Connecting The Dots

In my last blog I wrote about being in the Right Place at the Right Time. Well, this past week I experienced a continuation of the effect with the mottoes, ‘Connecting the Dots’, ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ and ‘It’s a Small World.’

As some of you know, I spend my ‘day job’ as a Human Resources professional. Last week I was able to spend a few days at a local HR conference. The conferences usually consist of breakout sessions related to learning and development topics, as well as Keynote Speakers. This conference was no different…

On the Thursday evening before the second day of the conference, Bryce was showing me a new book he brought home, a Star Wars – Jedi Academy book. I didn’t really think much of it. Bryce loves to read and these types of books are right up his alley.

That next morning (Friday), on the second day of the conference, I was debating whether I should go or not. I was so busy at work, and it was going to be hard for me to be out of the office another day. Plus, the kids had dentist appointments that morning…however, just as life goes on – I decided to go. Work could wait and I could trust my husband to take the kids to their appointments. And I am glad that I went as I experienced one of the most inspiring Keynote Speakers that very morning.

I was a little late as usual, or as I like to call it ‘right on time’ – I heard the introduction of the speaker, his name was Jarrett Krosoczka. In the introduction, they gave a brief bio, which included being an children’s book author and illustrator. This immediately grabbed my interest given our work on ‘Bear Hugging and Cancer Crushing.’

As Jarrett spoke, he was greatly charismatic and engaging. He had people laughing and also brought them to tears. During most of his speech, he talked about his road to becoming a published author and one of his greatest accomplishments of the Lunch Lady book series.jjk2 jjk

While he spoke about the Lunch Lady, it became so relatable to what Eric and I are trying to do with Cancer Canknot and our book, Bear Hugging and Cancer Crushing. The Lunch Lady became more than just a book series, but a way to inspire many others on the importance that everyone has a purpose – including the lunch lady. It has expanded to be much more than just a book….

As I sat there and listened I began to think of all the things that we have done and what more we could do with our book and help the healthcare and cancer community – it was just the inspiration I needed.

At the end of his speech, he talked about a few other projects that he was involved in and as I looked at the marketing flyer, one of them caught my eye – he was the author of Jedi Academy – A New Class, that very book that Bryce brought home the day before… everything happens for a reason….what was the reason Bryce picked the Jedi Academy book – coincidence?

As I looked for follow him on social media, I was reading through his Twitter posts. One of them mentioned the loss of Anna Dewdney, as it seems the two of them shared the same publisher. For any of you with children, you probably know Anna  from the Llama Llama book series. What you may not know is that Anna, lived in a Southern Vermont town called Chester, Vermont – the same town that I grew up in….what a small world.

When Eric and I first wrote our children’s book, we had reached out to Anna to illustrate it. We told her our story and that it was inspired through Eric’s diagnosis with brain cancer. Anna was unable to illustrate it at the time, given some of her other commitments, but she wished us great luck in the process.

On September 3rd , Anna Dewdney passed away from a 15 month battle with brain cancer.

So on that Friday morning, with what started as uncertainty in attending the seminar, fully turned inspiration of ‘Everything Happens for a Reason and It’s *such* a Small Word. It was that very day that I connected so many dots, personally and professionally.

Through my inspiration I have been invigorated and know that we are trying to do with Cancer Canknot has a purpose, and I can only hope that one day our story will be as inspiring to someone else as I felt on Friday morning, September 9th.

 

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(My Selfie with Jarrett)

Game Day

While it will become obvious within the first few lines of the blog post, I should clarify that this one is being written by Anna.

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With that said, last Sunday was one of the best days of my life! If any of you know me, you know that I am a huge PHILADELPHIA EAGLES fan. And well, Eric, unfortunately for him…he is a New England Patriots fan. When the 2015 Football Season Schedule was posted and  we saw that the Eagles were going to be playing in New England, which is something that rarely happens as they are in different conferences, we knew we had to go. So, for Eric’s birthday, I bought him tickets….but in the end, I think the gift actually ended up being for me.

It worked out that we were able to sit 8 rows from the field behind the Eagle sideline. There is nothing like being so close to the action. Like many Eagle fans, we are passionate about our team. We will cheer, we will chant, we will sing, and we will even BOO when the Eagles are playing. Being on away turf didn’t change that. I wore my Eagle colors proud, even in foreign territory – and oh, it felt so good!

The game started and I was excited beyond words. Something about seeing the boys in Green on the field gets that excitement flowing through your blood – you feel like you are bleeding green 🙂

Wearing my colors loud and proud made it obvious that I wasn’t cheering for the home team. For the first few minutes of the game – it didn’t look good for the Eagles, down 14-0, it was starting to look like a blowout, and then it all changed! Eagles tied it up by half time and the momentum was on their side! By half time, my mouth had gotten me in a little bit of trouble when someone dared to bash the then 4-7 Eagles, so I may have had to throw around a little comment on deflated footballs…and that just fired the fans up even more. It didn’t matter though, because the Eagles were on top of their game, and well, Tom Brady and the Patriots were NOT!

Going into the game the Eagles were the underdog…by A LOT, and they won 35-28! WooHoo!

We all know what it is like for an underdog to win. It just feels so good for those that are rooting the underdog on, and being able to prove the doubters wrong.

When Eric was diagnosed with brain cancer, he was the underdog. On December 20th, it will mark Eric’s 4th anniversary of being diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma. At the time of his diagnosis, he was given a prognosis of 6-12 months. Now, 4 years later he is a survivor, and to many, including myself, he is also a winner. If Eric is what an underdog looks like, then I will root for him every time!

Cancer Canknot Stop an Eagles Wife & Patriot Husband from Enjoying GAME DAY!

PS. Fly Eagles Fly 🙂

Our Most Precious Cancer Canknot

Erica Canknot1Before I was diagnosed with brain cancer, we always knew we wanted a second child; a sibling for Bryce, a little one to run around at the holidays, another little one to love. Even after given an initial prognosis of 6-12 months to live, we never stopped believing that we would have another child. I can remember at one of my first radiation appointments, the nurse was talking about some of the side-effects of the radiation / chemotherapy and she asked if we had any questions. Anna and I proceeded to ask if the treatment I was undergoing would effect the chances of having a child in the future. You could notice the shock on her face when she heard the question, as not many people fighting brain cancer are thinking about having a child in their future.

I was on oral chemo, Temodar, for a year. We waited a few months after my chemo ended to start trying for a baby. Not knowing the effects that chemotherapy had on my body, we didn’t know how long it would take or if it would even happen. Not too long after we started trying, we found out we were pregnant. Of course we were overjoyed! With us both being planners, we knew we would find out what we were having; would it be a little boy or girl?

As soon we found out that we were going to have a girl, we immediately knew what her name was going to be, our little

Erica Jane

Erica would be named after her daddy; and I couldn’t ask for a better gift. Erica Jane is our Most Precious Cancer Canknot.

Cancer Canknot Take Control

In my downtime, it is typical for me to browse popular news-based websites to catch up on recent stories for the day. Today was no different, as I finished my lunch I popped open the web browser and did a quick search on Yahoo. One of the first headlines to read was ‘Massachusetts Mom Beth O’Rouke Types Own Obituary Before Her Death. ‘ Purely based on the title, I was inspired to read more. Was the obituary the result of a cancer related death? It was.

As I read through the article and noted the heartfelt words she penned before she passed, I couldn’t help but feel emotional for her story. She was a wife and a mother to two young children. This was yet another life taken too soon from this disease known as cancer.

With our family having been touched by cancer, every time I hear a story of a person affected by the disease, whether it’s a story of a survivor or of someone who has passed on, I always walk away with some hope and inspiration. After reading this article, it was no different. In her obituary, Beth wrote, ‘Cancer loses grace and love wins,’ which is so inspiring .

In this story, it proves that Cancer Canknot take control. Beth was in charge of her life until the very end. And while I never met Beth, her story has made an impression on my life. My heart goes out to her and her family. Cancer Canknot.

Cancer Canknot Clothing

A big THANK YOU to everyone who supported our Cancer Canknot booster campaign. With your support we were able to raise $539.62! Your support has allowed us to send our first donation to support cancer research. For our first donation, we have sent it to Mass General – Center for Cancer Research. The Mass General Cancer Center says it well on their website: Every Single Day, Every Moment, Holds the Opportunity for Something Amazing to Happen. Eric is a shared patient with Mass General, so we hope our donation helps that something amazing to happen; Cure Cancer.

People are seeing you all wear your Cancer Canknot shirts around town and have asked us where they can buy one. We are happy to say that you can now buy Cancer Canknot clothing from our website! We have men’s, women’s and youth sizes/styles available.

Check them out at cancercanknot.com

BlueSSFront HoodedBlackFront LSBlackBack WBFront White Hood YouthBlackF

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, all! As we begin a new year, many people are devoted to making resolutions for the upcoming twelve months; and that is no different for our family and Cancer Canknot.

Last year was an exciting time for our family. Two projects that we devoted so much of our love and attention to, Bear Hugging and Cancer Crushing, as well as our jewelry line, Cancer Canknot, came to fruition. Also, on a personal level, we welcomed a second child in to our family – a beautiful baby girl, Erica Jane – named after her daddy, which just seemed fitting given Eric’s  heroic battle with cancer and his  devotion to our family.

Last year for New Year’s we resolved that we wanted to launch both the jewelry and book before the end of the year, to which we happily succeeded! Now that our work is out there, we are setting our New Year’s resolutions around bringing attention to our projects so we can help raise cancer awareness.

First, we want to inspire others with our story. We are making a resolution of putting ourselves “out there”, so that we can reach others also affected by this disease, and share that there can be positivity to this diagnosis.

Secondly, we want to strive in giving back to cancer research. When someone hears the book or references Cancer Canknot, we aspire to have our name known in being a funder in finding a cure for cancer.

Lastly, we resolve to achieve these New Year’s resolutions as a family. Through the diagnosis of cancer, we have found that friends and family are a big part in what gets your through, so it is important that family remains a top priority.

Thank you to all who have supported us and sent us kind words on what we are doing. Your love means a lot.

Cheers to a happy and HEALTHY New Year!

 

Our Inspiration

OUR INSPIRATION…..Three years ago our world was turned upside down when Eric was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma brain cancer. As a healthy 29 year old male, a loving husband and father to an amazing little boy – the news of the words “CANCER” seemed so far from the truth.

Since the day that Eric was diagnosed, we knew there had to be a greater plan as to why we were dealt this deck of cards and why we were chosen to battle such a monstrous disease. Then, one day we had an idea; an idea on how to pay it forward.  We had an idea to write a children’s book for families affected by cancer.  We have also created a jewelry line with a local jeweler who fell in love with our story and wanted to be a part of it.

OUR STORY BEHIND THE BOOK….It all goes back to the first thought that crosses your mind when you are given such devastating news; your child. At the time of the diagnosis we were the parents of a 3 year old boy and much of our time was spent reading children’s books to him. When you hear news as devastating as cancer you think; “How are we going to explain it? Maybe we don’t say anything?”

We have written a lighthearted rhyming children’s book, Bear Hugging and Cancer Crushing, to help explain to a child what cancer means. Children’s books are amazing and almost always filled with life’s lessons told in a way that a child can understand.  Children have many questions when they learn of a parent’s diagnosis, and everyone needs to find strength through what can be a trying time. Our son gave us strength in the best way he knew how, his bear hugs, which inspired this book. With so many people affected by cancer and many of those being parents, this book can benefit countless families – as it has our own.

ABOUT THE JEWELRY….Our Cancer CanknotTM Jewelry is custom designed to look like a cancer ribbon with a knot in the middle of the ribbon to symbolize strength and be a reminder of everything that Cancer CanknotTM do. When we approached Perrywinkles Fine Jewelry in downtown Burlington, Vermont they were inspired by our story and immediately stood behind the idea. From there, our partnership was formed.

We brought our design ideas to Perrywinkles and they were able to refine the jewelry pieces, so they were functional and most importantly…beautiful. Perrywinkles’ exclusively produces and sells all of the jewelry pieces.  We are very proud of our creation. Whether you are a survivor, a person battling cancer or a part of the support system for the person fighting the disease, you can wear this jewelry as an unspoken word to how you have been affected by cancer and what it canknot do.

We hope our life experience inspires many other families in need of hope.

Anna and Eric Gilcris