One of the daily rituals for Mal at radiation occurs when she first enters the Radiation Center. She takes a hard left turn and sprints perpendicular to the receptionists desk and straight for Elizabeth's Corner. Elizabeth's Corner is the children's area of the waiting room. It is walled off from the rest of the waiting area where adult cancer patients and their loved ones await treatment. Safe from the sights that could confound a child her age, Mal makes Elizabeth's Corner her home for the 15 minutes or so per day that she spends waiting to be called back for treatment. As fate would have it, Elizabeth's Corner is named for a child who was diagnosed with an ependymoma at age 5. Her tumor was removed several years ago, and according to the plaque in the room that bears her name, she is still in remission. Yet another one of the daily blessings we receive is the hope that reading about Elizabeth brings.
Four weeks ago when we started treatments, Elizabeth's Corner, for all it's cozy comfort, was bare. It had one small animal play set, a bucket of crayons, some books and three puzzles. These items were dispersed hap-hazardly amongst the 14 shelves in the room, and simply made the space look run down. The first time Rachel watched Mal and a little girl who was waiting while her Dad got radiation fight over the animal toys, she knew she wanted to make the space better.
After some furious grass-roots fundraising that included Rachel going door-to-door at some local businesses, we raised a little over $150 for toys in Elizabeth's Corner. Then, last Monday, Rachel and I began stocking the room with the toys and books we were able to get: Action figures and Hot Wheels for the boys, Princesses and a Tea Set for the girls. We brought in new chairs made for toddlers, brand new crayons, books and games. Thanks to the generosity of those in the local community, we were able to spruce up Elizabeth's Corner to try and make it a bit more inviting to those who find themselves there.
Although our efforts in Elizabeth's Corner were small (and for good reason, the staff at the hospital told us to stop bringing in toys because they were responsible for keeping the area clean once we left), it gave us a great feeling. Like any gift, hope and love is great to receive and even better to give. For that reason, we have shifted our efforts to supporting a children's cancer charity by hosting a benefit event on Mal's behalf. We have set the date of March 31st for our event, which will be a trivia night and silent auction that we hope will be a celebration of Mal's completion of radiation. All the proceeds from the night will go to a charity that Rachel and I handpicked because of the great work they have done with Mal and the other kids going through treatment with us at Siteman Cancer Center. The charity is called Friends of Kids With Cancer, and we are hoping that we leave them speechless feeling just as loved as we have felt over the past few months. Our family has been given much... the book of Luke tell us what comes next.
For those interested in contributing to Mal's benefit either by attendance or other means, more information will be posted in the coming weeks.
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PS - Rachel, I couldn't be more proud of you for what you've done with Elizabeth's Corner. To Jenna, Jess, Chris, Karl, Brian and all the others helping with Mal's Benefit, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your assistance in making our dream come to fruition.