Can you spell "Neuroblastoma"? Should a 3 year old child have to have something you can't even spell? Suzanne was going to be my last day's hero because she has provided the most inspiration of anyone in my life - and she only was on this earth for about 11 years. However, Suzanne and her parents (subjects of a separate day's post) will remain indelibly planted in the minds and hearts of those remaining behind her. She's been in several movies that will remain (a holiday movie "Angel Doll" and a St Jude movie "A Time to Live") so at least on film she will remain. But much more importantly, her spirit lives on.
I met this young lady and her parents "by accident" (there are no "accidents" in the universe - always remember that) when I was in the Washington DC area. I had done my usual thing of purchasing too many tickets for a Shania Twain concert (always trying to get a better seat...LOL). So, I offered the extra seats to my friend who was the regional director at St Jude, Julie. Julie told me that there just happened to be a little girl and her family that might be interested. She contacted them and found out that the little girl (Suzanne) was a big Shania Twain fan. So we were all set. But Julie didn't let it go there! She contacted Shania Twain's agent and tried to get a meet and greet for Suzanne after the show. They said "no" because it was the night before Thanksgiving and Shania needed to leave as soon as possible after the concert. Julie was not one to be stopped however. She made more calls and here's how the universe works - she ended up contacting a woman who had just LEFT ST JUDE and begun working for Shania so this woman knew what St Jude was all about and what Suzanne meant to everyone. So she said she'd try. Julie and this woman pulled it off! Suzanne would get to meet Shania.
But wait, it gets better. You'll understand how remarkable this entire family is when I write another post about Jack and Barbara (Suzanne's parents) but I will tell you here that Suzanne's mom is in a wheelchair. Julie, Suzanne, Jack and Barbara came in and went to their seats which were way way back. I was up front and my friend was in another seat I had gotten for him way way up front. Next thing you know I see Julie and the gang moving along the aisle up to the front. Turns out they got very very front row seats because Barbara was in a wheelchair. I remember sitting there in awe at this little girl's good fortune - even if it was only for a few hours that night - a few hours with joy and not so much pain perhaps. I got to go backstage with them and watch Shania interact with Suzanne and there were tears streaming down my face as I saw the great big smile on Suzanne's face. Thank you Shania for doing that for her. That shows your true spirit too!
Suzanne relapsed twice after attempts at gene therapy - they had told her that if she made it 36 months she'd probably be cured and each time around 35 months she relapsed. But I have to tell you that I NEVER saw that child without a smile on her face. Every time something is difficult for me, I just think of Suzanne and I can go on. She endured about 8 years of treatment and not knowing what kind of pain and agony the day will bring. She didn't know what her future would bring - or if she'd even have a future. But you know what, she was always there for others - that's part of why she was the poster child for neuroblastoma and in the movies. Suzanne was so well known at St Jude's. When she made her transition Marlowe Thomas even flew in to speak at her funeral. How touching is that. This little girl impacted the big and important heart of the founder's daughter. Suzanne is my hero and the wind beneath my wings in so much of my life. She is always with me. I don't know why we were brought together but I am so grateful that we were.
Today you can go to the radio station's link to donate or you can honor Suzanne and work to treat so many other children at my St Jude Tribute Page for Suzanne. Of course you can always go to the St Jude website too - I'm partial because I have a goal for collecting an amazing amount of money in Suzanne's name which is why I am torn each year because when I give to the radio station it does NOT go into the Tribute for Suzanne - all that means is that all that money is not counted in her name. All of the money goes to the hospital no matter whose name it's donated in so it really doesn't matter I guess. I just want the world to know about this great little girl and how courageous she was. I want the world to be as touched by her as I was.
To my hero - today is your day Suzanne - and may every day be your day in the lives of others. Thank you for being the "Wind Beneath My Wings"