I stressed and grumbled about it, until a friend pointed out how lucky I am to live within driving distance to world-class care. Not just for cancer, but for my particular kind of cancer. With Boston traffic, it was about an hour, one way, to get the care I needed.
Then my perspective really changed when I sat in the waiting room with the other patients, awaiting radiation, and learned that people come from all over the world - quite literally - just to receive care from the same team of doctors that were located 30 miles (as the crow flies) from my front door.
I began to wonder how on earth these families managed it - the expense of travel aside - how did they afford to stay in one of the most expensive cities in the US for the duration of their care? I'm sure there are options locally I don't know about, but I heard many tales of woe as families struggled to stay with each other while a loved one received treatment.
Heather of the EO, and me.
So I was very honored when I was asked - along with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary - to be keynote speakers for a fundraising event at St. Agnes House in Lexington, Kentucky on August 10th and 11th that supports such a worthy cause. St. Agnes House provides a place for patients and/or their families to stay while receiving any kind of long-term treatment, whether it's cancer, a NICU, a transplant, etc.
Just like in Boston, many families come from all around the world to receive the care they need, and St. Agnes House provides not only affordable accommodations ($10/night!) but also community and support, which is so desperately needed when going through a chronic illness. The rooms are private, but there is communal living and kitchen space that encourages families to connect and share stories, resources and support. This is just as critical as medical care, in my opinion, having just been through my own bout with cancer and relying heavily on local resources and people who had been through it before me, to help me through.
When you are chronically ill, many people rally to show support, but only other families going through a similar experience really understand.
So if you live in or near Lexington, Kentucky and are available on August 10th and 11th, we'd LOVE to have you attend! You can read about the details and how to register here. If you come in person, Heather has promised to do a happy dance for you in person, so I'll have to come up with something equally awesome, but it may end up being a hug. But I give REALLY good hugs.
If you don't live in or near Lexington, Kentucky, there are still ways you can help. And while Heather and I would never be mistaken for really big influential bloggers, we know we have some of the most compassionate readers on the internet (I know, because I experienced this first-hand while I was sick). It would mean so much to us if you could make a donation to St. Agnes House - any amount counts - and a little goes a long way:
$30.00 provides a weekend stay
$70.00 provides a week stay
$5.00 makes a difference.
A place like St. Agnes House relies on donations, and to donate go their website here (you will see a landing page that asks you to choose which device you are using - click on the appropriate device to get to their main page). There is a simple "donation" button on their main page that makes it simple to donate through credit card or Paypal, and you can learn more about their mission there, too. One of the best things is their location - they are within walking distance to one of five major hospitals in Lexington.
Usually, it makes me itchy to ask people to give money. I have no such qualms about this one - I've gotten to know the people who are part of St. Agnes House and they are amazing. Many people asked me, when I was sick, how they could help, and I never really knew what to say. This is one way to help - not me personally, but people just like me who are fighting for their lives and need their family close.
If you simply can't donate, will you please share this link on your Facebook page or Twitter account? Help spread the word - either to people who may be local and can attend, or who can donate or help spread the word.
And the theme we'll be speaking about? It's called A Beautiful Mess, which is awesome, and something we can all relate to:
Life is messy. Life is beautiful.
Taking care of friends, families, loved ones and nurturing those we love all while being open to what life holds is awesome.......and sometimes makes us want to hide in a locked bathroom with a Diet Coke, Snickers bar and our favorite magazine.
In the spirit of "putting your own oxygen mask on first" come and enjoy a day at A Beautiful Mess. Using humor, conversation and material from their successful blogs, keynoters Heather and Ellie will provide a day designed to nurture the nurturer and invite us to live creatively into our full, beautiful and messy lives.
It's going to be fantastic, and I'm so honored to be part of it.
Thanks, everyone, for your support now and always.