Monday, March 29, 2010

The blog where we remember a young poet...

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading a young poet's work, shared with me by his mother.

Brendan passed away on February 24th at the age of 20 from brain cancer. His book of poetry has been accepted for publication. It is available for purchase here.

I tried to think of a way to describe Brendan's words. The simple efficiency of a quote... his word choice. But, I realized his words speak most boldly for themselves.

Please enjoy:

A Leaf of Knowledge

I don’t know
what the doctor means by “mostly”
within the radiation field
I don’t know
for how long I will need this cane
I don’t know
what the scan will look like one month,
four months,
four years from now.

All I know is the air that I breathe in this instant--
spring's sweet whisper—
into my lungs,
my friend at my side,
his broad hand between my shoulder-blades,
the living G-d,
the love of my friends and family,
and the warm skin of her knee,
onto which I lay my cheek, to sle

Sarah Wainio
Volunteer Coordinator

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The blog in which I ask for a little help from my friends...

It has been a while since I’ve blogged, but I plan on posting each Monday from now on. Look forward to it, put pressure on me! Call it a resolution.

A lot has happened over here at the UCF and some of it I will need to update you on in future posts. I DID complete my first race for Team Fight! It wasn’t pretty, but I’m proud. More on this later…

What has happened recently, which I think prevented me from being able to blog for a little while, was meeting Amber.

This was a sobering experience.

Amber is 22, concerned about her body image, her family and her relationship. A lot like me. We both graduated in 2005 from high school and enjoy a good horror movie. The difference between us, the difference that slapped me in the face when I stepped into her room, is that Amber has metastatic thyroid cancer. Amber’s cancer has taken over 75% of her body. She is a prisoner to it and she is a prisoner to her bed.

Amber is concerned about her body image because the drugs she is taking to control her pain and pro-long her life make her incredibly bloated. Amber is concerned about what will happen to her precious 2-year-old Mimi when she is no longer around. This is where we are different. This is also when my heart swells for Amber in a way that is indescribable until you meet a 22 year old who doesn’t have much longer on this Earth.

Amber came home from Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care not very long ago. She wanted to spend the remainder of her time with her daughter, something she couldn’t do in the facility.

Watching Amber and her boyfriend, Richard show me a slide show of the three of them on a silly, regular night, with Motown music as the soundtrack did two things. First, I was deeply impressed by the commitment that was so clear in this young couple. It is difficult being in a relationship as a young adult, but even more challenging with a child AND cancer. Second, I wanted to be Amber’s friend. I realized that although in a basic way, in a way that felt crushing and overwhelming we are inescapably different: Amber is sick and I am well. But in other ways I felt so connected to her. We both like silly TV drama series, horror movie and anything that isn’t being confined to a bed. Maybe it was our personalities? Maybe we are just uniquely bonded in a way that young women are?

I wondered what I could do to help Amber. I can’t make her better and I certainly can’t pro-long her life. I can’t really help Mimi to know her mom, who I don’t even know very well yet. But, what I can do it try to create a little more happiness for mother and daughter while they have time left together. It certainly isn’t much, but it is something. So, the UCF and I are asking for help. Small specific things we have found out from Amber and her mother, Dawn, that would be helpful to her. Things that will improve the quality of her life. If you are interested in donating something for Amber or Mimi, please call Sarah at 410-964-0202 ext 109 (during the 9-5 business day) or e-mail

Richard and Amber the day we visited. 

Sarah Wainio
Volunteer Coordinator

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