I was silent here for the month of September. I didn’t start off the month with that goal in mind. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and my former nephew, Ethan, is halfway through his treatment for Leukemia. His mom, my former sister-in-law, Emily, set challenges for herself and others during September to raise awareness about childhood cancer. She fittingly dubbed the month Childhood Cancer ACTION Month. She rallied folks to write about cancer, go gold for kids with cancer, shave their heads in support, and asked everyone to donate 600 pennies on behalf of Ethan to childhood cancer research. At the beginning of September, when Emily began her rallying efforts, I told her I would write about it. I set out to create a recipe for Ethan and educate myself further about childhood cancer.
I donated blood for the first time in my life last year when Ethan was diagnosed. I am now a donor member at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Currently I’m working to raise my iron levels so that I can donate platelets and whole blood on a more regular basis. I donated at the beginning of September, but then had to take a break due to a lowered iron count. Eat your greens, people! And red meat! Then go give some blood to kids with cancer.
Every time I sat down to write about Ethan and cancer I was flooded with emotion. I couldn’t get any words to transfer from brain to computer. Nothing else seemed as important as writing about cancer and helping bring awareness and funding to these precious children. So I just sat on it. Today, I saw Ethan, and his sister Elyse, for the first time in almost four years. Do you know how much growing a kid can do in four years?! They’re so big!
One of the last times I saw Ethan was just after my husband died. This 3-year-old boy with striking blue eyes said that he would marry me so I wouldn’t have to be alone. Those blue eyes are as bright as ever, and his little sister has them, too. The boy I saw today is the same sweet boy I used to babysit when we lived closer. He’s the first kid I ever put on time out (I walked around the corner and cried because I felt bad). The same Lego-loving kid. I still have two Lego men (an Indiana jones and an alien guy) that Ethan gave to me and JonJon five years ago. Ethan is the same kid. He’s bigger now, and stronger, and he’s fighting leukemia. He’s doing a great job. No one would guess that the boy I saw today spends much of his time in a hospital bed, or that just about a year ago he was bald because of the chemo. He’s a fighter. And he isn’t the only one. Ethan is just one of 175,000 kids diagnosed with cancer each year. These kids need our help, support, and love. Cancer sucks. Let’s help squash it out of existence. Visit your local children’s hospital to donate blood products that will be used for kids undergoing treatment. Check out St. Baldrick’s to make a monetary donation. It’s a sad fact that only 2% of funds raised for cancer research is allotted to childhood cancer. Emily wrote about awareness and funding last year. Even worse is the rising numbers of children being diagnosed daily. So make a direct contribution. Make sure your time, blood, and money are working for our kids.
So why Monster Fondue? This fondue used to be a Halloween tradition. The last time I had it was the last Halloween I spent with my husband, and with Ethan. I made it again when I knew Ethan would be coming to my home for lunch. He didn’t recall the memory I shared, but he was only 3 at the time, and has so many more memories made since then. We sat on my living room floor in Seattle, Washington and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas while consuming copious amounts of drippy cheese, vegetables and bread. I really don’t know why fondue isn’t more popular. It’s so fun! Also, I thought starting off the Halloween season with an Ethan story would be fitting since I just couldn’t bring myself to post until I acknowledged childhood cancer and helped bring some awareness and support for the cause.