Growing up, I was lucky enough to live in a two family house with my mother and her parents. She worked which meant that I spent most of my days with my grandmother. I used to love being on the first floor of our house – the area where my grandparents lived. There were no rules down there. I was queen! First grandchild. Only grandchild. Forget it. I asked and it happened. And my grandfather loved me with all his heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better father figure. Every Valentine’s Day he would buy everyone a heart of chocolate and I used to get the biggest one. My mother used to tell me it was because he loved me the most.

When I turned 13, he became very sick. It was slow at first but then it was simply undeniable. I remember a moment when I realized that he was very, very ill. I won’t share that moment because it was very personal and embarrassing for him, but I actually remember the car I was sitting in, the look on his face, the shock that revved through my body. I was so scared for him. I was so scared for all of us. He was our rock. He was our everything. He was the guy who stepped in when the other guy stepped out. I really, really needed him in my life.

And then he took a major turn for the worse. Another moment I will never forget. At the end in the hospital he had dementia. And not beginning stages – I’m talking to the point where he was uncontrollably in a panic. Not knowing where he was. Who he was. Who we were. I was rushed out during my very last visit because he just went… crazy. They had to sedate him. I cried so hard that day …. and night… and day.

It was at that point that his body and mind both gave up. We buried him and when we were at the cemetery, I smelled him standing right next to me. A very distinct smell that I cannot explain. I know he was just saying goodbye to me…and I took a deep breath in.

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Cancer – a retched disease that we shouldn’t have to live with – has affected just about everyone I know. And I mean everyone. There isn’t a friend or family member I know that hasn’t had to say goodbye to a loved one due to that illness. Thankfully, there are organizations that are put in place to raise money and awareness for the greater cause. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society being one of them. Have you heard of their Light The Night Walk? It’s typically held in the Fall and all proceeds from the event are used to raise money that helps fund cancer treatments.

Funds raised by teams and individual walkers provide:

Lifesaving cancer research
Financial assistance to cover patient expenses for transportation, medication and testing
Free educational materials and events
Programs such as the Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection program and Family Support Groups
Advocacy for better treatments and healthcare reform
Comprehensive, personalized assistance through our Information Resource Center.

Burlington Coat Factory has partnered with Light the Night for the last 11 years. Collectively, the two have raised more than $16 million!!  Amazing!! Want to get involved or learn more about the initiative? Click here!!

Close to home: Bloggers share inspiring stories of impact from Light the Night.

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