Staci is one of our amazing ambassadors and when she asked me if we could support The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation this month, I immediately said yes! I'm so grateful for Staci and that I'm able to use my company to support a very personal cause such as this one. Please read on for Staci's touching story! At the end of this month, we'll be donating 10% of all sales to The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation in honor of Marie Speece!
On April 10, 2001, I was just a normal 4th grade girl getting ready for school when I saw that my dad wasn't ready for work. Confused, I asked my stepmom why he was still home and she said "Oh, he's just being lazy." I carried on with my morning routine and bopped my way downstairs to eat breakfast. My dad was sitting on the couch and asked me to come over to sit with him. When I sat down next to him, he reluctantly told me something that would change my life forever.
"Mommy passed away last night."
At 10 years old, I remember getting up to look at the calendar on the fridge. April 10th. Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked at my dad. "But Danielle's birthday is tomorrow!" And from that moment on, the tears would not stop for hours. My older sister was turning 15 the next day, I had just turned 10, and my oldest sister had just turned 18. We were all babies and we were all about to embark on a journey that affected us all so differently growing up.
To rewind, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August of 2000. She was diagnosed way too late didn't even make it a full year before she lost her battle. She was 40 years old.
My mom was my best friend and now, at 25, I always wonder what our relationship would be like. I went through the most critical years without my mom and it has certainly had a massive impact on who I am as a person today!
I spent my middle school and high school years working my butt off to make her proud!
I got myself ready for my high school proms and received my high school diploma with someone missing in the audience. I even asked my entire family not to utter the words "Your mom would be so proud of you" that day because if I heard those words, I knew I wouldn't make it through the ceremony.
I had a few good friends who had lost their moms years after I lost mine, but being a motherless young lady left me on a path that not many will understand until years from now. I lost a lot of friends because of it. Depression started to take over in my college years, and it was then that I really tried to do things to make my mom's memory alive for everyone who loved her, not just me!
I started running in the Teal Ribbon 5k on Memorial Day Weekend in Philadelphia, creating a team each year named Team Bizness. My mom's nickname was Biz, because she loved being in everyone's business! :) Sometimes I had some friends participate with me, other times I was a team of one. But I made sure to spread "teal" around with me.
When I started student teaching in my senior year of college, I asked everyone to wear teal on April 10th, to help me remember my mom and to help spread awareness of ovarian cancer. It's called "The Silent Killer" because it takes so much time for doctors to give a diagnosis that it is sometimes too late.
Slowly but surely, awareness among family and friends started to spread and now, every September (Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month) I have friends from all over the country sending me pictures of what their hometowns do to honor those women who are effected by this disease! It warms my heart and helps me think I'm doing something to tell my mom "I haven't forgotten you."
This year, I was introduced to the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation, which is also based out of Philadelphia. On April 23rd, I will be running in my first 5k with them, in memory of my mommy and in honor of all the women who are fighting now (and those who will have to fight later). This year, April has been my month of teal!
As I write this, I get ready to remember the day, 15 years ago, that I woke up to a changed life. At that moment, although I didn't know it yet, I would be the rock for many of my friends who would go on to lose parents. I would be the one who took everyone under her wing when their beautiful mothers became angels. I have become a mentor to my young high school students who sit in my own shoes.
I have continued to live for my angel mother and do something every year to remember her in a big way! She is constantly on my mind and I know she is with me every step of every day.
But my goal for my participation in the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation is to help ensure that no little girl ever has to wake up and hear that their mom is now an angel. That no little girl ever has to dress herself for proms, have high school and graduation pictures that are missing that important leading lady, get married to the love of her life without her best friend holding her hand, and to bring her own children into this world while the absence of her first love is felt.
When you buy THINK gear this month, YOU are helping another woman in her journey! YOU get to help us move toward a world where TEAL doesn't have to stop and grab people's attention!!