Did you know that kids get cancer? In fact, every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer. This statistic is more than just a number. This statistic represents children who are living, breathing, and fighting for their lives.
A few years ago, a four-year-old child in our neighborhood was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. I began following their story on Facebook and watched as this family went through the unimaginable. I couldn’t begin to fathom the pain, agony, and fear they were dealing with while still trying to balance everyday life as a family with three children.
Cindi Bonner lived across the street from this family. She offered to set up a website and Facebook page for them, to keep family and friends updated. Cindi researched childhood cancer, and what she learned ignited a flame in her. She knew she needed to do more to help other children in our community battling cancer. I have known Cindi my entire life. She has always been a role model of mine- from the ripe old age of about 10. If you know Cindi, then you know she is the type of person who sees a problem and takes action!
Cindi saw the good, the bad, and the ugly through this little girl’s fight against cancer. She learned that not only do kids get cancer, but the medicines they are given to potentially save their lives are outdated, many by more than 40 years. Since kids get different types of cancer than adults, they need different types of treatments for their fragile and growing bodies.
Cindi wanted MORE for our local kids and families. Through her research and building relationships with other childhood cancer families, she was introduced to an organization that was doing just that -more-, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research (Rally).
Rally’s mission is to empower volunteers across the country to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research to find better treatments with fewer long-term side effects and, ultimately, cures.
Cindi knew that she could bring the work that Rally was already doing in other communities to Pensacola because she knew our incredible community would also want to help! With this knowledge and the support of Rally, she started Rally Pensacola. Soon thereafter, she asked me the question Rally asks every day “What can you do to help?”
My son, Jack, was three at the time, and I was pregnant with my daughter, Sabel. I wanted to jump in and help, but to be honest, I was scared. The whole idea just made me uneasy as a new mom. However, as I was putting Jack to bed one night, I thought, “I am blessed to have a healthy child today, but what if all that changed tomorrow?”
My mind shifted, and I realized that tomorrow could happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. I knew then, I needed to be a voice for these children and their families by advocating for safer treatments, and ultimately, cures.
These kids and their families deserve more. They deserve the best treatment options we can make available, and most importantly they deserve to LIVE without long-term side effects.
Thus began my mission to help Rally Pensacola by supporting children and families that are just like ours. They were living very normal lives until one day they received the words no parent ever wants to hear. “Your child has cancer.” On that day, their lives shift quickly and are forever changed. They will travel down a road, unlike any other.
I have never met people who can embrace life so deeply in the midst of so much fear. A cancer diagnosis impacts every member of the family, including siblings. Rally cares for all of them throughout the entire journey and thereafter.
Rally Kids are incredibly strong and brave. Regardless of what is going on in the world, childhood cancer doesn’t take a break. Rally Kids NEVER stop fighting! They endure harsh medicines, doctors, needles, sickness, hair loss, mouth sores, surgeries, ports, and pain, often times ALL IN THE SAME DAY!
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I encourage you to learn more about the #1 disease killer of kids in our country and what Rally Pensacola is doing right here in our community.
I invite you to join me in the fight to help find a cure and save the lives of our next generation.
What can you do to help?