Parenthood is a blessing. From the beginning of a child's life, mothers and fathers watch their beautiful infants blossom into dynamic adults. Unfortunately, far too many parents are robbed of this opportunity. Some families lose their children prematurely due to chronic illness including life-threatening cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer claimed the lives of over half a million people in 2014. Sadly, cancer is the second most "common cause of death in the United States."
Annette Weller is one of the many mothers that has lost a child due to cancer. Her daughter, Lauren Weller Sidorowicz, was diagnosed with a rare pediatric bone cancer in 2004. During her short life, Lauren accomplished a great deal in spite of her medical issues. She graduated from Frostburg State University Magna Cum Laude with a teaching degree in Physical Education/Health and earned a Master's in Education Administration. Lauren beat the odds by living for eight years after her grim diagnosis.
After she passed, her mother turned this story of tragedy to triumph by working to preserve her daughters legacy. Annette created a nonprofit organization, L-Dub's Love Inc., for cancer patients and their families in partnership with the National Health Institutes (NIH). Before passing away, Lauren wrote her mother a letter asking her to create a fund to assist families of those receiving cancer treatment at NIH. Lauren's doctor gave the letter to Annette after her daughter's passing and it reads:
Maybe for at least five years (I hate to burden you with this forever) there could be a fundraiser to help people get to treatment.. .If there is enough money, maybe they can get travel more than once to continue treatment. But at least, if they can get there to find out if they are eligible for the trial that would be great.
At that moment, Annette discovered her true calling. She went from being a postal worker to becoming the leader of a charitable organization that has raised $35,000 for pediatric cancer patients in less than two years. The mission of the organization is to provide travel resources to children, and their families, receiving treatment for pediatric cancers or at end of life at NIH's National Cancer Institute.
If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would be today, I would not have imagined the life I am living now. Lauren gave me the gift of gratitude for each day, living in the moment. I believe that all that happened in my life prior to Lauren getting sick prepared me to take care of her during her illness and at the end of her life. I also believe that my experience with Lauren has prepared me to be of service to others.
To learn more about the work of L-Dub's Love Inc. please visit their website.