How do I show support for a neighbor family whose daughter has Leukemia?
A few months ago I heard through the grapevine that one of our neighbors' children had been diagnosed with Leukemia. Since we had only recently moved to the neighborhood from out-of-state, I had only met this "down the street" neighbor a couple of times. At the time, amongst the sea of all the new people we had met since moving, I couldn't even remember their kids' names...and I only remembered the mom's name because she works at the same company as my husband.
I now know. Her name is Lydia. She is 2 years old. And she has an older brother named Owen.
When I heard this news, I felt small. Small because I knew there was nothing that I could really do to fix anything for them. Small because I wanted so badly to be helpful, but I didn't know where to start. Small because my introvertedness kept me from marching right over to their house and taking action in some way. Small because my heart broke for them, it ached in my chest every time I thought of their little girl's pain and how insanely hard it all must be as a parent. Small because I thought of their struggles often, but did nothing. I would plan elaborate "helping measures" in my head while I walked the dog through our neighborhood at night. But I never carried them out.
What do you do? What's appropriate from a neighbor you barely know and never see? What's helpful? What's wanted instead of annoying? Should I cook them dinner and bring it over? Should I offer to clean their kitchen or watch their son? Should I pay for and send a cleaning lady over? Should I randomly drop off baked goods? Should I offer to run errands for them? I asked myself these questions over and over again. And I am so, so ashamed to admit that I still did nothing.
Finally, a small opportunity presented itself. Finally, I have a small, small way to show our support...and hopefully open the door for offering help in any way that's useful. There is a charity 5k run the first weekend in October. It's called The Conquer Run. It benefits The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital (where little Lydia is being treated). The organization provides support to pediatric cancer patients treated at Hershey Medical Center: financial help to families, support services such as social work and music therapy, and a significant amount of funds to pediatric cancer research. Because of The Four Diamond Fund, I learned, our neighbors will not pay one penny of medical bills for their daughter's treatment--they cover everything insurance does not.
Which I think is absolutely amazing.
So we've signed up the whole family to run the race. And we've joined our neighbor's race team and we've ordered Team Love For Lydia t'shirts and bracelets. And we're donating to the The Four Diamonds Fund.
It's not much, I realize. But I hope that it shows some support, some solidarity. I hope these actions just begin to radiate the feelings of loving support I have in my heart...despite the fact that I've done nothing to really show it yet. And I hope that it's just the beginning. I hope the race is a starting point for me to come out of my shell and let these neighbors know that I am here to help in any way I can...and that there are other parents, just a few houses away, who are thinking of them and hurting for them and cheering for them...I hope they know that they are not totally alone.
If you're interested in donating to The Four Diamonds Fund and supporting us in this run, you can follow the link below to donate:
And, if you're interested in reading more about Lydia's story, you can check out her parent's blog about the experience on the Caring Bridge website through this link:
And if you have any thoughts on how I can help our neighbors during this incredibly difficult time, I would love to hear your ideas.
Thanks in advance.
Until next time, hug your kids and find a way to show some support for a charity close to your heart (or for The Four Diamond Fund).