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Even the word sounds foreboding. Unfortunately, we hear it used every so often to describe the battle undertaken by a neighbor, office mate, grandparent or an acquaintance. Perhaps the most heartbreaking of all is to hear of cancer encroaching on the life of a child. It seems so unfair, forcing that child to set upon a shelf a little bit of his or her innocence, like a well-loved toy, in order to face some unknown bully on the playground.
And when cancer decides to pay a visit to a teenager, well, that is just downright mean. Taking on cancer as a teen requires depending on parents right at the time when that teen is trying to be less dependent on their parents.
Our teenage daughter Lainey was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year on March 29, 2011. It has been a whirlwind this past year, involving consultations with doctors, attention from the terrific pediatric oncology staff at Fletcher Allen, chemotherapy treatment, recovery, monitoring, scans, pokes and more tests. Thanks to the ongoing support from our amazing community and family, we have emerged from this experience with Lainey doing well and all of us more appreciative of the simple though precious gifts of love, family, community and life.
We also are incredibly thankful to a remarkable organization called the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Jane and Julie, two volunteers with the Vermont chapter of the foundation, came to visit Lainey while she was in the midst of her treatment and offered her a wish!
The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s whole mission is to grant wishes of children with cancer or other life-threatening medical conditions, recognizing the struggles that families are going through. These wishes, tailored to offer a unique experience for each child, is all about giving that child something fun to look forward to. The Vermont chapter of the foundation raises funds from within the state of Vermont by holding events such as cookie dunks and tractor pulls and accepting donations from businesses and individuals.
Since its inception, the Vermont chapter has granted 588 wishes to Vermont children. It hopes to grant over 50 wishes this year. Lainey may very well be one of those wishes. The foundation is granting Lainey’s wish of seeing a soccer match in Brazil this August (and learn a bit of kite boarding on the side!). Thank you, Make-A-Wish, for giving Lainey and our family back some time to breathe, relax, heal and have some fun.
To check out the Vermont chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation if you are interested in helping other kids with cancer or life-threatening medical condition have their wishes come true visit www.vermont.wish.org.
Dolan lives in Waitsfield.