By Virginia J. Pillsbury
My friend has a friend who needs our help.
Alice Larson is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and teacher. Those who know her well say that she is incredibly loving, caring and giving. At age 30, she is married to Josh and they are the parents of one-year-old Katie. She is also a teacher to a classroom of third graders who, along with their parents, think that they are the luckiest third graders because she is their teacher.
Alice is not one of those people who brings attention to herself, or likes it when others do.
For five years, Alice has been on a cancer journey battling Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). Not only has she tried every treatment option, she also continued teaching, earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and had a baby girl during the process.
Now the only available option left for Alice, because the drugs have not been effective in getting her into remission, is a bone marrow transplant. To do this, Alice, Josh and Katie must relocate temporarily to Tampa; Alice’s brother Robert is the bone marrow donor.
Her friends want to help with the emotional, physical and financial burden. To that end, they’ve created a fundraising page on http://www.Giveforward.com, called Give2Alice. The goal is to raise $40,000 to help the Larson family. There is also a fundraising account at Vystar Credit Union – you can simply stop by any location and donate.
Her friends hope you will be touched enough by Alice to give an amount, any amount. They say, “For those who don’t personally know Alice, but have been touched by an amazing family member, teacher or friend, please join us. Honor those people by helping Alice.”
Those of us who have been recipients of kindness and love when in a crisis, know the comfort and help that such acts bring. Even if you don’t feel called to help financially, please help this cause by passing the information on to those who might.
By: Virginia Pillsbury
When God gives you children, He gives you a special set of friends. Someone told me that once and I absolutely agree too. My children are my favorite people.
This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for my husband and our children. There is no one else I would rather spend time with than them.
Being a mama has always been my most important job; it more than any other is what defines me.
I also know that in many categories I am not the best mom in the world. My children are definitely not the neatest (well, except for the youngest one). But when it comes to nurturing amazing, close, fun and deep relationships with my children, I’ve done well. That is because there is simply nothing more important to me than listening, talking and spending time with them.
Each child is unique and different and has captured a different place in my heart that is forever theirs alone.
My grandmother said that she didn’t have a favorite age for her children – she enjoyed each stage as it happened. I think that’s a great philosophy to embrace. So while I miss having babies, I love having grown children.
And whatever the age, I’ve learned that you never stop being a mother – the very real worries that you have when your children are babies escalate into much bigger worries as they grow up. Having a child means wearing your heart outside your body – that means that my heart is in Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tallahassee and right here in town.
For all of the stomach lurching moments though there are a gazillion heart melting ones that make all the difference.
New moms? Hold on; you are in for an incredibly hard and fabulous journey. Your life may no longer feel like your own – it’s not; it’s something so much better.
Having her mom wear a wig when she wears her big girl shoes is all that Kristen Wiley’s four-year-old daughter Kelin needs to feel comfortable with her mom’s breast cancer. “I didn’t understand the power of hair until now,” says Wiley, who discovered that not covering her bald head was the one thing that made her daughter uneasy about her cancer. “We decided together that when I am dressed up for work and wearing heels (aka big girl shoes) that I will wear hair. At other times I will go commando.”
Wiley and her husband, Jeff, have been very honest and open about Wiley’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment with Kelin. “We call the chemo, my super strong medicine,” says Wiley and we also watched together as my eyelashes fell out. I had one last eyelash that hung on longer. We were reading Charlotte’s Web at the time, so we named that eyelash Wilbur,” says Wiley. “When it finally came out, we stopped and had a moment for Wilbur.”
Wiley admits that when she was diagnosed that she freaked out a little bit – especially when she found out how much chemotherapy that she required. “But I have triple positive cancer so I wanted them to give me everything that they have,” she says. She chose the most aggressive treatment and had a radical double mastectomy with reconstruction as well as ongoing chemotherapy and radiation – all at Mayo Clinic where she says her care as been extraordinary. “Not everyone gets As in medical school, but I am pretty sure that the doctors here did,” she says.
To others newly diagnosed, Wiley urges, “of course you will have bad moments but you’ve got to get your mind under control, get your head where it belongs, laugh and suck it up.”
Wiley is also a new runner and currently training for the 26.2 with Donna breast cancer marathon. “A co-worker ran it last year and left his finisher medal in my office for me. When I told him that I couldn’t accept it, he told me to borrow it until I ran the race myself,” she says.