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Our lives changed in an unimaginable way in October 2012 when our then 3-year old Abigail was diagnosed with cancer - acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). If Jeff or I had been diagnosed at her age, we would have had only a 10 percent chance of survival. Yet, after 40 years of research, Abby was looking at a 90 percent chance of event free, long term survival. Still devastating and scary? Absolutely. But the odds were undeniably in our favor.
It is still difficult for us to believe that it has been almost 7 years since Abby was diagnosed and 4 years since she completed treated. We continue to deal with the effects of Abby's illness and treatment EVERY SINGLE DAY in numerous ways. But, by the grace of God, our story remains a happy one.
This is not the case for every family or every child. We have lost a number of friends along the way. We lost one of Abby's best friends, Sarah, who relapsed 7 months after she completed her first treatment for ALL, and succumbed to the disease at age 10 after an unsuccessful second round of treatment. Our neighbor and friend lost his battle with rhabdomyosarcoma at age 10 after only 3 months of treatment. Our hearts breaks every single day for these children and for their parents and families who continue to deal with devastating and unimaginable loss. And then there are those, like us, with a relatively happy ending but facing the after-effects of grueling chemotherapy treatment. One friend suffers from daily seizures. Another friend remained wheelchair bound post-treatment because chemotherapy made his bones so brittle that multiple fractures developed merely from standing up on his legs. Sadly, the list goes on and on.
Abby still wears a shirt made by Sarah after completing her first round of chemotherapy:
Faith is the Key;
Love is the Way;
Courage is the Medicine.
Pretty insightful for such a young mind! But faith, love and courage are simply not enough no matter how much I wish it were true. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer remains the #1 disease killer of children; nearly 13,000 children are newly diagnosed each year. Yet, despite those staggering statistics, less than 4% of all cancer research funding goes toward childhood cancers. Our children deserve more - much, much more!
We are thrilled to be a part of the 10th Annual Hope & Heroes Walk on Sunday, May 19th, 2019 at Pier 62/63. Hope & Heroes funds the life-saving work on childhood cancer and blood disorders at Columbia University Irving Medical Center – including cutting-edge research, the newest & most advanced treatments, comprehensive wellness for patients & survivors, and care that always puts children first. Columbia is home to the largest, most comprehensive and distinguished pediatric oncology programs in the United States, treating over 1,500 children a year with high-quality, compassionate care.
The proceeds of this year's Hope & Heroes Walk will ensure that every patient receives the excellent care and support that they, along with their family, need from the day of diagnosis, throughout treatment, and beyond.
So please consider joining our team - Abby's Angels - and walking with us. The Walk is an inspiring & fun day with incredible energy that brings together patients, survivors, families, friends, doctors, nurses, co-workers, and neighbors - it’s truly not to be missed. If you cannot walk with us, please consider supporting our team fundraising effort by making a tax-deductible donation today. Even a small donation will make a world of difference - helping children today and saving lives tomorrow!
Thank You- Tracy, Jeff, Luke & Abby
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