My daughter Alex died from cancer 10 years ago today, August 1.
I've been referring to 10 years a lot recently as this summer marked a decade since Alex challenged the world to help her raise $1 million and took a final stand against childhood cancer. She may not have won her battle in the traditional sense, but certainly prevailed by reaching this incredible personal (and really professional) milestone of raising $1 million before losing her life to the disease just 10 days later.
I can't believe it has been 10 years since Alex voiced what we thought was an unreachable goal, and she proved that even the impossible is possible, with the help of others. It seems implausible that this was a decade ago, it seems like a lifetime, and also just like it was yesterday.
In certain ways, time has stood still, and in our hearts and minds Alex remains forever 8 years old. Her beautiful smile is frozen in my memory, the feel of her hug is something I struggle to remember and long for, and the simple moments of each and every day with her are harder and harder to reach in the corners of my memory. The missed milestones have accumulated too -as this past June, Alex's classmates graduated from high school, something that Alex will never have the privilege to celebrate. And now, many of these classmates are shopping for their dorm rooms or preparing for whatever their plans are this fall. This has been weighing heavily on my mind, and not because I feel sorry that I didn't get to see my daughter in her cap and gown, but because I feel sad for Alex and all that she has missed.
Alex did not have the chance to live the life we all want for our children-one that allows them to dream of their future and then reach for it, or one that simply allows them to live a long and happy life. Alex never had the opportunity to learn how to drive a car, go to prom, travel to faraway places, or experience many of the things that we would think are normal, and even boring, events as we grow up. I'm sorry for Alex in those ways, but if Alex taught me one thing - it was to be grateful for what we do have, and not for what we don't.
Even though Alex's life was short, she did have the chance to dream big, and prove that everyone is capable of making a difference in the lives of others. I still marvel over how selfless she was, how, when she realized that her own dreams of a future were not going to be fulfilled, she still had the grace and courage to make sure that a bright future would be possible for children like her. She dreamed of going to Paris, and I'm sure wearing a beautiful dress to prom, but she also dreamed of those things for others and because of her dedication and dreams, she has given children with cancer a precious gift - hope that they will see the milestones that she did not.
One of these children is Edie Gilger, one of our adorable childhood cancer heroes featured in a new video that I'm pleased to share with you today. Watching Edie kick a soccer ball, jump into a pool and put haphazard ponytails in her Mom's hair fills me with such joy and hope as I realize that this is Alex's legacy. Edie has had the opportunity to be a typical 5 year old and beat her "monster" as she calls it because of the treatment she received that was made possible in part to research funded by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. So many moments in the video bring about laughter as well as tears, although I'd have to say that my favorite part is when Edie's mom Emily says, "Our friend Alex saved her," which Edie echoes saying, "my life was saved."
To see and hear firsthand how Alex's life has played a part in making other children's dreams possible, is really something to celebrate and a gift that I cannot thank you enough for making possible through your ongoing support of ALSF. From the bottom of my heart - thank you.
And, as always, I thank Alex, for her life and inspiration. I love you and I miss you so much.