In September 2011, I received the awful news that my closest girlfriend’s son, who was also my son’s best friend, was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer. I had been a part of the cancer world before: my mother was diagnosed in the 1980s with Hodgkins and underwent chemotherapy in my early teens, and was again diagnosed in October 2010 with cancer, this time terminal — losing her life in January 2011, but this was a child, it was devastating news.
Cancer was also a topic that was very much in the public eye when I was growing up in Canada, with Terry Fox attempting to run across Canada after they amputated his leg (he was days away from running through my hometown when he had to stop due to fatigue, which later turned out to be a metastasis to the lungs). This cross-Canada feat that was attempted later by two other cancer survivors: Steve Fonyo (on foot) and Rick Hansen (by wheelchair), both passing through my home town in the 80s. Into the 1990s things were close to home again, friends and parents of friends also fought and beat or fough & succumbed to cancer — I still remember the packed full hall at the funeral for my friend Nikki Redekopp, who passed away before she could even finish her Bachelors.
So in 2011 when I was dropped into the Cancer world again, this time as a friend rather than a family-member or witness, I followed the journey quite closely. I supported my friend in a way I thought would be helpful and even signed on to the English Speaking Cancer Association’s Fundraiser the Paddle for Cancer and rowed for the Goldragons team in September 2013. That day, I paddled for my Mom, my friends, myself. It was a sunny, happy day, all of us exhausted after 3 heats and glad to have missed the final by a few tenths of a second.
In the past two years since that diagnosis, I’ve been lucky enough, and I do mean lucky, to hear and follow the stories of other families, other parents expatriate and Swiss, who are living “momcology” who are living IN the Cancer world. I’ve been lucky to be able to support them as a friend or friend-of-a-friend. Today, I want to do more. Today I heard that one of those little girls I have been following for the past few years has received bad news. There is no more treatment available to little Zoe, Zoe who has so much energy and charisma your heart just breaks thinking that she might not — and now will not — survive. Little Zoe who was diagnosed on her birthday, when she was only a few hours old, that she had cancer and has been living in an out of hospitals for her ENTIRE life.
Her 4th birthday is only a few weeks away, but we now know she probably won’t make it to five. The latest treatment hasn’t worked and because of this, additional treatments aren’t possible. It’s now time for Zoe to “Make a Wish”, to think of something she wants to do before she says goodbye.
So Zoe is hopefully going to Florida to meet Winter the dolphin with a prosthetic tail, and I’d like to help get her and her family there. So this week for every membership application that comes in 30% of the fee will go to Zoe 4 Life or to the Make a Wish Foundation of Switzerland in her name.
So today, fill in your membership form and pay your fees and you support not only expatparent and the families we help, but also Zoe and other little children & their families who are fighting against the thousands of cancers out there, the cancers that unfortunately September (the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month) reminded us, affects so many.