My Daughter Can Do Anything

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Thanks again for stopping by and sharing this amazing story of Anny’s courage and R.S.’ overwhelming love and pride for her daughter.

Everyone knows the saying if life gives you lemons, then make lemonade.

Some people live their life with this mantra. One such person is the daughter of my dear friends.

R.S. is a crazy New Jersey mother of two children – a son aged 17 and a daughter aged 12. RS works primarily to pay for expenses incurred in educating her visually impaired daughter. In addition, she tries to manage her household.

However, one thing you have to know about R.S. is that “if you cross my children, you will have to cross me as well – and you don’t want to do that!”

Below is a story about R.S.’s12 year old Anny that is sure to bring tears to your eyes. Thanks to R.S. for sharing this incredible moment.

My visually impaired cancer patient 12 year old daughter can do anything she wants.

Recently, she decided to raise money for the charity Chai Lifeline (an organization the supports children with cancer and other blood disorders) as a way to say thank you for all the support they have given her during her battle with cancer.  So, she decided to participate in the organization’s Miami half marathon.

Anny dressed and ready to head to the marathon.

Anny dressed and ready to head to the marathon.

We flew to Miami Thursday night but didn’t check into our hotel till 2:30am!

From the time we woke up the next day, we were being taken care of without even asking for it!

Anny spent Friday afternoon swimming in the pool and enjoying spending time with some of the other kids who were there – cancer patients, survivors and siblings of patients.  Lunch was brought by one of the counselors who made a pizza run.

Dinner was provided by Chai Lifeline and over 700 people shared that meal.  We were sitting with our group – The Power Players – Anny’s counselors from camp – who raised almost $50,000 to participate in this marathon!  There was singing, and joking and good food.  I watched as Anny’s counselors included her in the singing and even joined Anny when she chose “The cup song” (her favorite) to sing!

Later, I enjoyed the dessert reception by one of the hotel pools while Anny was resting in the room, too tired to go.  I spent some time talking to other families of cancer patients and survivors about life.

I needed this time as my husband and I had just gotten news: Anny’s first MRI after chemo showed unfavorable results.  We talked about anger, frustration and the brief meltdown Anny had earlier in the evening when I told her about the MRI. I had told Anny that it was ok to cry, after all this was not what we were expecting to hear.

Saturday’s weather was even more beautiful than Friday.  The sun was shining brightly and we decided that we were going to walk along the beach with some other girls after lunch.

Saturday night was a pre-race past party.  Everyone who entered the party was cheered on by the staff – The cheers of “Anny, Anny, Anny” were a great start.  The room was filled with runners, some in their team shirts, some in their running shirts, and some in just their normal street clothing (Florida style!)  There were some speeches, some videos and lots of cheering and yelling and singing.

We got up at 3:30 A.M. as we needed to so to catch a bus to the marathon at 4:30 A.M. Anny wore her shirt with the marathon badge. I was so proud to see her in her marathon outfit – sneakers, runner’s pants and marathon shirt with her number and name on the sleeve!

Anny at the starting line.

Anny at the starting line.

Once at the race, I found a good seat at the finish line anxious to see my princess to arrive.  I was told that my daughter’s counselor usually ran the marathon in just over three hours, and she predicted that it might take her 30 minutes longer to push.


Anny and her counselors along the route.

Anny and her counselors along the route.

Around the 2 hour mark, the clouds started to roll in and the rain began.  Many runners passed by and told me that Anny was right behind them, and so I waited.  The 3 hours mark came but there was no sign of Anny or her counselor though I continued getting assurance that “she’s right behind me.”

The 4 hours mark passed. I was sure that there was a problem with Anny and that the counselor pushing her was struggling.  Again I was told “Anny is right behind me.”

At 4 hours and 28 minutes, I saw a beautiful sight.  There was my daughter, smiling, walking with her cane, guided by her counselor, with another counselor pushing the wheelchair, walking towards the finish line.  I began to scream and cheer and cry. I could not believe that my daughter – with brain tumors in her head, and a walking cane to guide her in her hand – was about to cross the finish line!    Other runners joined her as she approached the finish line and crossed it with her.  They sang, screamed, and cheered with her and me.

Anny and her counselor crossing at the finish line.

Anny and her counselor crossing the finish line.

My daughter who is “differently abled” can accomplish anything!  Seeing my daughter cross that finish line filled me with a feeling that words can’t describe and an image which I will never forget.

Annie getting her medal from another counselor

Annie getting her medal from another counselor.

Anny faces many challenges, in the next few months while we get clarification of her updated diagnosis and in her life as a whole – but she can do anything she wants to.

**Please note Anny walked three miles of the marathon and was pushed in a wheelchair for the other 10.5.

Get on the Boat

An old joke:
A great storm has taken place and massive flooding has occurred. A pious, holy man stood on his roof to escape the flood. As the water continues to rise ever higher, a boat comes along. The boat comes up to him and the people inside offer the religious man a ride. He declines, “No thank you. G-d will save me.” While those in the boat are surprised at his reaction, they recognize he will not get in, so they drive off. This same happenstance occurs two more times. Each time the end result is the same. The pious man declines by saying, “No thank you. G-d will save me.” Eventually, the holy man drowns.
The holy man gets to heaven, and he has his moment to speak with G-d. He says, “G-d, I don’t understand. I pray to you regularly, give charity, study the bible, and do acts of kindness to the stranger. I am a true believer. How could you let me drown? G-d replies to the religious man, “I sent you a boat three times, but you refused to get on.”

When offered an opportunity, take it. Don’t question. That is the lesson I take from that joke. You don’t know where or when opportunity will present itself. However, that doesn’t matter. Remember that Stevie Winwood song, When you see a chance, you take it.
Too often, I am a double clutcher to use a basketball comparison. The player who double clutches despite an open shot has his shot blocked. He/she can’t believe the opportunity they have, so they pause for a split second. Well, in that split second, the opportunity has come and gone.
I wonder what if, playing out multiple scenarios in my head. I tell myself I am being wise and practical. I tell myself I have:
children depending on me,
food to put on the table,
a mortgage,
private school tuition bills.
I have, have have. Too often, these blessings can double as burdens.

This week is Chanukah. A very brief summary of Chanukah – The Jews overcame the Greeks, the superpower of the day. The Greeks had ransacked the Temple. When the Jews came to the Temple to rededicate it, they found only one day’s worth of pure oil which was needed to light the menorah (or lamps). They lit the menorah, and miraculously, the oil lasted for eight nights by which time more purified oil was able to be secured.
One could easily ask why did they even bother lighting the menorah? The oil was not sufficient and ultimately would have disappointed. However, the people took that chance and let G-d determine what would be. They had faith. Another question which is commonly asked is why celebrate the holiday for eight days (of course extra jelly donuts, latkes, and presents is the answer most kids give)? After all, the first day was not a miracle. There was enough oil for one day, so the miracle took place over the final 7 days. One answer that I have heard to this dilemma particularly impresses me. The fact that oil lights at all is a miracle. It is not an acknowledged miracle but an everyday miracle. The lesson I learn from this is to appreciate the every day.
So as my family and I celebrate Chanukah and I contemplate the end of the year, I have lessons to relearn. I need to move forward, and pledge to get on the boat when it shows up at my door.

Slow it Down

Tick, tick, tick. I am a slave to the clock. I call it productivity. I say I am proud and feel accomplished when I get things done. And I am. Yet, I am still a slave to the clock.

I’d like to blame my mother. No, I am not in therapy. But it is true, Dr. Freud. My mother is crazed about getting things done and says the same things about her sister and her mother. I would add my brothers to this list as well. So, I guess you could say it runs in my family. I was brought up on this concept.

I wish I could stop it. There are repercussions you know.

I check the clock 50 times a day. When I was younger, I used to stare at the clock. I decided some numbers were happy numbers and some were sad. For example, the five was happy because the bottom curl looked like a smile. Now, I think the five laughs at me as I curse it every morning when it makes me up. But that’s another story.

I walk fast enough to consider entering the speed walking competition in the Olympics. This is not a good date trait. My wife rarely holds my hand. She doesn’t like feeling pulled. She goes for the arm in arm. I think it’s to slow me down.

This Thanksgiving was different. No, I don’t mean the abundant food and houseguests.

I slowed down. And I liked it.

I was speaking to a friend of mine at 11:15 on Sunday morning. He excused himself. He had to get off the phone as he and his family were eating together.

“What are you eating? Breakfast?”


“At 11:15?”

“We are taking it easy today. Everybody slept in.”

“Okay.” I hung up slightly confused.

And jealous.

Why can’t I be that at ease? I would feel guilty that the day is half over, and I have accomplished little.

Well, I thought I had been taking it easy over the weekend. However, my friend’s actions inspired me to slow down more.

It was a struggle. But a worthwhile struggle.

I go back to wondering. Why am I in such a rush? Yes, I know I said it is genetic thing, but there has to be more to it.

I am going to psychoanalyze myself for a moment here. You know that bumper sticker, the one who dies with the most toys wins? I disagree with that completely. I think it is stupid.

No. It’s as if I am trying to prove something. Often the hardest person to prove things to is oneself. If I keep busy, I will accomplish. If I accomplish, I will find fulfillment. Fulfillment – isn’t that what life is about?

I don’t have all the answers. I just know it felt good to slow down. It’s something I need to do more often. In fact, I may eat breakfast at 11:00 next weekend and then go for a stroll with my wife – hand in hand. Okay, we may have to run after the kids, but I am not going to be happy about it. For me, that’s an accomplishment.


Let me Help

It was a beautiful late summer day. The streets were crowded with people milling around. Aimlessly.

“I think we should go down there,” I said.

“Why” my fiancé asked?

“I want to do something. Maybe, we could help somehow.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what we could do there.”

“Yeah, dude,” my roommate added. “I don’t even know how we could get there. The subways are not running below 14th.”

“We could walk from 14th. It’s not so far. I want to help out. What good are we doing sitting here?”

The three of us stood outside of the temporary Red Cross building. By the time we had gotten there, they were no longer even taking blood.  All we could offer was dried goods – soap, power bars, etc.

“I think it’s nice that you want to help, but there is nothing we can do,” my fiancé said.

I scoffed in frustration and replied, “I want to see what those bastards did. I want to see with my own eyes.  I want to help. We’re just sitting here. Sucks. I’m going a little crazy here.”

On September 12th, 2001, there were probably many such conversations going on around the city.

It’s natural to want to help others in times of trouble.  When we hear that a friend, neighbor, or family member is ill, one of the first questions we ask is, “How can I help? What can I do?” It is the normal reaction and one that binds us together. People want to help and feel useful. Being productive allows one to feel pride, accomplished and useful.

Since before the storm began, I have felt compelled to organize my home. I have been going through drawers, closets, and desks. Throwing out, straightening up, and sorting through. There is chaos outside my door. Everyday life has been thrown into tumult. However, in my home, I will keep order. I suppose you could call it a coping method. I’d like to think it is a good method – cleaning the house while not driving my family too crazy.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went into my backyard and gathered up the largest limbs that lay strewn about and placed them on the curb. Today, Thursday, I called the Office of Emergency Management a couple of times. I wanted to offer my services – a healthy, relatively strong body. No answer. I spent over an hour and a half raking leaves and gathering sticks. The trashcans are no longer in the garage, the basketball net is no longer on its side, and the outdoor furniture is back on the lawn. Our house looks like it would normally on a fall day.

We remain without power. School is closed for the children and me. My wife’s work place is closed. So, things for us are far from normal.  Yet, many have it much worse and their normal will never be the same. I wish I could help.