“Sometimes the strength of Motherhood is greater than natural laws” - Barbara Kingsoliver
There are lists and lists of things to get “Mom” for Mother’s Day but this story is truly the #1 greatest gift any Mom could ask for – her life. This is the story of a Mother’s life that was saved by love, hard work, hope and one big miracle. A few months ago I shared a story of a Mother in desperate need of help from the world. (One Match to Save a Mother’s Life) Myy dear friend Erica needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life. She had been diagnosed with a deadly case of leukaemia and was told she only had only months to live unless a bone marrow donor could be found.
This is her story. A story of being a Mom with two beautiful boys, a remarkable husband, a story of community, a story of hope and a story of the greatest gift a Mom could ever want.
The gift of life.
Guest Post by Erica Harris
When I was asked by Jacqueline (founder of 365give) to write a little synopsis of my journey in honour of this very special Mother’s Day, my mind instantly brought me back to my Mother’s Day celebration last year. The day started with a wonderful wake up, spoiled by drawings and wee surprises. And after a fun filled family brunch with the in laws, my oldest son, then 4, then took me on a “date” – we rode the bus in absolute glee and smiled away at an afternoon kids concert. Beautiful day, beautiful memories. Not once did I then consider what would arise in the weeks to come as even a distant possibility.
Last spring as I spent a fun morning at the aquarium with my boys, I picked up an urgent message regarding a relatively routine lab I had done hours earlier. Thinking there must be some confusion as my results couldn’t be in that quickly, I then learned I was to avoid all public places as my immune system was so comprised. My final diagnosis of acute leukemia came within a few short days. Hours following this, a bed was made available for me in the province’s Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant unit at Vancouver General Hospital.
I had no time to prepare myself, or my family for this huge upheaval. I embarked on my new path in shock and disbelief. For one so passionate about life, health and wellness this was just not within the realms of possibilities. My heart simply ached at the thought of being separated from my angels and not having any idea where to start explaining what had transpired and why mama would not be home.
I had no idea what was to lie ahead- the tubes, the machines, the surgeries, the days of isolation as a result of life threatening septic infections, the endless gut retching nausea, the frequent bone marrow biopsies, the exhausting night sweats, the ongoing blood transfusions, etc. What was assumed to be an original 3-4 week stay resulted in a full 2 month stay as the original chemotherapy proved unsuccessful. After I did not respond to what is referred to as “salvage” chemotherapy, I given a 2 month diagnosis, perhaps 6 months at best and offered no further treatment aside from palliative care. A second opinion in Seattle at one of the leading US leukaemia treatment centers confirmed the prognosis. So despite having had just received the amazing news that perfect 10/10 bone marrow donor was found on my behalf (after great efforts on behalf of One Match, the VGH team, my incredible husband and our amazing team of support who started their own missions to spread awareness), I learned the very next day it was an unattainable goal as I first had to be in remission to be eligible for transplant. After hearing this prognosis, I knew I just needed to be home with my family. I did just that- the team at VGH reluctantly discharged me the next morning. And with the strength of my 3 handsome loves by my side, I gained strength and “our fight” began.
On every step of this road, our family has been embraced by an amazing circle of love and support. Friends, family and and complete strangers sent messages of love and inspiration, devoted hours on our behalf to prayer, meditation, research on alternative approaches and leading health care providers in the field, cared for our babes, donated blood, prepared meals, shopped, and helped in any/every way possible. All of this paved the way to a very unexpected victory in ‘our fight”….and by the grace of God, the healing hands of my beautiful angel babes, the world’s best husband by my side, and our incredible team of support, my labs started to reflect some change and very slight optimism that at least the disease was not progressing at a rate that was originally anticipated. Another biopsy was scheduled and we learned I had attained remission.
Our head Doc said there was absolutely no explanation he could offer aside from saying it was a true miracle.
I was then eligible for transplant, which I had at the end of October. Although I am still on a rather bumpy road while adapting an entirely new immune system from an unrelated superstar donor, I am now moving full steam ahead and getting stronger every day. I am not yet off this big detour but I get to be here to be the first to greet my angels when they wake and the last to kiss them goodnight.
I am over the moon to be able to conquer most of my mama routines on most days.
As I picked up my oldest from kindergarten the other day, I stood from a far as I approached the field. He was running about laughing away with his friends, so enthralled in their game and so incredibly happy. I had tears of joy just being able to see this moment. As I stood there thinking how difficult it may soon be to tug him away from this fun for our trek home, he saw me from across the playground. Instantly, he sprinted towards me shouting to all with such excitement “there is MY Mom!” with his arms outstretched to dive into mine. My now 3 year old sets out on his daily missions to find mama treasured rocks, pine cones, or the prettiest weed of the day and shares them with me in the sweetest, highest pitched voice as he tells says he loves me soooo much. These slower days have welcomed so many quiet simple moments on the home front and these moments are true bliss. I thank God every day for my incredible blessings. My heart shines in ways I never imagined possible simply to hold their hands in mine.
This road has obviously been an unexpected lofty toll- from my husband not working for months on end to be my side, to additional child care costs, to the cost of uncovered medications and the countless supplements, to ensuring every nutrient consumed is of the highest quality, and the many expenses of fees incurred from professionals we sought along the way for many consults/treatments.
Jacqueline’s mission with 365give and her amazing compassion for those experiencing difficult times exemplifies such heartfelt surprises and blessings that have helped ease our path by so many ways. Further, Jacqueline spread the word about One Match registration instantly upon hearing the urgent need. The love, generosity, time and kindness that have been extended to us along the way will remain in our hearts on this very special upcoming mother’s day, and every day.
Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all!
Could you climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Would you sacrifice you time, your energy and your money to climb for good?
This story features a good friend, Kay Walten. She is on her way to Africa next week to help change the world one very steep step at a time. Please consider supporting Kay on her plight to help women and children in Africa as climbs Mount Kilimanjaro. Watch the video and just click on this link on Go Fund Me . Help Kay reach her goal before she begins her climb September 29th.
Be inspired. Be generous. Give.
Video by Playing for Change
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and 365give has 10 inspiring ideas to help you give the perfect gift for love & social good.
1) The Chocoholic: Does the one you love have a chocolate fetish? Why not give chocolate that creates social change and gives back to the planet with your purchase: One of my favourites is Alter Eco for fair trade and organic chocolate but for a great selection of socially concious chocolate take a look at this Top 10 Eco-Friendly Chocolate Treats list created by Greenopolis.
2) Roses from the Heart: Who doesn’t love to receiving flowers as a gift on Valentine`s Day especially roses as a token of your love. Consider buying Fair Trade Roses. Purchasing Fair Trade roses protects the people working hard to grow these special flowers with fair wages, protection against pesticides, and no child labour. Whole Foods is just one of the many places you can get Fair Trade roses but search online for a retailer near you.
3) The Pet Lover: Shop for the special pet in your life at the Humane Society Store and every purchase will help to support the thousands of animals rescued every year. Even better – buy one for your local SPCA animal rescue shelter and drop it off as a donation.
4) Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend: As most of us know diamonds may be a “girls best friend” but so many diamonds are associated with crime, child labour and environment stripping that it may not be the best gift for social good. Instead why not give the gift of jewellery that truly means something special. The Hunger Site features jewellery that is unique, inspiring and truly thoughtful as it gives back with every purchase.
5) For Kids Only: I still remember the days when everyone made a card for your classmates on Valentine’s Day. Instead of buying pre-made Valentine’s for your child’s class why not give a gift that will truly mean something to your child. Take the time to make cards by hand or home-made cookies that are cut with love. Spending time with your children doing creative projects is one of the greatest “gives” you can do.
6) Breakfast in Bed: I can’t resist sharing this one for the name alone and the taste is even better. Love Crunch: Dark Chocolate with Red Berries. Imagine that for Valentine’s Day breakfast. Here’s the giving kick – they follow the Bite4Bite model: for every bag purchased Nature’s Path will donate the equivalent in cash and/or organic food up to $1,000,000 a year to The Food Bank. Every bite will not only give your mouth love but it will give you love in your heart.
7) A Love Letter: What better way to show someone you truly love and appreciate them than a hand written letter. Get inspired by The Note Project and help them reach their goal of sending 1 million notes of appreciation to make the world a better place.
8) Love Song: You may be the hottest new artist to be discover on YouTube with your love song. Write a love song and load it up to YouTube for your loved one. Make a pledge that for every view you get on Valentine`s Day you will make a donation (even a penny per view makes a difference!) to your loved ones favourite charity.
9) E-Cards: Do you know how much waste is created from greeting cards every year? More than our planet possibly needs. Did you know that Americans spend more than 2 billion dollars on greeting cards alone over the holiday season? Imagine if that money went to charity instead – what if it planted a tree? Send an e-card that will truly make an impact. The Arbor Day Foundation has a selection of greeting cards that will plant a tree with every purchase. Save the planet one e-card at a time!
10) The Valentine`s Day Gift that Truly Gives. The Huffington Post and CauseCast has created the go to site for giving called The Goods. An online destination providing you with brilliant ideas for gifts that truly give this Valentine`s Day. Choose the amount you want to donate and search over 100 nonprofit organizations that truly need our support in honour of your loved one.
We can show our love for another in so many ways on February 14th. Please consider making your love count by doing some social good this Valentine`s Day. We would love to hear your great ideas for giving a gift that changes the world on Valentine`s Day. Leave a comment, send us a Tweet or post a comment on Facebook.
We can change the world one Valentine at a time.