Bill and I rode our bikes to Olympic Village Plaza yesterday. We were going to meet our friend, Mary Putt. It was a day in our city that was quite different from the ones we usually enjoy, but my goodness, it feels important to look back on it right now. I will share it with Unknown Mami's "Sundays in my City" blog meme, with many thanks to her for hosting.
Mary was attending a Childhood Cancer Awareness event at Olympic Village Plaza. She lives quite a distance from Vancouver and she doesn't come into town all that often. If we wanted to spend time with her, we had to steel ourselves to face kids with cancer as well as their siblings, their friends and their parents.
Neither of us have children though we do have some dearly loved great-nephews in our lives. Though Bill went through his battle with Cancer, one that cost him an even greater battle caused by his treatments, we would never, normally, attend such an event. They are just too sad. I will quote loosely from the mother of a child with cancer: "I used to turn off the television when stories of children with cancer came on. It wasn't that I didn't care. It was just too sad. I don't have that choice any more. I can't turn this one off." Please don't turn this post off, folks. I promise to show you some great smiles and happy stories. The kids don't want us to be sad. They just want us to know they are there and they just want to do the "stuff" that most kids do. They happen to have cancer. It's not fair, and they do need some help, but it doesn't define who they are. Turning away from them makes their battle a double-whammy. We've got to do what we can.
Mary Putt is Lilee-Jean's grandmother. Lilee-Jean lost her battle with cancer just over a year ago. I have posted about her quite a few times. I would not have known about her, except for hearing her dad sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at Granville Island. I loved his voice, musicality and passion so much, I looked him up and found out that he and Lilee's mother, Chelsea, were dealing as best they could with the worst nightmare a parent can imagine. You can listen to Andrew here, as you read the rest of the post.
This is Lilee. I took these photos of her the only time I had an opportunity to meet her. She is with her Auntie Caroline. At this point, her parents know she doesn't have a lot of time left, and they have thrown a picnic celebration where her internet fans (and there are many) can meet her and mingle with the others in her life who have been touched by her story. Everyone is not able to make it. Many live on the other side of the world. Lilee-Jean's mom, Chelsea, kept a blog that may one day be a book. She had to do that. Lilee-Jean was a spirit so strong, it simply had to be shared. Chelsea continues now with a new blog that tells the story of her journey forward. She has to do that as well, for Lilee, for herself and for the thousands whose hearts are wrapped up in their story.
The Butter and Egg Band played some really happy music. Some people danced, others sang along, and there was a lot of toe-tapping. Chelsea and Andrew made up their minds to "dance in the rain" even as they knew they were losing their child. I just googled Lilee-Jean Putt, Dancing in the Rain and got 140,000 results.There were many people at the plaza yesterday. Some may have just heard the music and decided to stop for a listen. This rabbit came along with a gentleman in a wheelchair. I don't know if he has cancer. I do know he loves his rabbit, Boo.
Boo is extremely outgoing. Not shy at all, I'd say.
I think he was having a very good day.
This is Bill trying to convince Black Jack to settle down after she discovers Boo's presence :)
There were posters displaying the children's stories, some currently battling cancer and others whose spirits continue to reign strong in spite of their passing.
The colour gold has been chosen as the one to represent awareness of childhood cancer. I thought the sousaphone player's attire and instrument caught the theme colour beautifully.
Mary Putt has many friends, some made through her dear Lilee. Barely a year passed since losing her granddaughter, she smiles through her tears and continues to raise awareness every way she possibly can. Her friend Teresa is by her side, with Teresa's daughter and her 10-day-old (!) baby in the picture as well. A brand new life..to celebrate.
And what a cutie!
Never too young to raise awareness.
Bless your sweet little heart, my dear. May you live a long, happy and healthy life!
Some of the kids singing in the photos below have cancer. Others are their siblings.Some knew the words. Others weren't quite so sure.
What they did absolutely know is that they were standing by each other..
and having a lot of fun along the way.
I'm not sure if they realized how much I loved seeing them,
and recognizing their heroism. The girl in yellow spoke. I've forgotten her name but I will never forget her message. "We want you to know we are here!" Her hair is just beginning to grow out. She called to her mom the first day she needed shampoo after the chemo treatments. As her mom said, "I don't take using shampoo for granted any more."
This girl gave it her best, knowing that what she stands for is far more important than a perfect performance. Watch for her expression a bit further down the post as she finishes the performance. That smile just about made my heart burst.
I cannot give you the exact statistics, but I understand that there is far more funding..
going into research of adult cancers than into the very different childhood ones. BC Children's hospital, the hospice for children, and other organizations such as Children's Wish are just a few of the way we can help. My personal passion is to do my small bit to make sure the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in and the food we consume is safe for us and for our youth. Though we are still searching for cures, there are many known causes of cancer. We've got to work together to eliminate as many of those as possible. Choose your own unique ways to help.. maybe sometimes, it's just a smile. But for sure, we can't make a difference if we refuse to acknowledge the kids.
Okay, here she is, the song finished.
She is responding to the applause.
She knows she has made a difference.
She sees it in the smiles, hears it in the laughter.
This represents the Tree of Gold. Conceived of by Team Finn, it won the People's Choice Award last year. The ribbons, some with wings, represent the children who battled and/or continue to battle cancer.
BC Place and Telus World of Science lit up gold yesterday for the children.
At first, it was hard to see "Science World's" gold in the bright sunlight, but my camera picked up more of it than I realized.
In the evening, I went out for a walk, hoping to see the golden lights. I found a few signs of gold that I wasn't expecting.. a flower in the lamplight,
and some reflections..
in False Creek.
BC Place was a bit of a challenge for my camera to capture but there are some great shots of it on line that include Science World and a beautiful False Creek vista. Here's one taken from the Childhood Cancer Awareness Facebook page.
During my walk, I took this one of BC Place, with a high-rise seeming to show gold as well.The Cambie Bridge..
had golden hues,
and truly, it seemed that..
everywhere I looked,
a gold theme..
could not be..
It was all around me.
I chose not to be sad.
There is too much to celebrate.
I urge you to think of the kids and not of your sadness. You will find a smile and maybe, you will find your own personal way to make a difference. Thank you, Mary, thank you Lilee-Jean, and thank you to the kids who showed me who they are, yesterday. I won't forget you!