When my son Ryan was in Kindergarten, since it was all new to me, I made sure to meet the other parents. One mom stuck out at me, as she was pregnant too (I was 8 months pregnant with Owen), so I thought we could commiserate about having a kindergartener and a baby. So Audrey and I were friendly, as the years went on. I would see them at school events and such. One day I heard her little girl, the very same one she was pregnant with while I was pregnant with Owen, had cancer.
At a school event, I heard another child ask her how come her little girl didn’t have any hair. Audrey ( a teacher besides an amazing mom), responded “oh, she has cancer, and the medicine makes her hair fall out. But she’s ok and her hair will all grow back.” I told Audrey how much I admired her candor, and she told me that she’d rather they ask and know the answer than whisper or be afraid.
I just can’t imagine the fear and heartbreak that goes along with that. Audrey and her husband, Joe are amazing people, and we consider ourselves lucky to call them friends.
Ella’s treatment plan involved 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of proton beam radiation. The proton radiation was administered at Boston’s Mass General, and is where the inspiration for Ella’s Retreat began.
Ella’s Retreat is a non-profit organization in the Philadelphia area, that helps provide lodging and logistical support to families receiving proton radiation therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The goal, is to reduce the stresses on the parents, so that they can focus on fighting the disease.
These days, that adorable Ella is a happy, healthy outgoing kindergartener, in school with my Owen. You can read Audrey’s account of treatment here.
Ella with her big sister at our Memorial Day Parade party
Also, if you’re local, I hope you will consider joining Ella’s Retreat for a Night Out For Hope, on November 3rd.