Great Courage Can Come in the Smallest Packages – a tribute to Princess Laura

ImageOn January 30th 2013, Laura will be celebrating her 4th birthday! In honor of her birthday, I would like to share her story with you.

Laura was born a happy, healthy baby. A beautiful little package sent from Heaven welcomed into a family with a devoted Mother, a Daddy who is her hero, and a Big Sister who loves her to pieces. Laura never got sick, ever. In fact, the first time she ever needed medical attention was when she was 3 years old. She had fallen and needed X-rays. No one could have prepared themselves for the sequence of events that would follow those X-rays.

Laura has Leukemia. Those three words shattered their hearts and changed their lives forever. Big Sister Victoria cried “why is my sister sick?” Victoria was 8 years old and understood cancer. Laura’s parents were in shock. The next few days were spent expecting the Doctor to call saying it was all a big mistake, the test results were wrong and their little baby girl was fine.

That call never came.

Laura’s Mom continued to pray asking “why? Why my baby? Why would God allow this to happen?”

Do you know that even in the midst of complete heartache, she never loses faith? Do you know why? She told me because she looks into little Laura’s eyes and she knows she’s in God’s hands. She trusts in God’s plan and thanks Him everyday choosing her to be little Laura’s caregiver … Take a moment to really take that in….God bless her.

Laura’s chemotherapy treatments are trying, they take a lot out of her, but even at 3 years old, she toughs it out and remains strong. Laura met her best friend Riley in the hospital, at the time Riley was being treated for kidney cancer. Sadly, Riley passed away only days before celebrating her 4th birthday. Although the time they spend together was brief, they forged a bond that Laura won’t likely forget.

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Two months ago, Laura lost her hair. Her Daddy proudly supported his little girl by honoring the day with a ‘shave day’. He shaved his head to match hers. Embrace his awesomeness!

Being 5 years older than Laura, Big Sister Victoria is a huge help in Laura’s care taking. She asked to have her head shaved too, but it’s hard for little girls to grow their hair back, so she still has hers. Embrace her awesomeness!

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This year Laura will be celebrating her birthday with all her favorite princesses at Disney. Please join me in wishing her a very happy birthday and “liking” her page Team Laura. (Maybe send a shout out to Victoria, Mommy, and Daddy too ūüôā¬† )

Laura continues to stay strong, facing challenges head on and tackling every obstacles that stand in her way. We can all learn from Princess Laura’s bravery and strength.

We embrace your awesomeness Princess Laura!

What will you take from her story?

Please help me share Laura’s story with the rest of the world. Her story deserves to be heard and her¬†family could use all the love and support they can get.

All Love,

Sandy

If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like Unleasing The Hero Within.

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Unleashing The Hero Within – A Tribute to my Momma

No, it’s not Cancer. My Momma is a wine-loving, bling-wearing, bald-headed freak Goddess. My Mom has Alopecia.

Alopecia is a medical condition that means “loss of hair from the head and/or body”.

In the fall of 1995, my Mom began showing signs of Alopecia. Not wanting to worry my grandmother, she kept this a secret from everyone around her.

Four years ago, she started noticing more clumps of hair on her pillow, in the shower, as well as in her hair brush. I remember when she first told me…I could tell by the look on her face that she was concerned. I didn’t want to add to her stress by sharing with her the instantaneous stress I felt when she showed me her hair.¬†I knew all too well what it could be. Nope, it wasn’t Cancer. It was Alopecia.

My Grandmother had Alopecia. Since she was just a toddler, my Grandma had no hair. Not on her head, not on her body. When she was young, her parents couldn’t afford to buy her a wig, so she grew up bald. As you can imagine, she was teased¬†more than a time or two,¬†but her sister (my great Auntie) took care of some of the¬†relentless taunters….yes, and I do mean with her bare hands. I never noticed anything different about my Grandma except that she was the only Granny in town who’s hair never grayed. She always wore a wig and she always looked fabulous¬†(plus she had the most sexy smooth legs anyone could ever wish for).

I was well aware of the possibility that my Mom could loose all her hair. And being a bit of a fashionista when it came to her jewelry, hair, and make-up, I knew this would be hard for her. Still, I knew stress was likely a trigger for even more hair loss so I refused to entertain her worries and add to her stress.

As the months progressed, so did her hair loss. Her hairdresser had mastered a multitude of styles to cover the many smooth patches making their way all over her scalp. The more she denied Alopecia, the further it spread. Although she always held strong in front of her family, when I looked in her eyes I could see that she struggled with the reality of it when she was alone. At this point, you might be thinking “it’s only hair”, I’m here to tell you that hair is a very real part of a persons identity – especially women – and one we often take for granted. It was easy to see, and yet so hard to watch…there were days when I could see her grief even when she was smiling.

Eventually we got to talking about wigs; my Mom, my sister, my sister-in-law, and I. Although we girls were all excited to go wig shopping, my Mom was anything BUT excited. She hated the idea of a wig. She said they were hot, itchy, and she’d rather go bald than wear something so unbearably uncomfortable just for the sake of meeting society’s perception of normal. The more we – as a family – talked and joked about my Mom’s inevitable baldness, the more comfortable she became…with us anyways. She still wasn’t comfortable talking to others about it.

Life took a drastic turn when she entered the world of Facebook. She was able to connect with others also affected by Alopecia. She began to feel more comfortable, more confident. Touched by so many stories, she dedicated herself to raising awareness. She never said, but I believe, that she found her passion through Alopecia. She didn’t want for any man or woman to suffer through the same loneliness she had in the silence of Alopecia. She didn’t want any child to grow up feeling they were different, or to suffer being teased by others who didn’t understand the condition. Kids – as well as adults – could be very cruel at times…and she wanted more than anything for everyone to feel accepted and understood.

Mom & my Great Auntie

In the months that followed, we watched my Mom free herself from her own cocoon. She organized a fundraiser and courageously shaved her head in front of all of her family and friends. She encouraged all of us – her children, her grandchildren, and her friends, to take turns shaving off what little was left of her hair. As her hair fell to the floor, we watched my Mom transform into a butterfly. She stood tall and proud, her eyes sparkled.

She had Alopecia. Alopecia did NOT have her.

On July 14th, 2012, My Mom headed to Sudbury to meet with a little girl named Maya. Maya Papaya, as her parents call her. Maya’s parents were taking part in The Dragon Boat Races. They had entered a boat to raise awareness of their daughters condition…Maya has Alopecia. My Mom was so excited to meet this little 5 year old beauty and her parents. A true miracle occurred when Maya saw my Mom proudly sporting her bald beauty. Maya’s eyes gleamed. Without missing a beat, Maya brought her hand to her head and pulled off the bandana covering her head, throwing it to the ground. She ran to my Mom with her arms opened wide. My Mom was greeted with a great big hug. In that moment, my Mom’s inner hero emerged. And Maya Papaya had helped her to unleash it.

Today my Mom is a bald beauty. She inspires others with Alopecia to find and embrace their beauty by sharing hers.

Today and every day, I fully embrace her awesomeness!

It’s time to change society’s perception of¬† “normal”…We are all different – that is what is “normal”. By sharing this blog today, you will help spread the word about Alopecia so that Maya, my Momma and anyone else affected by this condition can proudly sport their natural beauty and hold their heads up high.

What would you say to my Momma? What about little Maya? Would you sing their praise and embrace their courage? Would you have the courage to proudly sport your bald beauty? We want to hear from you! Take a moment and share your message for them in the comment section below.

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