How Charity Makes You Hot!

Mission Hot Mama Founder

Jenni Hogan, Mission Hot Mama Founder

My good friend, Jenni Hogan, is inspiring all moms to get back their hotness.  One of the ways she is doing this is through her site, Mission Hot Mama, which she created shortly after the birth of her daughter. Like Jenni, I created A Mom Knows Best, shortly after the birth of my daughter.  Our girls are only a few months apart.  Jenni and I are also both TV people with normal husbands.  I say this because we are both extremely lucky to have such supportive spouses and because, quite honestly, I can’t imagine being married to another TV person.  The amount of drama that unfolds in television newsrooms makes both Jenni and I crave for normalcy once we get home to our families.

We both grew up volunteering with different organizations and, now, charity work is often an extension of our careers.  Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Recently, Jenni helped spearhead an amazingly successful mobile tweet up in her city of Seattle, which raised more than $8000 for The Moyer Foundation.

Last week, I wrote about how cancer has reared its ugly head in my family.  I didn’t want to leave you with a sad story.  I wanted you to feel like you could do something to help others who had cancer….kids with cancer.  Why kids?  Because I don’t know if you’ve ever toured a hospital, full of kids with cancer, but it’s heart-breaking. By clicking on this link and hitting the “like” button, A New England Company is going to donate $1 The Tomorrow Fund to benefit kids with Cancer.  Our goal is to get 5000 “likes”, which = $5000 for some well-deserving kids.   Jenni was nice enough to pick up the story and share it on her site MHM, because when you do for others you feel better about yourself.  After all, a truly hot mama, is beautiful on the inside and outside!

There is just one day left of this campaign, so we would love your support and any help you can give spreading the word!


How Cancer Changed my Identity (Click for a Cure)

The early morning air was frigid.  The snow crunched under my feet, and a single tear rolled down my chapped cheek.  Headphones on, I was listening to Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying,” but this time, the words  cut through me and took up residence in my head.

He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of  life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout’ the options and talking bout’ sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
He said

Chorus
I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’…

You always remember exactly where you are when you get the news.  I was a morning anchor in Cleveland,  and my husband had just been diagnosed with cancer.  Melanoma.  True to my nature, I remained optimistic, but I would be lying if I said the thought of being a widow in my thirties didn’t enter my head. My husband is a fighter, much like my sister-in-law, who at the time,  had just beaten breast and thyroid cancer.  He wanted to keep the issue private and just wanted the cancer GONE, so shortly before Christmas he had a five and a half hour surgery at The Cleveland Clinic to remove the cancer that had spread across his face, down his neck and into his chest.  It was quite possibly the longest five hours of my life. To say the wait at the clinic–alone–was agonizing is an understatement, but I’m happy to say that although he hasn’t been cancer free, he has been melanoma free for six years.

Since that day,  cancer has taken the lives of  several friends and family members-  most recently, my grandmother,  who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.

Many of you have asked where I am and what I’ve been doing since I left my job as the evening anchor in Providence.  We initially traveled around the country, but when we got to Georgia, where my parents live, they had some unexpected news for us.  My dad–the full of energy, West Point graduate, Air Force General–has cancer.  Specifically, stage 4 throat cancer. He has a tumor at the base of his tongue and the cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. He has had four chemo treatments so far and, I think, 20 radiation treatments.  Honestly, I’ve lost count.  This round of chemo is over and now he must continue going to radiation TWICE a day, five days a week, for three more weeks.  Doctors will then see about removing the –hopefully dead– nodes and will check to see if surgery to remove the tumor is an option.  My dad also has Leukemia (CLL) & Diabetes, which makes all these treatments a little more complicated.

 

radiation for cancer patient

radiation

I am the youngest in the family and am used to everyone looking after me, regardless of whether I need it: older siblings to protect me, parents to be over-protective. Being here, as my dad battles cancer,  has forced me to see myself in a new light…that of caretaker. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can really be of help to my parents.  I don’t have a job that I am tied to, yet if the right opportunity presents itself I can take it. This is the first time in my adult life I’ve ever spent any considerable amount of time with my parents, and the most time they’ve ever gotten to spend with my 20 month old daughter.  She is such a welcome distraction, not only to my dad, but to my mom, who is taking my dad’s diagnosis especially hard.

 

grandfather and granddaughter

Dad & Paige amusing each other

 

grandfather & baby

Fun at the pool!

Click for a cureI don’t know what the future holds for my dad.  We can only live one day at a time and be hopeful for many more great years together. I know it will get worse before it gets better, but I am so grateful for this time we have together.  So many families have been touched by cancer, including many of you reading this article.  My hope and prayer is that we can someday find a cure.  I am not asking you to donate any money; I know times are tough and everyone has charities that are important to them.  I would, however, be so grateful if you could find the 15 seconds it takes to “like” a company on Facebook. Overhead Door Garage Headquarters has generously offered to donate $1  to the Tomorrow Fund for each facebook “like” Overhead Door gets from the start of this campaign.  My hope is that we can help “close the door” on cancer by sending  thousands of  “likes” their way and, in turn, thousands of dollars to the Tomorrow Fund to help find a cure for this horrible disease.  So, please, spread the word, re-post, and take thirty seconds to check out Overhead Door Garage Headquarters and “like” their page.  When the campaign is over, we will be doing a check presentation.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

baby & grandfather

Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it.

Today I walked with Team WKRP (in memory of Bill Priestley, a community friend) at the PurpleStride Rhode Island event for pancreatic cancer, and I made the decision to have my 6-year old daughter and 4-year old son walk with me.  At first they were a bit resistant to waking up early and having to exert energy, but after they saw the event in action they were excited to be a part of it and enjoyed it!  I was initially planning on running it by myself, but when I heard others were bringing their kids, I realized this could be a great learning experience for them.

The weather held out, and the race started after the introductions and speeches were made (Allison Alexander  former ABC News Anchor was the emcee for the event – she walked in the race with her family as well)!

My daughter was able to walk most of the way (a couple quick wagon breaks along the way), but my son was pulled by myself and some others the entire race.  He was in a wagon decked out with signs for our friend, Bill Priestley.

We saw the Priestley family there walking for their husband/father, who just passed away April 8, 2011.  He battled pancreatic cancer for 18 months, and he leaves behind a beautiful wife and four wonderful kids (all ages 6 and under).  His wife, Kinda, has a wonderful supportive network of friends in East Greenwich, RI and many were at the race (Team WKRP and Team Priestley from Edwards and Angell, the law firm Bill worked for before he got ill).  It was nice to see these groups, as well as many other large groups out for people in the community (another being the group from Happy Hearts Preschool, walking for the owner’s husband who is currently battling pancreatic cancer).

Pancreatic cancer is a hard illness to overcome (survival rate is currently about 4.6%), and it is nice to see people out raising money for research to help find a cure and to learn more about the disease to help increase the survival rate.  After the 5K was finished and we were on our way home, my daughter said, “It was nice all those people gave money and helped out people that are sick.”  I am very proud of her for saying that, and I realized that the decision to bring my kids along was a good decision after all.  They did learn from it, and it was a great experience for them to see the community coming together to support a cause and to support loved ones, both battling pancreatic cancer and those that have passed away from the disease.  Please visit the PurpleStride Rhode Island site to donate money, or consider donating to the Priestley Children’s Education Fund, which can be sent to The Law Office of Joseph A. Priestley, Jr., 85 Beach Street, Westerly, RI 02891.

* Have you included your children in community events for raising money and awareness?  What lessons did your children learn?

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Kristin Wheeler