One day, at the Infusion Center, I was having a particularly hard time. My 2-year-old son, Cooper, was battling cancer. His treatment days were always stressful for me, and his health had me especially worried that day.
In my misery, I vaguely noticed a family sitting next to us. They came and went, but I hardly paid attention. I was too curled up inside myself to say hi or consider the possibility of a conversation.
Sitting Next To Celebrities
A few weeks later, I realized the people we’d been sitting beside at the Infusion Center were Jack Hoffman and his parents. Way back then, they were just getting started with all the amazing work they have done for childhood cancer patients. They were an inspiration to our family.
Jack is a 10-year-old boy who has received surgery and chemotherapy for brain cancer. A few years back, he also formed a friendship with Nebraska Cornhuskers football player Rex Burkhead, who’s now a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jack’s parents have created Team Jack (www.teamjackfoundation.org) to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.
I was so sad to realize that I had missed an opportunity to meet them, because I’d been too focused on my own heartache even to say hi.
So, from that day on, I made a decision that each time we were at the Infusion Center, I would reach out to at least one parent. I would say hi. If they seemed like they wanted to chat, we would chat.
Why The Plan Worked
My husband laughed at my new plan, but it was one of the best things I could have done.
In talking to other cancer parents, I found out that we spoke the same language. I didn’t have to explain every medical term or test to them—they already got it! In fact, they got a lot more than that.
Our friends and family back home were a wonderful support system throughout Cooper’s treatment, but no one can really fully understand childhood cancer until they live it. These people were living it, just like we were. They were fighting right alongside of us.
Friendships That Endure
It was so good to connect with these other families of kids with cancer. Over the years, they have supported us, and we have offered our support to them. In fact, we still keep in touch with many of the people we met during Cooper’s cancer treatment. Some have even become close friends.
And we did eventually get another chance to meet Jack Hoffman and his family. In fact, we even got to know them a little bit over the years. As it turned out, they ended up being just one of the amazing families we were blessed to meet along the way, all because we decided to say hello.
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