It’s “World Cancer Day” and this picture holds so many meanings that have been 19 years in the making...It also means a good nineteen pounds I’ve gained since then...but I’m going to post this picture anyways. 😉Nineteen years ago, my brother Mac (who was 9 at the time) was in the hospital at UCLA Mattels. I was older, married with a five-year-old and a husband who acted like one at the time...again kidding...or am I...and lived in Chicago. They didn’t know at this time that my brother had two forms of Leukemia. They thought it was severe strep and tonsillitis, but they had admitted him and my mom and Mac had been in the hospital for days. My mom was a strong woman, but she called me not so much sobbing, but snapping. She was heartbroken and didn’t want to leave Mac. Not for a second. Not for the 10 miles it would take to get home, get clothes, a toothbrush, nor for anything else she needed, so for that week she had nothing of theirs. Since we didn’t know the severity of what Mac had and that I was 26 with a five year-old and was 2,000 miles away, I was torn but didn’t fly in to help. I can say in that moment, none of us grasped her panic and desperation to not leave Mac’s side, but my mom. I got ahold of one of Mac’s friend’s dad who worked at UCLA at the time, I don’t know if he came and stayed with Mac or if he stopped at my moms and grabbed a bag. It changed that moment for her, but in hindsight, I really had regret for not jumping on a plane and doing what I could. Fast forward to this Friday. I get message from a friend, who ironically was going in for breast cancer surgery that morning and runs a nonprofit, asking if I could bring clothes, a Brave Gown and toys to a family they had been stuck in the hospital and didn’t have family they could bring them stuff. My plate was full that day. I had an entire work day planned. Funny how unimportant things seem, when your eyes are opened to real problems. I jumped on it. I ran to the store and shopped for everything Mac would have loved. Batman Hot Wheel cars, a LA Dodger remote control car, a Nerf gun, Nike socks, soft pajamas a blanket, lollipops, cookies, a Starbucks card for his mom, money for dinner and blanket for her as well. The part of the story that really got me was that Luca had just got to go back to school after being out all year! Over a full semester. His friends greeted him that morning with a welcome back sign. He was so excited and then he got a fever and had to head straight the the ER where they comfirmed he caught the flu. Luca and his mom had been stuck there since. His dad hadn’t got to come because he had to stay home to take care of his other siblings. You guys, Luca was the sweetest thing ever. He was so very gracious. He said thank you every time he opened up everything. He was just as excited about the socks as he was the remote-control car. Every time I turned around, he put something new on to surprise me. My heart couldn’t take it.

It’s true when they say, “the gift is always in the giving.” When I rushed out so my car didn’t get towed, I sat on the side of the road, crying for my friend going through the first surgery for this evasive cancer, crying for the opportunity to get to make amends for a past miss and crying that God gifted me with being able to live a life of service...and then I started crying because I realized I was lost in Los Angeles traffic at six o’clock on a Friday night...Obviously that was also a joke, but I truly can’t thank you all enough for your support and gifting Brave Gowns, so I can get to drop everything and have moments like this!

Summer Germann

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