For us, #GivingTuesday is about keeping my daughter, Taylor's, wishes, hopes and dreams to help children with cancer alive--and about keeping her spirit of "giving" alive. Taylor was diagnosed with cancer when she was eleven years old. We were completely and entirely blindsided. She was in sixth grade, extremely energetic, with chubby cheeks, often rosy from exertion on the playground, and big sparkly brown eyes, full of wonder. We hadn’t even the slightest inkling that she was sick. The shock of diagnosis gave way to the alarming reality that treatments for Taylor's disease were 40 years old. The government devastatingly underfunds pediatric cancer research.
Taylor was all about giving back and she was determined to make a difference. At eleven years old she founded “Tay-Bandz", a 501C3 non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding pediatric cancer research. She wanted to feel that her suffering was making a difference. We lost Taylor when she was sixteen years old.
#GivingTuesday did not exist when she was alive. If she were here she would be thrilled that a national day has been recognized as #GivingTuesday and that the holidays are not all about buying gifts. When she was nine years old she unwrapped her Christmas gifts without the slightest smile. I was disappointed at her reaction and told her so. She responded with a note, “I am sorry I didn’t acknowledge all the hard work you put into trying to make me happy but that is not what Christmas is about for me.”
I am truly ashamed to write this. She understood what Christmas was all about and I lost myself in a frenzy of shopping. Her life was not only about what she accomplished, but also about what she left behind. Her legacy lives on by her insistence on helping other children with cancer by funding pediatric cancer research. She continues to give back. We continue to fight in Taylor’s honor and will never falter in our commitment to children with cancer. We are keeping Taylor’s spirit, her thirst to make change, and her dedication to help others alive. While her life was tragically cut short, her mark on the world lives on in our family, in the foundation, and in children who have and will win their battles against cancer.