
Two weeks ago, I received an email that my three little athletes were selected to receive one of the scholarships. Through our local youth organization, Northwestern Youth Athletic Association (NYAA), my children have played a variety of sports. Hayden plays football, basketball, lacrosse and baseball. Tess plays field hockey, basketball and softball. Wyatt plays basketball and baseball.
Last Sunday at a NYAA football game, in the pouring rain, Dana, a friend, and her father waited patiently for me to complete my volunteer duties and walk off the field. We were meeting, in person, for the first time. As our eyes meet, we connected and realized…. I reminded her of her mother – volunteering for her children’s athletic team. Dana was my hope for the future – what I want my children to be. Our tears were stopped and replaced by laughter with the appearance of a 5 foot, 10 year old, covered in mud (somewhere hidden under there was Hayden) eating a cupcake. Then, she presented me with the scholarship funds for my kids. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.
According to family and friends, Debbie Stellar considered her job of being “Mom” as the most rewarding. Sharing her battle, I understand the focus on hopes, dreams and the future, especially for our children. It is best summed up by this quote:
She has achieved success who has lived well; laughed often and loved much;… who has filled her niche and accomplished her task; … who has always looked for the best in others and given the best she had; whose life was an inspiration.
Debbie Stellar was an inspiration. We only have to look as far as Dana to realize she accomplished great things in her lifetime.
October ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness. Fran Ledeboer was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer on June 4, 2010. Nearly half the women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in June, 2010 are now dead (SEER database). Cancer is an insidious disease; crafty, adaptable and uncaring. If you love a woman, please remind her that prevention is our best weapon. Please get a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or clinical breast exam, if not for yourself, for the ones that you love. Remind all women in your life to do the same. Adversity breeds resilience and hope. Hope does matter.
I would love for everyone to listen to the attached poem, written and read by ‘apoetaswell.’ “That Moment” is a poem about becoming a hero to someone in need–the exact moment stressed but the anti-bullying organization, Sweethearts & Heroes. According to Sweethearts and Heroes founders Tom Murphy and Jason Spector, peers only intervene in bullying situations 10% of the time, but when a peer (or what they call a Hero) intervenes within 10-seconds (That Moment), they are successful 60% of the time.
My favorite line:
HOPE: Hold On, Possibilities Exist
Click on the link below to listen:
In fun professional news, I was asked to join Sears’ brand new campaign–the first major anti-bullying portal site designed to connect children, students, families, educators and communities with hundreds of bullying solutions.
Please visit sears.com/teamup to take the Power Pledge and show your support for Team Up to Stop Bullying. The full web site will have hundreds of bullying solutions and will officially launch the first week of August.
Not long ago, my daughter, her best friend and I had a full day’s worth of activity and adventure, enjoying carnival games at a local festival, eating bags of salty popcorn, running through icy cold fountains when the day’s heat became too intense and following it all up with a late afternoon movie. It was Girl Time at its best!
Which is why I was totally blown away when, after dropping off her friend, my daughter’s answer to my innocent inquiry of, “So, what should we do for dinner?” was met with a raging, “Nothing! Can we just go home already? I think we’ve bonded enough for one day.”
“Was that a car that just rear-ended me?” I thought momentarily. “Can words cause whiplash?” I wondered. My white knuckles clutched the steering wheel with primitive force and I’m pretty sure the woman in the lane next to me witnessed steam coming out of my ears.
“Seriously?” I started out calmly. Unfortunately, I only began that way. Quick as a flash, angry words of hurt and indignation rang forth from my mouth. I promised to never take my daughter anywhere… ever… again. I threatened to cancel our “bonding plans” for next weekend’s end-of-school-year trip. I lied and told her that I had had a miserable day, too. In short, I mirrored the emotions my daughter had just unleashed on me and fueled the out-of-the-blue conflict with ten additional gallons of gasoline. When my rant was over, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and I knew I had blown it.
For the rest of this not-so-Mom-of-the-Year-moment–including my thoughts on how I would approach this situation if I could have a Do-Over–please check out my full article in the HuffingtonPost:
Please also check out the tab on LSCI Skills for Parents training, for more information on de-escalating conflicts with kids and improving parent-child relationships.
Enter to win a free, signed copy of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope With Bullying. Click here or on the link below to visit Mom Does Reviews for drawing rules and your chance to win. While you’re there, check out all of the nice things this reviewer had to say about my book 🙂
If you are interested in receiving a review copy of Friendship & Other Weapons or How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, please email me at Signe@signewhitson.com