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The Power of Mothers

May 6, 2010

 

We should never forget mothers who keep going to preserve the memory of their children, to help their own as well as others persevere from sickness hopefully into good  health. Their gratefulness for the lives of their children and determination, as Miles Levin once wrote, to “keep struggling and keep fighting,” are inspirations to many of us, often too consumed with our daily lives to notice.

 

April 27, 2010 was the first official day of the Power of Noah Foundation, named after Noah Biorkman, who died last November at the age of 5 from a childhood cancer, neuroblastoma. As a way to remember Noah and to help other children from suffering from this horrific type of cancer, Noah’s Neuroblastoma Research Fund was started at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

            Because of the 1,175,000 Christmas cards that were sent to Noah last November and the donations that many included in their cards, Noah’s mother, Diana, gave a check for $75,000 to begin the foundation. After the dedication ceremony at the hospital, “Noah Day” was celebrated at Leo’s Coney Island and more money was raised to go to the research fund.

            UofM has a rule with endowment funds that states that a fund must reach $100,000 before the doctors can begin to use the money for research. To help raise another $25,000 to get the fund helping to find cures for neuroblastoma, Diana sent out a CALL TO ACTION to her friends, family, and Carepages readers. She wrote, “With your help, Noah received 1.175 million Christmas cards in 25 days! Now, let’s see how much money we can raise in 25 days! Attached is the link for the online donation site for UofM or you can money or checks made payable to either the Power of Noah Foundation or Noah’s Neuroblastoma Research Fund, sent to 1141 Fountain View Circle, South Lyon, MI 48178, or go to http://www.giving.umich.edu/give/mott-noah.”

            You might wonder what gives a mother the power to keep going after losing her only child after 2 ½ years of fighting cancer with chemo and courage. But as Diana wrote on March 22nd, “A couple of weeks ago, I cried for two and a half days. Yes, you read it right. I did. Then, I was back to my normal self. I’m not quite sure what caused the meltdown, but I’m glad it’s over. For me, crying is annoying and just causes my nose to run, head to be stuffed up, and puffy eyes. I would much rather do something productive with my time than sit around and boohoo. I’m not saying that boohooing isn’t necessary or a good way to relieve stress for other people. Just not me.

            “So, here I am,” she wrote, “boohooing for days, missing Noah, feeling sorry for myself, and all that. Then Zach and Bethany both pass away from this horrible cancer—neuroblastoma. Instantly, I was reminded of the lessons that Noah had taught me. Got off my sorry butt and do something. So, I called my staff and we got our butts in gear. We have been working on things for awhile now, just not with any urgency. That has now changed.”

            Noah’s favorite phrase was “and you know what?” and so the Power of Noah Foundation’s website is fittingly named www.andyouknowwhat.org which is the link to raise money for the Neuroblastoma Fund. The heading reads, “The power of Noah lives in all of us…Pass it on…”

            Even though Diana went back to work at Pella Window and Door and has been busy fundraising for Noah’s fund, she has not forgotten other children suffering from other forms of cancer. She sent out a message to her readers to visit www.teamkendal.com and see Kendal’s story. So for us mothers and fathers with healthy children, we learn once again what too many parents face, the scourge of cancer in their children. Here is Kendal’s story told by her mother on her website:

            “12 years ago almost to this very day, Kendal was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).  After 26 months of treatment she was able to enjoy the next 10 years cancer free, focusing on all the major priorities in life ( you know friends, texting, facebook, boys, what to wear!)  Now at age 16 our beautiful Kendal is facing a new fight. What once appeared to be a relapse has turned out to be a new diagnosis of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). This battle will be a little tougher than before.  Kendal will first have to be put in a state of remission, which is a more difficult process with AML, then she will require a bone marrow transplant.  We are very fortunate that her brother is an almost perfect match.  We thank God for this blessing and Jake is very excited to be able to give his sister the greatest gift of all!  From our friends and family we ask for your continued prayers.  Kendal would also like to encourage you to donate blood to your local red cross and become a member of the bone marrow registry. It is through these marrow matches that children are able to beat this cancer….Kendal is a BEAUTIFUL, STRONG and AMAZING  girl whose determination is greater than anything I've seen.  Not long after receiving this very devastating news Kendal was posting this message on her Facebook, ‘I do not know why I have been dealt these cards but I am capable of anything and I will beat this.’ This we know is true and we BELIEVE….Kendal, we love you more than words can say and we BELIEVE! Love, Mom and Dad”

            On this week before Mother’s Day, I have more gratitude than ever for mothers,  like my wife, Judy, who has nurtured Kyle, Ilana, and Marlee to grow up healthy and confident while letting them know she’s there for them whenever they need her, all this while faithfully saying Kaddish every day for her father. I am so thankful for my mother-in-law, Carole, and my mother, Rochelle, knowing how much they devoted and still devote to their children and grandchildren, and for my sister, Leslie, as she raises Karenna.

            We should never forget mothers who keep going to preserve the memory of their children, to help their own as well as others persevere from sickness hopefully into health. Their gratefulness for the lives of their children and determination, as Miles Levin once wrote, to “keep struggling and keep fighting,” are inspirations to many of us, often too consumed with our daily lives to notice.

            Each and every Mother’s Day for Noah and Kendal’s moms are times to be thankful for what they had and still have. Each and every day, they fight to preserve memory and meaning and grapple with their children’s bouts with cancer. That Noah is no longer here does not stop Diana from helping others, including Kendal, the teenager whose determination to beat cancer keeps her parents believing in the miracles of faith.

            Like Diana and Kendal with her parents, we just need to believe.

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