September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Interestingly it comes in on the heels of Hurricane IDA and here in Virginia, we received some heavy storms last night.

Power outages and downed trees, but nothing like what they experienced in the southern states.  But Disasters can come in many forms.

Our personal disaster came in 2016 when our daughter, Alyssa, was diagnosed with cancer. She was in 7th grade and just 12 years old. She enjoyed playing soccer and playing saxophone in the school band. She loved hanging out with her friends, she was very active and always on the go.

After a routine dental appointment, that lead to a visit to an oral surgeon, that lead to a biopsy, that lead to a week of waiting for results that of course would lead to what everyone thought was just some sort of infection, we received the words that no parent should ever have to hear.

“Your daughter has cancer.”

I still cry when I let myself remember that phone call.

Frozen, then numb, then making lists, then sending emails, then texts, then phone calls, then frozen…. The thought that kept running through my head was “how am I going to tell Alyssa? How am I going to tell her that she has cancer? How am I going to face her fear when I am so afraid myself?” That was a hard night.

That was a hard year. Alyssa faced chemo, radiation, more time in the hospital than at home. Middle of the night emergency runs to the hospital because she would spike a fever after chemo. She dropped down to 83 pounds and they had to put a feeding tube in her stomach. She was so sick and I was by her side every single minute. I only left her to go to church on Sunday mornings, and even that was difficult for me to do. I became her nurse and primary caregiver and I wouldn’t have it any other way or change a thing.

Our relationship grew one thousand times over that year as we relied on each other to keep going. Even through the tears, we had a lot of laughter and smiles also. Sometimes I find myself thinking how lucky I am to have had that year with Alyssa.

The good news is that Alyssa is now 18 and a freshman in college.  She beat cancer and is strong and vibrant and has such an incredible outlook on life and the challenges that she faces.  Her career goals are leading her down a path to be able to help other kids fighting cancer.  She is my hero.

So as September rolls in with thunder and lightning and causes natural disasters, think also of the personal disasters that might happen that could knock you off course.

Chuck and I were so very fortunate to have a support system that surrounded us and picked up the pieces that we had to let drop as we fought for our daughter’s life.  We had a team in place and others stepped in to help us run our business.  We are and will be forever grateful.