01 September 2016

On behalf of Chase

I was a senior in high school when I met Bob. He was a junior, and he and his brother Ted were new to our mission community in Jos, Nigeria, where I grew up. They were friendly and cheerful.

And they could sing.

Yes, Bob was smart and kind also, which I noticed over time. But the biggest impression he made from day one was that he could sing. Just wow. We're not talking pop singing like Josh Groban or George Strait. We're going straight to Irish Tenors or King's Singers here. And it was so fun to sing with Bob because I could do whatever harmony I wanted, and he still carried the melody - or, better yet, an alternate harmony. So super cool. (You have to remember that my school was tiny, with a graduating class of 27, so we didn't have a very big pool of musical talent... Although, looking back, considering our size, we did have quite a lot!)

Over time I got to know Bob a bit better. He starred in the spring musical. He took one of my best friends to the junior-senior banquet. He was in AP Biology, and I was a guinea pig in his sleep deprivation study. It was a fun year.

When I was in college, I saw Bob a couple times, as he went to school an hour or so away. I took the train into the city with his cousin (who attended my school) for his junior voice recital, which was of course outstanding.

But we kind of lost touch after that. My parents and his parents were friends (as are most missionaries in our community), so I heard about his marriage to an amazing young lady named Ellie, and I got to see photos of their kids once I got on Facebook.

And then four years ago, I found out that Bob's second son Chase had been diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. It's one of those things you read about in books or in Facebook posts about other people's kids, but you never expect to know someone personally in that situation. There was a real chance that Chase wouldn't make it to his third birthday.

But he did. He fought hard. Bob, Ellie, and the kids fought for and with him. Chase will turn seven the same day that my Anna turns six this December. The first fight is over, but there are so many other challenges ahead and continuing. While Chase is stable, he faces serious health issues and the overshadowing chance of the cancer's return. Ellie keeps up a blog and recently published a book about their experiences. They are totally my heroes - not because they are super-human but because they are human and real and rooted in Jesus.

Photo courtesy Chase Away Cancer http://www.chaseawaycancer.com/?page_id=3722
I've never met Chase, but through Ellie's posts and book, I've seen glimpses into his life, into their lives, and my heart is burdened for the whole family.

In 2015, Chase was chosen to be one of five St. Baldrick's Foundation "ambassadors," a real live person to raise awareness for childhood cancer. That's how I found out about the foundation and realized I wanted to become involved in supporting Chase by supporting the search for better treatments for childhood cancer. In 2000, a few New York businessmen decided to raise money for childhood cancer by getting sponsored to shave their heads for St. Patrick's Day. The response was huge, and so St. Baldrick's was born. While I haven't yet had a chance to attend a shaving event, I committed over a year ago to shaving my own head in honor of Chase. I finally signed up this past week and am booked for October 29, just in time for me to wear a wig for Halloween!

Call me crazy to shave my head, especially as a woman, but it's just hair. Hair grows back (usually). What Chase has lost in illness and treatment - good eyesight, healthy nerves and brain cells, and much more - can't grow back  I don't have much to give, but if my shaving my head can help even one child like Chase or alleviate the stress for just one mom, it will be so worth losing my hair.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so I'm asking you to take a few minutes today, tomorrow, this weekend, whenever you get a chance to visit the St. Baldrick's site. Explore the history. Read Chase's story on Ellie's site. See his profile at St. Baldrick's website. And if you feel so led or called, please donate toward my head-shaving on October 29. For Chase. For his family. For every parent whose heart breaks in a doctor's office.

With love and thanks,