Drew's mom, Kate, graciously accepted my invitation to guest blog. Thank you Kate for bringing us all encouragement from the heart and from the heartland. I hope it gives you all ideas about how you can get involved!
Second graders don’t really understand boundaries very well- they love to touch and hug and feel and love maybe a little too much for the comfort of most. But it’s part of what I love about my job. And these little sweeties can’t get enough of my lanyard! The symmetry and shine of the beads, the interesting feel of the patterns, the glimmer of something around my neck. Kids can’t resist. My lanyard gets handled a lot over the course of a typical school day.
I picked up my first one at the CNCF conference this past summer, a fellow cancer-mom admiring another’s beautiful work in memory of her beautiful Erin. I eagerly awaited the first day of school, after two years removed from my job to care for Drew during his treatment. Now with Drew, almost four, in remission since April 2008, and his brother Ben, almost two, who was born during the early stages of Drew’s treatment, I was ready to return.
I clipped my ID onto my lanyard during my two teacher prep days before school started, and the compliments flew! Everyone wanted to know where they could get one! There were many interested in my lanyard, but even more importantly than that, I found myself with a natural, beautiful way to talk about neuroblastoma, talk about what my son and my family had been through, and talk about Erin and so many beautiful children like her who have been lost. Even though most of my co-workers were familiar with my journey, this beautiful jewelry became a new reason and a new way for them to understand who I really was, and what was really important to me now that my life had been turned upside-down.
I set up my first display in the teacher’s lounge, and was delighted at the success. Delighted for CNCF, and delighted for the memory of Erin. Then I realized it was going even further than that. There were twenty new lanyards out there, twenty more people passing the word about neuroblastoma, about Erin’s story, about Drew’s story. And I knew I had to continue bringing these lanyards to my community of teachers and beyond.
Vickie has generously and enthusiastically responded to the “demand” of her product here. She’s even added a special “blue” bead to some of the pieces to honor Drew’s battle with neuroblastoma. It’s so touching to know that his story gets out there too. I love knowing that even though that time in our lives was terrible, it is now being used to do good- to spread awareness, to raise money for research, to talk about amazing kids like Drew and Erin.
The lanyards continue to be in high demand here in Crown Point, Indiana. There have even been several special orders. I’ve got a whole office of women waiting for a display this week. And I know there will be a whole new group of people that not only enjoy beautiful jewelry, but now have an easy way to tell the world about neuroblastoma.
As for me, three new lanyards later and all of mine still take a beating from my second graders (did I mention they’re incredibly sturdy?) I’m proud to wear and spread the word about something strong, beautiful, and unique, just like our kids. Thank you Vickie, and Erin, for bringing Erin’s Dream Lanyards to Indiana!