It broke my heart when I heard the news: Only six years old, Olivia faced the rest of her life struggling to hold onto the memory of her mother. I didn't know her mother. Only that she was 31. The stories that were told of her positive energy, enthusiasm, sense of humor, and overall good nature painted a picture of someone I would've liked to know. But in the wake of her unsuccessful seven-year battle with breast cancer, that simply wasn't going to happen.
Which brings me back to Olivia ... As a father of two daughters approximately her age, I know how important Mom is. So I can sympathize with Olivia, as did many people. After the passing of Olivia's mom, a community came together to support her family. Her dad is a well-liked member of his neighborhood, church, and company. After hearing him speak about his beloved wife at her funeral, many commented on how strong and composed he appeared -- much more so than those around him, who were going to miss his wife, who were thinking about Olivia, and who were struggling to come to terms with how cancer could take someone so young.
Those are the commonalities that brought people together to help.
Many friends aided through typical acts of bereavement, such as bringing food to the house and spending time with the grieving family. Others took more extraordinary steps, like the creation of a scholarship fund for Olivia. In short, we were doing our part, as were other friends and family, to help ease the pain that we were all feeling. We knew that this could've happened to any of our families.
Breast cancer impacts one in eight women every year. The best defense is early detection, which is why mammograms and regular checkups are so important -- particularly as woman age. Breast cancer is cruel, torturing families and taking a woman's sense of femininity through the effects of chemotherapy and mastectomies. However, there is still no cure, and without a cure, there will be many more Olivias being raised without their mothers. That's a tragedy we must try to eliminate.
Friendly Neighborhood Helpers is issuing a challenge to help raise money for the breast cancer research charities with which we work. During this month, ask your children to draw a picture of a special woman in their lives; it could be Mom, an aunt, a teacher, or friend. Then upload it to Friendlies and select any one of the breast cancer charities below to help. We'll put the picture in our special gallery dedicated to fighting breast cancer. From there, share the link to the gallery with five of your friends and ask them to purchase at least one print for $0.99.
Together we can make a difference. We can raise awareness. We can help prevent further losses like Olivia's.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find the cures.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Founded in 1991, National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) extends women's lives through education about breast cancer and early detection. The Foundation exists to save lives by providing access to free and low-cost mammograms for those with limited resources, increased awareness through continuing education programs, and online community support programs.
National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund
The National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (NBCCF) supports the educational efforts of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. It empowers and trains advocates to be effective in every aspect of the fight to end breast cancer. NBCCF gives women the tools to make their own informed decisions and take a leadership role with legislative, scientific, and clinical decision makers.
About Friendly Neighborhood Helpers
These charities and many more can be assisted via our website, Friendly Neighborhood Helpers (www.friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org). At Friendly Neighborhood Helpers, a student (K-12) uploads artwork to the site, where people can purchase it in a variety of mediums (shirts, mugs, stickers, framed art, etc.). All of the proceeds are then divided among the student's school and a charity selected by the student.
To get more info, go to any one of the following places:
If you'd like to make a donation to help us further our cause, you can do so at friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org/donate.cfm