Guest blogger: Lisa Goodwin

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. What better way to learn more about childhood cancer then from the families and volunteers it affects? They will post throughout September, sharing their stories. First up is Lisa Goodwin, mom to Connor, a 13-year-old who was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was only 22-months old. After his treatment, Lisa co-founded Connor's Heroes. 

People often ask me why I still immerse myself in the world of childhood cancer, even though my son is considered a cancer survivor. It’s been 12 years since Connor’s diagnosis, and over 9 years since he had his last chemo. Well, I know that Connor’s Heroes is making so many families’ lives more manageable. I love it when I walk in clinic and see several children carrying their Heroes Backpacks. I’ve met so many incredible people that my favorite days are the ones I spend with our hero families. Then, there are the days when the cruelty of cancer is too much. I open up Facebook and read about the struggles of our most amazing boys and girls – cancer coming back with a vengeance, side effects from chemotherapy that are more dangerous and debilitating than the cancer itself, lost days of summer spent in and out of the hospital, flying around the country hoping for better options. The list goes on and on. It’s on those days when I have to dig deep and pray for strength; the same strength I used to get through Connor’s treatment. Yes, the world of childhood cancer rips my heart into shreds. It also shows me a world full of people who want to help. I started Connor’s Heroes so our local families dealing with their son or daughter’s cancer can feel the power of a community around them. People, known and unknown, who reach out to pray, to offer tangible support, and to remind our families that we are all in this journey of life together.

Because of childhood cancer, I know of a world full of incredible moms and dads who are inspired by their heroic children. I met one of my best friends when Connor went through treatment with her son, Owen – sometimes sharing hospital rooms. Cancer bonded us together in a way we couldn’t have ever expected or imagined. Even after Owen became an angel, our friendship grew stronger. Our story is not unique.  I've met so many moms who have forged deep friendships with other cancer moms because we've been there and we get it.  No one else quite understands.

As I look around at some of our families who are truly fighting to stay strong in this world with cancer – some for the second or third time – I am inspired to keep working to make sure that they do not feel alone and that Connor’s Heroes surrounds them with a community of support. I will continue to push for increased funding for focused pediatric cancer research to happen in Richmond right now. I will cry with my friends as they endure the world of childhood cancer. I will shout for joy as they say goodbye to cancer, hopefully forever. Cancer will never leave my world. That’s okay. I am incredibly grateful to our “community of heroes” who continue to be there to help us provide hope, guidance, and support to over 100 families each year.

Why not join me in building a world full of heroes? September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to sign up to volunteer. Join our world.