As many of my blog readers know, about this time two years ago and C-Day. Melissa's cancer diagnosis and what followed was enough to financially ruin an independently wealthy family...which we were not. During the "thick of things", I had serious doubts we would survive...expecting at some point to be living in some family members basement or spare room...but that never happened. We got by. I am still not quite sure how...but we made it through much better then I ever expected, not to discount the challenges we faced and still face today. We live paycheck to paycheck, like most. We have a lot of medical debt. We barely make enough to cover our bills....but, we get by. We received help from so many that I couldn't even begin to tell you who helped us get through precisely...God, I suppose, would get the credit.
We had to downsize, for many reasons, into an apartment and have tried to live within our means, but to this day, we still suffer from the financial woes of cancer. Like most parents, we focus our Christmas finances towards our son, who honestly is such a modest, laid back child. He is pretty easy to please. Of course, something unexpected always happens when things are tight.
About 2 weeks ago I noticed this on my TV...
...a black spot on my TV...and then I am told that it will likely grow...soon, our TV would be no good.
I attempted to save enough in the budget to tap into a good Black Friday deal, but that just didn't work out, even though all we really had room for a 32" or 40" TV. Instead of finding savings, I found bills I needed to pay and not quite enough money to even do that.
I know it seems trivial to be worried about a TV...but let's face it, the only TV in the house going bad and no replacement in site, well, that is a modern day nightmare.
About the time I noticed the spot start to grow, I saw a post on Facebook from the non-profit Brain Tumor Alliance. (Click HERE from their Website). They posted about a tradition of helping families with small things around the Christmas and that they were looking for people to help. I hesitated for a moment, but then decided to contact them. I told them our story, shared my blog, and mentioned the one thing I was really worried about this year...our TV. Even though I all but talked my way out of needing help I really needed...they came through and decided to help me surprise my wife and family with a new TV.
In the past, other non-profits had helped us...The Matthew Renk Foundation, 3 Little Birds 4 Life, and now, the Brain Tumor Alliance. I would love for those out there who have a loved one in need...share this post with them and get them help....those who are lucky enough to not know someone in need, donate to these great organizations...they do amazing work.
One message I want to send to cancer patients, care givers, or families touched by cancer...there is help out there. You and your family do not have to battle this alone. There are amazing organization who raise money every day to help you because of the cancer that is attacking you...people who want to help. Sometimes, all you have to do is be brave enough to ask for help.
Thanks to a call-in contest on 102.1 XL102 in Richmond, I won two tickets to see The Black Keys in concert, which came with a special pre-show meet-and-greet. At first, I was going to take my best friend, but he really had some important stuff going on in his life right now that needed his full attention. Melissa was not feeling up to it, so I decided to take my son to his first big concert.
I was worried about how he would behave at the pre-show event and was just sure he would lose his patients during the show. In fact, little man was very excited to go. Though his behavior wavered during the long wait for the meet-and-greet to start, he quickly realized that he was getting a nice sneak peak into a real rock concert, that he would later attend. The Black Keys played a couple of warm up tunes for us during the sound check, during which the Lead Percussion Manager hooked him up with some Black Keys guitar picks (awesome). When we met the band, they game Micheal signed drum sticks (super awesome) and went on to sign just about everything Michael handed them (which, rules prohibited getting more then one item signed, but must have only applied to adults - mega/ultra awesome). Thanks to Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, my son now wants to learn how to play drums. The guitarist and artist in me is proud and excited with Michael's decision, and inspiration for that matter (the Black Keys rock)...my current/future neighbors and his mother, not so much. We will just have to work that out.
The show was amazing. Both bands we got to see are nominated for Grammys (1 nomination for St Vincent, 3 for the Black Keys). For all those fellow parents or relatives of Michael, yes, he did wear ear plugs during the show. I do think, after seeing him dance, that he may need some pointers or dance classes....looked a lot like me trying to dance.
Just a great time!
My kid is so much cooler then I was at his age.
Here are some pictures from our day...pretty amazing.
Somehow, as much as I have always adored the holiday season, in particular Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, it has also been the time of year I seem to deal with the most sickness and loss of family and loved ones. Most notable, my grandmother died just before Christmas when I was younger and Melissa's brain cancer diagnosis, which happened just after Thanksgiving followed by surgery and the post-op infection hospital stays (which lead me to almost naming this blog Cancer for Christmas).
This holiday season, I have already lost three...my uncle, a close family friend and my father-in-law. All were ill a long time before passing and are all in a better place now. Still, more allure is added to the "dark side" of the holiday season. Still, I love the holidays. If anything, the many other not-so cherished moments make every other good moment that much better...at least, that's the positive note I will end this post on.