Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Angel Foundation Art Show- with Natalie

Our little Olivia was born to a mother with breast cancer. She has never known me without cancer. For these past six years, Natalie and Larissa have lived with a mom with cancer. They have feared my death, seen me in pain, experienced the me on hormone therapy and prednisone which is not pretty, but is the only me I've got sometimes. There are a million things I hoped to teach them, milestones in their lives I looked forward to sharing. They have felt the rush of trying to fit a lifetime into today with a mother and a father who hope to balance cancer with memories of time spent together... still, life goes on and laundry needs to be folded, dinner made, dishes washed, stories read...

Our family has been blessed by some Angels in Minnesota, a group of people who understand that life does go on and who want to help. The Angel Foundation assists families who have a parent with cancer in financial ways by giving families grants for non-medical bills, rent, food and gas. These are basic things often overlooked or juggled with medical expenses. The Angel Foundation blesses families with love and support, especially to the children of parents with cancer. We have participated in The Angel Foundation Family Days, Summer Camps for kids and the Teen Outreach Program. My children are encouraged to explore their feelings and talk openly about cancer. They have laughed and cried with new friends and learned they are not alone. Even something as horrifying and feared as cancer can be looked at, questioned and reframed when in the safe arms of an Angel. 

Natalie participated in the Winter Photo Project "What Cancer Means to Me." The 12 teens worked with a local photographer (who had cancer himself as a teen). He worked with them, listened to their stories and taught them how to show what cancer means to them in one photo. This afternoon, The Angel Foundation hosted a Photo Exhibit of all the photos and as I walked among them, I was struck by the honesty and wisdom of these young people. 

Natalie's photo shows her with a piece of tape over her mouth. There is a smile drawn on the tape. Arms are coming at her from many angles around her, holding signs with questions written on them.

Her caption:
They just want to see a smile!
Natalie Landis
Age 14
My mom has has stage four metastatic breast cancer since 2009. I am a soccer goalkeeper. I can eat a whole pizza. I have gone cliff jumping.

When you have a parent with cancer and someone asks how you are, you might want to cry but you know it is best to have a smile on your face rather than tears. In my own experience with cancer I have noticed that you can't just tell anyone the truth about what is going on at home because they will not understand.If you are not going through the experience with or with someone close to you with cancer don't just ask about the cancer patient also ask about the people related to the cancer patient because the perspective is different than theirs.

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