We wish we could refuse to accept the 2014 CTF Strength and Honor Award. The journey that led to this moment is not one we would willingly walk. As newlyweds, our expectations did not include having to accept a genetic diagnosis that carried lifelong consequences. As parents, nothing prepared us for how to cope with the diagnosis of NF1 for not one, but both of our children.
Our family's blessings and privileges are far beyond what we deserve. We enjoy the love and support of countless friends and family. We live in the shadow of one of the world's best medical research hospitals in the world. But at the end of each day as we tuck our children into bed, the reality sets in once again. There is no cure, no treatment, nothing that will take the word neurofibromatosis out of our vocabulary.
Those are dark moments that NF families know all too well. In those moments, we have choice to continue to live in the darkness of fear or choose to be a part of something far greater than ourselves and fight for the light of hope. This is what we have chosen since our son’s NF diagnosis of 2011. The journey has not been easy, and at times our faith has faltered, but being in the presence of over 1,200 people gathered at the CTF BeNeFit II in Detroit this past weekend gave us renewed hope. Somewhere in that room Saturday night, we pray the tipping point was present among the approximately $3 million dollars raised for Children's Tumor Foundation.
As we adjourned for the evening, CTF President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Annette Bakker came up to me and with fierce determination in her eyes said "we are going to beat this. I promise." I believe her.
There are dedicated physicians, scientists, and benefactors that believe a cure will be found in our lifetime. I know because I have met them and I seek them out. I want them to know the longing of my heart as a mother and wife. I want to offer them my deepest gratitude for their tireless efforts on behalf of my entire NF family, numbering more than 2 million worldwide. I believe in them.
We are grateful for the incredible hospitality we received from the Gilbert Family, for Dr. Bruce Korf and his nomination of our family for this award, and everyone with the Children’s Tumor Foundation for allowing us such a memorable experience at the CTF BeNeFit II. We were touched by the countless attendees that came up to us throughout the night to share how moved they were by our family's story. We hope that in our transparency, we can continue to show others that faith, hope and joy can exist in spite of the challenges of living with NF.