The families, volunteers, and mission areall under the understanding that cancer doesn’t stop affecting the family after treatment stops.
Most parents have a relationship with their children based on their time spent together that builds a foundation that can withstand any troubles the family goes through. The framework for this relationship starts young and at 9 and 10 years old, I watched my mom’s strength crack as I came to the realization that my mom wasn’t untouchable and that she wasn’t a superhero. I watched as this veneer of strength crumbled and showed me a person who was in an amount of pain I would never be able to understand. While my classmates worried about the amount of homework they were going to get, I sat in hospital waiting rooms doing said homework and watching as time slowed to a crawl and the people around me tried to start conversations to fill the silence, even though they had nothing to say. As life went on without her, my mom was often stuck in bed and was separated from her family as we rarely got to spend time together.
With my mom spending most of her time in her room, we moved the TV, the Wii, and the DVD player there. In most houses the room that sees the most action is the living room but in our house it became my parent’s bedroom. We put in a desk so I could work on homework there and we got collapsible tables so we could eat as a family. As the activities that my mother was capable of dwindled, one of the few things that always remained, even to this day, were movies and TV shows. As my dad, mother, and I all crowded into the queen bed, in a tangle of limbs, we would escape to different worlds and forget about our current problems.
Currently as a high school senior, I had to look into what major to choose. I found that I wanted to create the worlds that I needed when I was kid. I wanted to create places for the kids, like me, that needed to forget what was happening in their life. To create places where things are brilliant and fantastic, where the problems are saving the princess or fighting dragons, and not worrying about their parent’s health. Through research I found the name for my dream and it was called, “production design.” Through this field, I want to be able to put a sparkle in the eyes of kids who need it the most.
After my mom went into remission she was called a “survivor” and a “fighter.” I heard people refer to cancer as a “fight.” This brings up the image of the victim being pushed into a ring by themselves where it is them versus the disease. To me though I like to think of cancer as an earthquake. Cancer is a strong destructive force that tests the foundations of anyone close to the patient and shows them who their real friends and family are. Oftentimes people forget about the village it takes to help someone get through their cancer experience. They forget that cancer also affects loved ones. They are the ones who have to watch someone they care about poison themselves in order heal, helpless in making the pain go away. By calling cancer a “fight”, I feel like it reduces the people surrounding and supporting a patient to bystanders. They are the ones who are holding them as they cry about losing their hair and their growing collection of scars. They are the ones forcing them to eat despite knowing it will probably have them hanging on to a toilet for hours. They are the ones that try to help put the pieces back together despite knowing some of the pieces are broken beyond repair.
That’s what makes Little Pink Houses of Hope different. By thinking of the family as a unit, they recognize that each person has gone through a traumatic event. The families, volunteers, and mission are all under the understanding that cancer doesn’t stop affecting the family after treatment stops. With one little vacation the intent is to try and repair the cracks in a patient’s family and to help them understand the change of dynamics in a fun and positive way. For me there are few memories that I can look back on where my mom’s illness was barely thought of and where my small family is together and happy. By being surrounded by people who understood our experiences, we grew as a family and realized we weren’t alone. I ate dinner with my mom and dad at a luau, we painted pottery together, and I played putt-putt with kids who didn’t focus on my sob story because they were in the same position. For a few days, I got to spend time with my family without cancer being the deciding factor of our happiness. The foundation of my relationship with my mom may not be built on a lot but the memories I have made of a vacation on the beach, watching movies together, or doing homework in my parent’s room were made with a determination to not to let our circumstances pull us apart.