Hey y’all….I need to tell you about a little boy.
His name is Preston, and he’s 3 years old. He’s 3 years old like Max. Like your kids.
And he is fighting the crap out of cancer.
The first time I met Preston, he was lying next to Max on a blanket in the center of our new moms group. The boys must have been 4 or 5 months old. Lying on their backs, happily babbling and kicking around while us moms sat cross-legged in a circle, shyly introducing ourselves. In the beginning, we sat in that room at Day One, each of us not knowing a soul, and quietly offered “Hi, my name is Kim, and my son Max is 16 weeks old”. We counted in weeks back then….remember that?
“Hi, my name is Jessyka” she said. “And this is Preston”. He was more than a few weeks younger than Max, but it was pretty clear that he was advanced for his age. Even as a baby, Preston had an awareness about the world that made you realize he was paying close attention. I sat there in my maternity jeans (yes, I was still wearing them), and stared back at the new mom with the long dark hair. The perfect hair. The skinny jeans. The beautiful smile. She was confident, and kind, and didn’t seem half as afraid as I was. Having a baby was kicking.my.ass. Going to Day One was the one thing that I forced myself to do every week. I knew that sitting in that room was what stood between me and the darkness of post-partum depression. And yet, I was drowning. In the beginning, I felt so alone.
Jessyka and I would chit-chat before class. Keep an eye on each other’s blanket-baby when one of us needed to run to the restroom. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be as cool and calm and past the atrocity of my post-partum fog as she was. One afternoon, she and I both arrived at class early. After exchanging the usual “Is he sleeping? Are you exhausted? Oh my god a diaper blowout!” pleasantries, she said….
“I was going to walk down to Baby Gap before class starts. They have a great sale right now. Wanna join me?”
Jessyka, it was in that moment, that I knew I would be ok. I’ve never told you that. I’ve never told you that a single invitation was what it took to unlock my confidence as a new mom. You made me feel accepted. You reminded me that I was worthy of making a new friend. And that invitation opened the door to the most amazing group of women that I have ever met. A walk to Baby Gap turned into Starbucks runs before every class, a group of 2 or 4 or 7 of us, pushing strollers and lugging diaper bags. An iced latte turned into margaritas at Mom’s Night Out, and suddenly we were transformed into the hot fashionistas that we had been before wearing spit-up became a fashion statement. Margaritas turned into birthday cupcakes smeared on our toddlers faces, as our kids hit a year old and we graduated from our “new” moms group. But that circle of Day One Mamas, those special women who were on the battlefield with me during my first year of motherhood, had given me a confidence that I could not have found on my own. Preston’s mom was the one who started to draw my circle, and it was her kindness, warmth, and immense generosity of spirit that taught me so much about how to be a confident, strong mom.
As the years have passed, we’ve seen new babies arrive. We’ve laughed at yearly brunches and shared our hopes and dreams at baby showers and going away parties. One of my greatest regrets about moving, was that it took me away from this group. And yet, the circle created when we were sitting knee-to-knee in that tiny Day One classroom, still holds us together as our parenting experience continues.
A few months ago, I was standing in my kitchen when my phone buzzed, and I checked my email as Max ran through the room screaming something about Buzz LightYear and a star command. It was one of my Day One moms, and she had sent an email to our little group about Preston.
It brought me to my knees. Preston. The sweet little boy who would ride next to Max as we pushed their strollers down the street. He would always sit way up at the front of his stroller, just like Max would, so that he didn’t miss anything about this amazing world. Preston, who loves golf (and can actually PLAY golf?!). Preston, who loves Justin Bieber and can DANCE to Justin Bieber. Jessyka’s gorgeous Preston, has cancer.
That is NOT FAIR. That is NOT OK. At three years old, Preston needs to be making forts with his little sister. He needs to be eating ice cream in his backyard, and practicing to be the next child prodigy golfer. Hospitals are not a place for children.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired of “Cancer Awareness”. I don’t want you to be “aware”. I want you to be PISSED. I want you to look around at the kids in your life, and realize that 1 in 300 children will be diagnosed with cancer. That is not ok. And if there’s one thing that moms are good at, it’s getting pissed, and getting shit done.
On October 27th, I’m joining the moms who changed my life three years ago, and we’re going to make another circle. We’re going to circle around Jessyka, and her husband Jeff, and their tiny daughter Rylie. We’re going to circle around the bravest boy that has ever graced the halls of a Children’s Hospital. And we’re going to walk for Preston. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is holding their annual Light The Night Walk, and they have no idea just how powerful a group of mamas can be.
I’m walking for Preston. I’m walking to remind Jessyka that she is not alone. I’m walking for Logan and his mom Sherry. I’m walking for my amazing friend Mindy, who is one of the incredible 328,000 childhood cancer survivors living in the United States today. Mindy, who survived the same kind of cancer that Preston has, and now has her OWN three year old son and her own grown-up life, because she beat the shit out of cancer, so many years ago. Do you hear that Jessyka???? Because Preston will win this battle too. Just like Mindy did.
This is about mothers. It’s about Jessyka, and her tremendous strength. The way that her world has stopped as she guides her son through this battle. This is about families. It’s about the little ones that shouldn’t have to spend another day in the hospital. It’s about us. It’s about saying that enough is enough.
If we can figure out how to talk to each other on tiny metal devices that we hold up to our ears, we can cure cancer. If we have the technology that allows me to type on a machine and post words that you can read in another country, then we can cure cancer. If we have the money to buy shoes that cost the same amount as a mortgage payment, or even to have a latte splurge a few times a week, then we have the money to pay for cancer research.
Moms….I’m calling on you. Get pissed. This is about our kids. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. If every Mom Warrior gave $5, or $10, think about what we could fund. I’m asking for your Starbucks money this week. That’s it. Or maybe your date night money. You decide.
I’m walking for Preston. I’m saying that cancer doesn’t win.
You can join our circle of moms by visiting Team Preston and funding cancer research. You can lift up Preston and his family in prayer, and help us to let them know that they have a team of mama warriors who will not let them fall. This is what moms do, y’all. This is what we do.