The morning of the Race for Hope – D.C. in 2016 was a wet one. However, my daughter, Jessica, and I were so excited to be involved in the pre-race festivities that we didn’t seem to mind the rain. We picked up our t-shirts and even had our picture taken with former American Idol and rock musician, David Cook, in the survivor tent just before the race started.
Several times that morning, I felt a sense of gratitude that brought me to tears. Not only was I grateful to be there with so many others who were passionate about finding a cure for brain tumors, but it was especially moving to be there with my daughter, after all she and our family had been through. I know we were among others who felt the same and this was particularly evident during the release of hundreds of yellow balloons just as the race began.
Jessica, and I had come from Maine to Washington D.C. to attend the Race for Hope and Head to the Hill. She had heard about the events from Maine’s State Lead Advocate, Kelly Theberge, who lost her dad to brain cancer and joined the event in 2015.
We had gone through a long journey to get here. Jessica’s brain tumor diagnosis was surprising enough back in 2012, but even more shocking was to learn that it was not benign as first suspected. After surgery to remove the tumor, she endured a year of oral chemotherapy and continued with follow-up MRIs every three months until just recently. We decided to go with Kelly and NBTS to DC to make a difference.
When we initially planned our Head to the Hill trip, I assumed I was there to assist my daughter in any way I could. It’s what a mother does. However, within hours of the training day’s opening statements it was clear she didn’t need my assistance, as she did an amazing job eloquently sharing her story at the training day, and then again on Capitol Hill. It was a proud moment for this mom to see Jessica in action, advocating for herself and others affected by brain tumors and brain cancer.
What stands out about the experience was that it was not only an opportunity for us to tell her story and affect change, it was a chance for us to meet other survivors and family members who had shared many of our own fears, experiences, and hopes. We gained new, dear friends, and it’s kept the mission for new treatments and a cure in our hearts.
Over this past year, we have continued our contacts with members of Congress in support of research funding. We have also continued to stay in touch with many of the new friends we made. Last summer, our family attended a local event in honor of Kelly’s dad where Jessica was asked to share her story.
Next month, we’re going back to DC for the Race for Hope and Head to the Hill. This time around, Jessica’s husband and their two young boys will also participate in the Race for Hope. We plan to take a few extra days for the drive down and to see some of the sites in the Washington DC area during our time there. What we’re looking forward to more, however, is reuniting with our friends and supporting our common cause.