**Call 328-57-50 or Text CASTLE to 51555 to give NOW!!**

There have been few things in my life that have affected me so profoundly, year after year, as the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon. As we begin year 14 I've been reflecting on the many lessons I've learned from it, that, for better or worse, have changed me forever.

I've learned that "family" is much more than the one you're born into. It is also close friends who support, comfort, shelter, feed, put up with your crap, and love you, in spite of it on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis. Family is also friends you see infrequently but have forged an unbreakable bond with, through some shared trauma or sorrow.

When you see these family members there is that knowing smile, that nod of recognition, the hug that brings the span of time between encounters back to zero. We have shared many of those throughout the years.

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Many of these family members we only see during Radiothon, or keep track of through Caring Bridge entries, correspond with on Facebook or through emails. As such we've watched these family members grow up, graduate, get married, and thrive. But we've also seen many face relapse after remission and way too many lose a battle we were sure they were going to win.

I've learned that there has been astounding progress in the war on pediatric cancer and yet, as far as we have come, far too many children still die. Every minute of every hour of every day of the week, month, and year, families are doing the impossible; they're burying their beloved children.

And each family responds to this unthinkable tragedy in their own way. Anger, isolation, doubt, and regret, are but a few of the emotions that follow some for a period of time, some forever. Others reach out to share the love and support they have themselves felt throughout their ordeal, as they, in turn, comfort their comforters.

I have learned that we must find a way to treat children battling cancer with something other than procedures and toxic chemicals that leave them vulnerable to other health problems ( heart disease, hormone imbalance, hearing loss, additional cancers caused by the same radiation and chemotherapy which rid them of their original disease) as they grow up.

Finally, I have been made acutely aware of the importance of money in relation to the cost of treating a child with cancer. It is very expensive and one parent almost always gives up their job to be with their child during treatment. So not only are you anxious over your child's illness, you now have the additional worry about finances.

It is often said that "there is no problem which cannot be solved by throwing money at it." Millions of us are hoping that someday this will also be true of cancer, pediatric and otherwise.

In the meantime, thank you for finding it in your heart and budget to call 328-5750 and give to the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon, which supports children and their families while they're in the struggle of their lives.


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