When you wonder: “what can I do?”, here’s something

“I wish Opa could come back”, Jilly said the other day at the table where we were seated coloring pictures.

“Yeah, me too.” Both Belly and I nodded our heads and kept coloring. Jilly says things like this all time.

“Are you going to die, Mommy?” This time I put down my crayon and looked at her.

I always dread this question. I want to say, “NO! I’m going to live a long, long life and die when you are an old, creaky woman”.

Except, what happens if I DO die? A car accident, a hair dryer falls into the bathtub, Freddy Krueger. . .all the creepy ways. Or, maybe just an illness like the cancer that took my father.

I tell her the truth—that I don’t know when I’m going to die, that no one really knows. She should make sure she loves the people around her as much as she can because we don’t know.

Then, jokingly, I tell her not to worry and that I’ll do my best to live until she’s super old.

This conversation came back to me this morning as I was catching up on Lisa’s blog. Yes, we all know we are going to die, but she KNOWS. She’s had to tell her two girls, the worst possible thing a mother must have to tell her children. You must check out her story and feel inspired by her strength and grace.

Her story has made me even more committed to a group I joined as a volunteer last year. The groups is called Chemo Angels, but before you click away with the thought that this must be the most depressing group ever, let me tell you about them.

Chemo Angels matches volunteers with a person undergoing chemotherapy. Volunteers can choose to send this person cards or small gifts to let them know that someone is thinking of them.

I chose to be a “Card Angel” and at least once a week (twice is preferred), I write a short note in a card and send my “angel mail” to a woman who doesn’t know me. I know only a few things about her: her name, age, type of cancer, her favorite color and that’s about it. I send her drawings from the kids, stories of our week, a few photos from our vacation, always ending my cards with a note of hope.

I never expected to hear back from her. This is a one-way relationship—think of yourself as bestowing little bits of hope and kindness to someone who may be scared and sick. I once received a note from a coordinator to tell me that L. was getting my notes and loved hearing about the kids.

Then I got a note a few weeks ago that made me cry. It was from L. telling me her doctor had pronounced her “cancer free”.

I plan to send her cards every now and then, even though she has officially “graduated” from the program. But I’m also about to sign on for my next patient. I’d like to get a parent of young children this time, so that the kids can send notes to the family as well.

It’s not enough to bring back my dad or to save Lisa’s life, but it’s something I can do while I’m still here.


Chemo Angels is free to join and raises money in very quiet, no-pressure ways. If you cannot volunteer your time, please consider making a donation so that their work can continue.

And, if Lisa’s story touches you, please consider donating to her family’s fund. The last thing they need to worry about right now are medical bills.


  1. I will be joining, and I think my MIL might. She has survived breast cancer. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Chicky Chicky Baby says

    Thank you for posting about Chemo Angels. I’ve been looking for… something. You know. Yeah.

  3. My girls used to ask me when my mom was coming back from Heaven and if we could go there to visit. Its hard to explain, that I believe in an afterlife. But somehow I have managed to let them know that she watches over us and that someday we’ll all see her again. But not just yet.

  4. Trenches of Mommyhood says

    Sitting at my desk sobbing…

    Do you read Angie’s blog?

    I’ll be going home to immediately hug Hubby and the boyz.

  5. Love learning new things about you and all that you do! Thanks for your neverending inspiration…in ways you may not even realize. Hugs.

  6. Thanks – my mother’s been in hospice for nearly 10 months, and I could use an outlet like Chemo Angels.

  7. Alex Elliot says

    Sounds like a wonderful organization. That’s great that you’re a part of it.

  8. What a great program. I’m going to look into it!

  9. Mama Goose says

    Thank you for telling us about Chemo Angels. I will check in to it today. I would love to help. My mother passed away from cancer nearly 4 years ago and I know she would have loved a program like this.

  10. Dysd Housewife says

    I made big fat button for Lisa. I put it on my blog. I will be posting about her, some other bawl inducing stuff, and my button tommorow. You Rock. Get my button. Put it on your sidebar. The more people that go to her site, the more that can donate to her fam.

  11. Fairly Odd Mother says

    Thank you guys so much for responding and I’m sure Chemo Angels will be thrilled to have reached a few more people.

    Mamalang: so glad for your MIL.

    Mrs. Chicky: I have to force myself to sound chipper in my cards at times, but sometimes that is all it takes to turn my day around a bit.

    Fab 5: {{{hugs}}} My dad is watching too.

    Trenches: Angie’s blog, OMG, heartwrenching. I can’t even imagine.

    CS: You too mama!

    Magpie: So sorry for your mother. 10 months is hard.

    Alex: Thanks for your note!

    MadMad: Thanks!!!

    Mama Goose: I’m sorry for your loss. I’m at just over 4 years with my dad and it is still hard. I do think of him when I write a card.

    Dysd HW: I’ll check it out! I’m sure Lisa will be pleased.

  12. You’re good people Christina. You really, really are.

  13. Mrs. Chicken says

    oh thank you for this, thank you.

    I’ve wanted to do something since my dad died, but I didn’t know what. No time for walkathons and not much spare change.

    But this is wonderful. As are you. Thank you.

  14. Thanks for this post. Good for you for being an angel!

  15. You are a good person. An angel, some would say. 🙂

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