Life, Social Media, As the Stories Unfold
Social Media Support
Before Facebook, we had the telephone, the back porch and snail mail to share our stories and reach out for support. In 2011 (soon to be 2012), Facebook has become a place where you can reach out to many at once, where you can gain support and ask for the things that would give you the most comfort.
I've been watching several significant family stories unfold over the past few months. A friend's mom fighting cancer. A blogger fighting for her three year old daughter's life. A high school classmate fighting a malignant brain tumor. A two year old recently diagnosed with leukemia.
All four have shared their stories publicly, both on facebook and with their own websites. I'm sharing their stories to honor who they are, to give a stronger voice to their messages and to encourage you all that if you can, to figure out what you can do to ease the situation. If you see someone in your life struggling, whether it is online or in person, what is stopping you from reaching out your hand to help?
Little Miss Hannah
Little Miss Hannah
I started reading the story of the Little Miss Hannah Ostrea back in July 2008, only a few weeks after she was born. Her mother, Carrie Ostrea started a blog about her newborn daughter and the 'search for a diagnosis'. Well written, heartfelt and eloquent, Carrie Ostrea is a mama bear to be dealt with. She fought for a diagnosis, she fought for treatment and she fought for everything she felt her daughter needed. The story of Little Miss Hannah is one of the more inspiring, complex and unfortunately sad stories I have ever read or heard, fiction or real life. Hannah lost her battle on December 4, 2011 while in her mother's arms. Visit their site. Show your support. Learn about her story and share it so that the memory of Hannah will live on forever. Help with the Hannah Ostrea Foundation if you can.
The house is now dark.
Momo and her Best Older Brother Andrew Morris
August 2011 I saw an updated status from a high school friend stating to pray for a couple and their daughter waiting for a diagnosis. Quickly I learned that 2 1/2 year old Morgan Morris (or Momo) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on August 1, 2011. Mom Laura Morris created a Facebook Page Miracles and Medicine for Morgan Morris and one for Momo's older brother Andrew, the Best Older Brother Andrew Morris.
The outpouring of love and support newly named Team Momo has received is tremendous. Zumba classes, Momo bracelets, a photoshoot fundraiser and numerous benefit nights have all helped Team Momo battle leukemia as it should be battled: with love, emotional support and access to financial resources.
Momo's battle with leukemia is expected to last about two years as she goes through the prescribed treatment. Momo is a fighter. She is strong and she is doing well in her battle with such a strong team behind her.
The Cromack Family
Scott Cromack, father of three teenagers and husband of Tracy Cromack, has been battling brain tumor malignancies since his first diagnosis back in 2003. He continues to fight a grade IV glioblastoma that is no longer responding to treatment.
This family has a Facebook Support page too. I've know Scott since Elementary school and let's just say that I've known him for a very long time. Scott has not lost his sense of humor throughout his battle and he has always had a positive attitude. As he said at our 20th class reunion, "I bet you can't even tell that I have a brain tumor", or something like that, as we sat down to eat.
He is a member of the Turners Falls Class of 1990 and many of his classmates have come forward with concern and support. The Cromacks have been together since they were both in high school and have been together for over twenty years.
Her name is Gail V. Richard, but those of us that grew up in Turners Falls and frequented Richard's Corner knew her as Mrs. Richard or simply, Heather's mom.
Her daughter Heather, mother of five and devoted daughter, has spent the last several months at her mother's side. An only child, Heather let us in and shared her mother's story of learning she had cancer, the ups and downs of treatment, the excitement that it was under control and then the devastating news that the cancer has spread.
From July 2011 until December 2011, Mrs. Richard fought hard with her daughter Heather advocating, supporting and taking care of her mother in every way possible. Both women handled the terrible reality with such finesse, with dignity and care for those around them. Heather is such a great example of how to ask for help, how to be discreet, how to love your mom while still giving her independence.
Heather lost her mother on December 4, 2011. A battle fought with dignity and grace.
What does it all mean?
Clearly, life can be beautiful. It can be complex. It can be painfully hard and it eventually, for all of us, it will end.
What is the message or the legacy each and every one of our lives will leave for the world? Will it be more awareness for rare childhood diseases? Will it promote a sense of community? What will your impact be on the lives around you?
It is often easier to walk away, to close our eyes to the sad stories of others, but what if we kept our eyes open? What if we said, "how can I help?" instead of thought, "thank God it's not me"? Because if there is anything I have learned through watching stories unfold on social media is that hard times can fall on anyone. Whether you are rich or poor, old or young, your life can take a dramatic turn and you may need to ask for help.
Will the help be there for you if you ask? Should it be?