Thank you so much to everyone that made a donation to Allison’s 16th birthday wish to provide items for the children and families of those currently in in-patient care at the Aflac Cancer Center-Egleston!! We never expected to see such an overwhelming response, but, there were so many donations, which made her birthday an absolute blessing. She received over $1400 in cash and/or gift cards, which allowed her to purchase numerous pillows, blankets, socks, detergent, laundry baskets, and egg crate foam (to make the couches in the patient rooms comfortable to sleep on). Along with the cash/gift cards, she, also, received more pillows and blankets, new stuffed animals, chickfila cards, and more! And, she was still receiving more donations in the mail days after her birthday on January 15th. In the near future, we plan to use her extra donated gift cards and do this again for the families at Aflac. There is, also, another Aflac Cancer Center located at CHOA Scottish Rite; another Atlanta location. We’ve thought about taking items to this hospital, which also has many children and families seeking long-term cancer treatment. And, unfortunately, the number of children diagnosed with cancer continues to rise, which means the hospital rooms will stay full. The children and families will always need support to ease their stay. So, I hope we can continue to help. I’ve always wanted to start a foundation in Kayla’s name which specifically would support the parents and siblings of the cancer patient, along with the child in cancer treatment. However, the business side of starting a foundation is quite overwhelming. But, if I can ever get through all of the paperwork, I will create a foundation in Kayla’s name, honor and memory. If anyone has any advice on starting a foundation, please feel free to contact me.
January 15, 2013………Today is Allison’s 16th birthday. I cannot believe she is already 16-years-old! She’s become a beautiful young lady with a maturity level far better than I ever had at that age. On January 4, my youngest daughter, Ashley, turned 8; it seems like it was just yesterday that she was an infant and on her first ride home from the hospital. On Christmas Eve of 2012, Kayla would have had her 20th birthday, which is so hard to believe. How I wish I could have helped her celebrate it. But, I believe that birthday’s in Heaven are so much better than the ones we have here on earth. Capricorn‘s……I just recently realized that all 3 of my girls are Capricorn’s. I’m not into astrology or following my horoscope. But, I do find it fascinating that my children have the same zodiac sign. What does that mean? Probably nothing at all. But, I did read an article which stated, “The Capricorn-born are extremely dedicated to their goals, almost to the point of stubbornness.” This could not be any more accurate about my girls; Ashley is always determined to do things her way at all times…..Allison sets goals and is persistent to follow through with them…..Kayla never stopped at anything she did to prove that she was a strong and independent young lady. I really am blessed to have 3 beautiful and stubborn girls. I wouldn’t change who they are for anything.
Today, was my first day back to the hospital since Kayla died. We did stop by the front entrance to deliver sock monkey’s for the patient’s in Aflac on Christmas Eve 2011. But, we never walked further than the welcoming desk. And, I believe on that day, I couldn’t have made my feet walk any further than the front entrance. However, today, we were able to take all of the donations from Allison’s birthday to the Aflac center. This is actually a pretty long walk. But, I needed that time to look around and absorb my surroundings….again. As we left the front entrance, I looked to my right and noticed the flower elevators which lead to PICU; the floor where Kayla took her last breath. I really wasn’t expecting for the pain to hit me so soon…..and, especially, after staring at the elevator. But, we continued on as we walked through an area with small tables and chairs with a mini-cafe on the corner. Kayla and I visited the cafe a few times so she could get hot chocolate. We turned at the cafe and I took in a familiar scent; the cafeteria. Believe it or not, the hospital food at Egleston was very good. They made the best burgers, which I ate entirely too many times. Kayla loved their fried cheese sticks, which gave her a little bit of happiness. It was around lunch time and the cafeteria was packed with doctor’s, nurses, staff and parents. And, I am sure there was a mom, just like myself, wondering around trying to find something to eat, but, all she could replay in her head was, “My child has cancer….My child has cancer.” We made another turn to a long and narrow hallway. My first thought was remembering walking with Kayla down this hallway as I pushed her IV pole and she was wearing a surgical mask to protect her from germs. That was the first time when she noticed someone staring at her; she didn’t like to be stared at. In fact, she wanted to have t-shirts printed that said, “I have cancer! You can stop staring at me now!” This hallway, also, had an entrance into the hospital garden. I spent many hours in the garden by myself. It was a place to think and to pray, which I did so much of. I just wonder how many other’s have spent hours praying in the garden. And, if other’s do not pray in the garden, just down the hall was the hospital chapel. I never entered the chapel. I thought that people who gathered in the chapel, were probably facing the end with their child. So, I just couldn’t bring myself to enter because, at that time, it would mean that my child was dying. I’ve wondered if I had just spent a few minutes in the chapel, would Kayla have survived? But, I have to believe that God heard my prayers and cries no matter where I was at the time. At the end of the hallway, is a set of large windows which overlook an area near the front of the hospital. Kayla and I used to stare out of these windows. But, today, for the first time, I noticed big, bright, colorful butterflies painted on the windows. I just don’t remember seeing the butterflies before. But, it gave me so much comfort because a butterfly has become a message from Kayla to me. It’s been so very cold and dreary lately. And, there are no butterflies to be seen in the winter. I didn’t expect to see them today, but, I am so thankful that I did. We turned the corner and walked to the elevator which led us to the Aflac Cancer Center. My heart was beating faster than normal; I guess it was just anxiety. But, we did it….we walked through the clinic doors into the place that changed our lives forever. Some of the hospital staff assisted us as we stocked the teen room full of donations, which was located not to far from the front door. I stared down the clinic hallway and noticed how everything looked exactly the same; nothing had changed. And, then, I saw a young girl taking a walk, probably 13 or 14-years-old, attached to an IV pole as her father was pushing it. She still had all of her hair; I wonder if she was just recently diagnosed with cancer and just had not lost her hair yet. I wanted to hug the girl and ask her if there was anything we could do for her. But, at the same time, I realized that if I told her that my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, treated, lived and died here, I might diminish what hope she might have to beat cancer. So, I just smiled at her….and I said a prayer for her…….Today was a hard day to get through; it was very rainy and cold, I wanted to fall to my knees and cry, but, the weather and emotional pain did not stop Allison’s birthday blessing for these families.