Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...

Remember that one time when I saw a poster in a community center about a head shaving fundraiser for pediatric cancer research? Can you believe that was just 4 weeks ago? Four weeks, people. Do you know what we did in 4 weeks?
  • Convinced someone I've never actually met face-to-face to not only shave her head, but also her son's head.
  • Enlisted the help of a few amazing women. They held Thirty-One and Stampin Up parties to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation and designed the logo we used for our Facebook page and t-shirts. 
  • Shamelessly drafted crafty friends and business owners to donate to our online auction.
  • Held an online auction that included everything from cookies to photography to handmade goods to a Coach purse. That little auction raised over $1200! 
  • Raised $5570 for pediatric cancer research. Five thousand, five hundred and seventy dollars. That's more than 2 of our cars are worth. That's mind blowing. And as I looked through our donor list, so many of those were $10 here, $20 there. It's irrefutable proof that, although you are but one person, you can make a noticeable difference. It's also humbling to note that many of our donors contributed, even though they have not been touched personally by pediatric cancer. We all have the charities that speak to our heart - ones that represent our own struggles and the battles of our loved ones. It's difficult to find extra cash to support anything outside of those charities, but you all did and in an overwhelmingly generous way.
In the hours leading up to the head shaving event in Elizabethtown, KY on Saturday, my phone started exploding with texts.
Are you nervous?
When are you going?
Are you there yet?
What if it doesn't grow back?
How long will you keep it shaved? 
And so on and so forth. Blue napped a whopping 30 minutes and Mama Virgo arrived an hour ahead of schedule. Neal was trying to write a paper and I still hadn't showered. There wasn't much time to worry about if I had a perfectly shaped head under there or if it was going to reveal a tattoo I didn't remember getting in college. We just went.

This is the shirt I created on CafePress.com. On the front pocket is our precious little Pixie Chicks logo. And black yoga pants to complete the ensemble. Note to future participants: maybe not wear black pants if your child is going to sit in your lap during the shave. I walked out with mohair yoga pants.

It was particularly entertaining to inform Neal that he and Blue would be getting shaved, too. Oh, we are? 
Blue waved his approval. Yes, you are. Let me sign you up.
And then there was an obligatory BEFORE picture in front of the green screen...
And then it was time to stand in line. Fortunately, Saturday was sandwiched between gusty and 50 degrees on Friday and 28 degrees and sleet snow on Sunday. It was the perfect 65 and sunny. So, Blue and Neal explored the gravel in the parking lot while I held our spot, inching ever closer to the stage.
These head shaving events are held in all kinds of environments...from Irish pubs (like the event in Phoenix where Brooke was texting me pictures from last Saturday) to front lawns to high school gyms to our very own community center. As I was lamenting to Brooke in a text from my spot in line that I wished there was more ambiance, more attention paid to why shavees were there and who they were honoring, she reminded me that I could bring my own ambiance. One dedicated MC screaming into a mic over 200 chattering attendees wasn't exactly how I imagined my big day would go, but Brooke was right...bring it yoself, Allyson! I had expected to be moved to tears over shavees and their honorees, but when I looked around, what I saw was excitement. Men, women and children everywhere were gathered in clumps, laughing and hugging and cheering each other on. No one was bored or unhappy about being there. There was life inside this little community center. Many shavees were honoring their angels, but they brought courage and energy with them to the stage. There's your ambiance, Allyson. It's not speeches and Bette Midler, but it is perfect.

As I crawled ever closer to the front, a cluster of orange took the stage. This was Addie's Army. They were the number 1 fundraising team for our event (I'm pleased as pickles to say that Pixie Chicks was #2) and represented men, women and children from one of the local lodges.
And taking the stage with them was Addie herself! She is just a twee bit older than Blue and was diagnosed with Leukemia. That's her mom, wearing an Addie's Army t-shirt, holding her.
They gave her the clippers and let her go to town on one of the women in her army. Unlike Blue with a pair of clippers, she shaved only hair and not also ears, eyebrows or the jugular.

Since Addie is in treatment right now, I figured they would leave soon after her team was shaved, so I grabbed Blue and asked for a picture with her.
I now know this look as The Toddler Once-Over. They all do it. And it's pretty funny to watch. It's really the only time I wish they walked around with little thought bubbles over their heads.
Blue, functioning on 1/3 of a nap, had no interest in following any directions I gave him, but Addie looked right at the camera and gave the biggest, most adorable smile I've ever seen. She was absolutely the belle of that ball and I am praying for her everyday. Her family has a Facebook fan page called Addie's Army and I urge you to "like" it and to follow her journey. She seems to be doing fairly well (although she will continue to receive chemo for about 2 years) and she truly does have an army of supporters. I'm so glad that the Miller Family is in that army now!

After our photo op, it was time for one Pixie Chick and her family to take the stage. Mama Virgo, armed with only a video camera and her cell phone, got one blurry shot of Neal in the chair (which was somewhat anti-climactic because he came out looking exactly like he did when he went in) and about 20 minutes of video of me and Blue. Neal took the rest of these with his cell phone, but there was a lady from St. Baldrick's with a serious camera and lens who was completely eat up with Blue. I'm fairly certain there will be some professional photos of the 2 of us floating around somewhere on the Internet.
Dividing it out into pony tails so that it can be donated for wigs.
Lop, lop, lop...there it goes!
I kind of really love this picture because, after 18 months of me using my pinkie nail to dig boogers out of Blue's nose, he has, just this week, discovered he can do it, too. I want to always remember the week he discovered that he can fit his little baby finger up his little baby nostril and find gold. And also, this is my Dumb & Dumber cut. I decided we should keep going.
There goes one side! I should also note that the lady shaving my head is one of the hair stylists from my regular salon. When I popped in on Thursday to get my eyebrows waxed (if I'm not going to have any hair, at least I can have great eyebrows), she and I talked about Saturday. I'm so glad that fate put us in her chair.

This one, although blurry, is for my friend Fred - who desperately wanted a photo of Ally in a mullet. Because I was donating my hair, I couldn't get to mullet, but Miley Cyrus is a close second, yes?
Gone! And now it's Blue's turn! By the way, the toddler hair cut cape is beyond precious and I want one!
Blue was far more enamored with throwing clumps of his hair on the floor than with the actual shaving of his head.
Getting the last little bits. And yes, his hair was all over me...in my eyes and stuck to my lip gloss and we've already discussed my pants.
A caped crusader fighting childhood cancer.
I absolutely adore this photo and I hope that someone somewhere out there has a better photo of it.
It's a fistbump for fighting cancer!
Yep, Blue...there's a breeze up there now. But think about how great it will feel in July!
I may not have broken Twitter, but I think I still gave Ellen a run for her money in the Selfie category.
The Miller Three. Mission Accomplished!

During the past month, the child of a biffy's mom's co-worker was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. He was admitted immediately into Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and began treatment. And thousands more were diagnosed and began their own treatment. Funding research that will lead to a cure is important. Saving a child's life is important. Involving my family is important. And today, my hair? Is not that important. 

I will be asking Traci to share her story with you all this week. Her husband, Brian, shaved her head on Saturday night and she can rock a bald head like no one I've ever seen. One of her sons also got in on the action. I love our boys and their bald heads and I love that they love their bald mamas.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shirley Temple Friday: Honoring Claire

I am so grateful to Claire's mommy, Stephanie, for taking the time to share their family's story. As you will read, Claire was recently diagnosed and so they've spent the past 3 months in and out of the hospital. I imagine that many things take a back-seat when you are knee-deep in a battle for your child's life. Thank you, Stephanie, for taking time from something else so that we can help raise awareness about the need for a cure for pediatric cancer. 

Claire was diagnosed with Stage III Wilm's Tumor December 17, 2013. The tumor was found in her L Kidney about the size of a grapefruit. Her pediatrician found it while she had a Urinary Tract Infection that was not getting better while on Bactrim. We are now at 79 days of treatment as of March 4, 2014. She has had 12 radiation therapy treatments. Our family is counting down the days till Mid -July Beginning of August when her chemo will be over. We call her chemo treatment "killing the dragon." The dragon is the cancer. Her chemo medicine helps to "kill the dragon." Cancer is a big concept for a 5 year old. Although she has lost her hair, she does not seem to mind it much. She is our little trooper. My husband and I are exhausted, but we are hoping she will regain her strength and someday have a normal life.

Claire had not had any broken bones, doctor visits, or any other unusual sicknesses up until now. Claire is a happy, playful child who loves the color pink, Disney princesses, riding her bicycle when the weather is warm, listening to the music soundtrack Frozen, and attending preschool with her friends. She loves to help her mommy in the kitchen especially when I am cooking. She has really missed her friends during all of her stays in the hospital. Her favorite song in the movie Frozen is "Let it go." It is freeing to her, because in some small way she is letting go of being scared in the hospital. So simple but so meaningful. We are looking forward to her next chapter in her life which we know will be bright.

This photo is of Claire at the Her Knight Dance 2014 during chemo treatment this year. She is and felt like such a princess there.

 The other two are of Claire at the beach in October 2013 pre cancer treatment.

What a beautiful smile on a precious little girl. I think Claire has a bright future, too, Stephanie! And the Miller Family is praying for you...for peace and strength during the difficult days and for Claire to always light up the room with her smile as she does in these pictures.

I know I've made it nearly impossible to comment on my blog, but if you have a few minutes and can figure it out, I would love to receive some words of encouragement and love for this family in the midst of their dark days.

Today marks the beginning of The Pixie Chicks' Facebook Auction to Benefit St. Baldrick's. There are nearly 50 items up for auction and they range from designer purses to fresh-baked cookies to handmade accessories...with so much more in between! Check the Facebook page for official rules of the auction. Bidding begins at 8 AM EST on Friday 7 March and ends at 9 PM EST on Sunday 9 March. 100% of the winning bids benefits St. Baldrick's Foundation. Thank you for looking, for bidding, and for honoring Claire today and everyday!