We’re pretty tight in the Betty family. That means when one of our friends is nominated for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2014 Woman of the Year award and is aiming to raise $37,000 in the next 10 weeks, after we’re finished jumping up and down with excitement and pride, we say “what can we do to help?”. The answer, “spread the word”.
And so here we are. We want to introduce you to Kara Martin Snyder, a little lady with a big cause. Her $37,000 isn’t random. It’s to honor her good friend Pat who would have 37 this year, but was taken by blood cancer at only 26. Because Kara can tell her story much better than we ever could, we’ll let her do her thing. We know it’s a little long (she timed it, it’s a 5 minute read), but it’s worth it. And if you just want to skip to the song, and learn how to help- here’s the link to her fundraising page.
Nearly 10 years ago, I lost my friend, Patrick “Noodle” Newell to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia. You see, in the 3 years prior to his death, I lost 2 grandparents, an uncle, 2 aunts, a friend…and my dad after a breakneck battle with lung cancer. But Pat’s death was the last straw for me. You expect to bury your elders; it’s the natural order of things. You can rationalize that someone who unapologetically smoked for 50+ years would die of lung cancer. But Pat was my age. Hell, he was even a few months younger. His diagnosis just seemed so spontaneous, so random and so…scary.
I always griped about Pat being late, but sometimes his timing was impeccable. As I spent my last hours with my dad in hospice, I learned that Pat was home from California and going out for dinner. My oh-so-pragmatic mom nudged me to go see him because… well, I had to eat anyway. Plus, my dad never wanted us to see him die, so I knew that we also needed to get outta dodge and give him the space to do his thing. By this point, I was a subject matter expert on one’s inability to never know just how much time you have, especially when cancer comes a-calling. So, I went.
Bald head. Skinnier. We called him Noodle because he was so skinny growing up, but this was a different kind of skinny. There he was, being Pat in all his goofball glory with his gawky limbs wiggling. He worked in jokes about cancer like a polished comedian. Like a 4th grader showing off a double-jointed thumb on the playground, he flaunting his battle scars. In the midst of one of my darkest hours, seeing Pat living with cancer was exactly what I needed as my dad quietly trumpeted his last battle cry back at the hospital.
In Spring 2004, Pat needed some blood. We found out we shared the same rare blood type and that I had a trip to San Diego on the books so I happily obliged to donate some of the red stuff for him while I was in town. I still laugh about how many of our pre-trip phone calls ended with Pat suggesting I smoke some of the green stuff before I arrived at the clinic because his drugs were “just no fun”. He kept up that sense of humor (and fight) until the very end. Sadly, that end came in 2004. He was only 26.
Living in NYC, I was working hard in finance and playing just as hard. My dad’s death was the initial wake-up call that there was more to life than making money and whooping it up, but I hit the existential snooze button called hedonistic denial. With my own guts rotting slowly from my demanding lifestyle, Pat’s death was the swift kick in the ass that I needed. He was my age. He was otherwise healthy. It wasn’t some preventable disease. It could just as easily have been any of us. It could have been me.
If not for Pat’s death 10 years ago, I’m not sure how much longer I would have procrastinated making the big, scary, honest changes that I needed to make. The slew of loss I endured before that primed me, but Pat’s death triggered action. Without the last 10 years, I wouldn’t have figured out what kind of person I want to be and what sort of bright, shimmery stain that I want to leave on this revolving ball of mud. I wouldn’t have healed my angry guts, sloughed off my “responsible” yet unfulfilling career or fallen in love. I wouldn’t have a new, energizing, soul-smooching business inspiring and supporting other women who want to fiercely make their own big, scary changes.
It’s because of that work and unrelenting passion that I have been nominated for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2014 Woman of the Year award. The nod is truly an honor for which I’m incredibly grateful. But to BE named the Woman of the Year, it takes a village. I can’t do this alone. I need your help.
Every $1 raised is a vote for me in a 10-week, blind, fundraising challenge to benefit the tireless work of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who wisely invests 78% of money raised back into research, education, and patient services.
This campaign is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to honor a friend who will never really know the gift he gave me and to prove that a little lady from a little town can make a big stand against cancer.
So, let’s go big or go home. Being a goal-setting, competitive little pixie, I’m asking that you help me inspire 1000 people to donate at least $37 between March 13th and May 22nd. That’s not very much time.
Now, I don’t roll with The Rockefellers or gab with The Gates, but I know a bunch of big-hearted people that could spare at least $37 to:
- Honor Pat, who won’t get to see his 37th birthday this year
- Cover a patient’s transportation expenses to a comprehensive care center for treatment
- Provide free, up-to-date booklets to help the newly diagnosed make educated and informed decisions about their treatment
- Supply researchers with materials critical to carrying out their search for a cure
- Cast 37 votes for me as LLS’ 2014 Woman of the Year
- Bask in the awesomeness of your act of do-goodery
Yup, $37,000 is audacious, but it’s downright figureoutable if we all pitch in. So, please think of the last thing that you spent $37 on. Then think of what you would pay to see someone you care about live another 10 years of their life without cancer. What’s that sweet spot amount that would leave you feeling like you poured some awesomesauce all over this day? Then, make it happen.
Are you ready to help a sister out? $37 is a suggestion, but give what you feel comfortable with. It may be more, it may be less, or it may just be time, or a donated auction item. Any way you look at it, the Betties are grateful, Kara is grateful, and so are the people whose lives you’re making a difference in.