Imagine hearing your oncologist say: You have only a few months to live. Our young moms and dads across the United States hear this sentence weekly. Sadly, it remains too easy for JAJF [Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation] to receive prescriptions to treat these sweet, young families. Despite advances in cancer research, too many young moms and dads are not being saved by the next wonder drug or are hoping for a cure and leaving behind their children.
This terminal news often involves an introspective reflection/challenge of beliefs and acceptance. Many of these young parents are naturally angry. They must say goodbye to their children decades earlier than they ever contemplated. Is this the best time to ask for forgiveness or to forgive others? Is this the appropriate time for repentance? Is there time to reflect on past mistakes and make amends with others?
TREATING THE FAMILIES; NOT THE CANCER does not involve spiritual guidance (and, of course, cancer does not care who you are … there is no discrimination). We do, however, have many heart-to-heart conversations with moms and dads from all walks about life and their now inevitable mortality.
Jack & Jill was inspired by the spirit, smile and outlook of my wife Jill. She used to always say the only difference between the two of us (and most others) is that she knew her roadmap. She knew her general expiration date frankly.
Have you engaged in the thought: What would I do if I was told I had only months to live?
Rosh Hashanah is a time to come together as family and celebrate the new, sweet year. Some say it is a time to remind ourselves what we take for granted: family and health included.
The challah is often baked in a round shape to symbolize the cyclical nature of life. For some, a terminal diagnosis is a catalyst to return to their faith. For others we have seen it become a departure.
The one common denominator we have seen in our fifteen years is when a young mom or dad has late stage cancer, so do their children. The priority for everyone we have treated becomes FAMILY and the window to create cherished, positive, FUN memories … while they can.
I just finished the draft for our 2019 Annual Report (aka our annual SMILE BOOK). I included this sweet note from one of our families:
“When we walked into the hotel, the look in my kids’ eyes was priceless. My husband and I were also in awe and cried with joy. We were overwhelmed by the generosity, compassion and attention to detail we received by The Foundation. When a family goes through late stage cancer, it takes away their spirit of fun and sense of family. Thank you for letting us have our family and our spirits renewed with this WOW! Experience. The memories truly will be my children’s greatest inheritance after I am gone in a few months.”
May we all celebrate FAMILY and create our own cherished memories this new year whether it be our last or not.