Recently, I received some news that made me do some verbal vomiting. My daughter’s teacher from last year had sent a bunch of parents an e-mail that made me sit in stunned disbelief. It turns out that a classmate of my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the end of the school year. My daughter is 10. Her friend, Matthew, is 10. Yes, 10-year old Matthew has leukemia. Excuse me a minute… I need to go rip some papers... hit a wall.... kick a rock.... yell.... swear….
…. I’m back.... I’m breathing. I’m not really feeling any better. You’d think that as I age, I’d get more cynical and tough….that less and less would affect me as after all; I’ve “been there, done that”.. I’ve “seen it all”. Surprisingly, I am more easily affected now than ever before by news of suffering, injustice and affliction. Maybe it was my 3-year stint working at a charitable organization, coming face to face with pictures and stories of real people dying daily of treatable diseases, that has softened my heart and mind. Maybe it’s being on the receiving end, too often, of prejudiced eyes that have heightened my senses towards discrimination.
Cancer does not discriminate. Some days, I wish it did. I wished it would strike the pedophiles of the world…or the mass murderers ….instead of a young child, still in elementary school. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset because Matthew is my daughter’s best friend. They are not best friends. They are simply classmates. Regardless, there is something about a 10-year old undergoing aggressive chemotherapy that does not sit well with me.
Marcus Aurelius said “Everyman’s life lies within the present, for the past is spent and done with and the future is uncertain.” I do not know what the future holds for Matthew but this I know. This coming weekend, my family will be doing something we’ve never done before. We are going to take a 5km walk on an autumn night in my beloved Montreal together with thousands across the country to bring help and hope to people battling blood cancers.
We will walk and raise funds to provide life saving blood cancer research. We will walk with others, carrying illuminated balloons - white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancer. We will carry red balloons for Matthew. We will join our school team of walkers for Matthew, wishing him well, willing him to recover, and sending him all the prayers and hope one can send.
I know my children and I cannot change the whole world. That does not mean that we cannot at least; make a difference to the world immediately around us. And we will make a difference by actually doing something and doing it with faith for “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
PS – hope to see you back in school after Christmas, Matthew. Your friend, Kiki is honoured to be walking for you.
Matthew's page on Light the Night