Our current t-shirts, copping some attitude.
My niece Karen has cancer. So does her son Alex (a different kind). Last year, on her birthday, she received devastating news -- Alex had grown more eye tumors and was in danger of losing his sight. Some birthday present for a loving mother locked in a battle of her own.
This year --hey, she made it to another birthday!-- the news about Alex is great. Eye tumors gone, retina intact, go back to life as a normal kid.
The news about Karen is ... Not. Good. She's in the hospital on heavy duty antibiotics and ... damn. Blood transfusions. No matter how hard she fights, no matter all the cutting edge treatments, organic foods and positive attitudes, the cancer keeps trying to win.
No! We won't let it. Not now. She's not going to struggle up that hill one step alone, carrying the weight of the world on her once strong shoulders, growing weaker by the day. We're determined to lighten her burden as best we can.
So she woke up in the hospital yesterday to find a card from the kitchen staff on her breakfast tray wishing her a happy and healthy birthday. The nurses hung balloons a Happy Birthday banner in her room. They even put a big Happy Birthday sticker over the IV bags sending life-saving blood transfusions through her body.
Then in the afternoon a friend who has a sweet, gentle "therapy dog" brought him to stay with Karen and to give her the comfort of a cold nose and a warm heart.
This birthday I told her, we're changing our mantra. No more One Day At A Time. Now it's going to be Every Day Is Your Birthday. Each new day is a new beginning.
No, I added, she won't be getting presents every day. Life is the best gift of all. And we'll take as much of it as we can get.
We've started a charitable trust (tax deductible) for the family. I'll be creating a Facebook page with more info. Two family members with cancer. Talk about medical bills.
Karen has a golden voice, she used to sing with a popular band. Next week on Tuesday, May 25, the Atlantic City casino (Taj Mahal) where Karen's husband Bob works, is throwing a fundraiser for the family.
Here's the new T-shirt I designed for the fundraiser, and for her.
These days every cancer has a ribbon. Melanoma's ribbon is black. Because. Ew. The word melanoma means black tumor. We're gonna stick with black humor instead.
If you have someone in your life battling disease, my heart goes out to you. If you don't, I hope you never have to join our special club. Be vigilant. Get all regular check-ups, all over your body. Make sure your family does the same.
You think it only happens to other people, not you. But it can. Trust me, I know.
Many of my friends know Karen and Alex through the posts I've writen about them. Your kindness has meant the world to us. Here are their stories.
Karen and Bob Then
Karen and Bob Now
Oh yeah, it's all too real. Still, those smiles...