by Ashley Wright

September used to just mark the beginning of football season, pumpkin flavored everything, my dad's birthday, and hopefully cooler weather. I didn't know it was CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH until CHILDHOOD CANCER hit my family in 2014. Once it does hit your family and someone you love, every day is a reminder of the big, nasty C-word that seems to effect more and more people as each day passes. But I'm 35 and I've lived a great life, done everything I've had a chance to do so far, and had a million amazing memories. Cancer shouldn't be allowed to rob a precious, innocent child of their childhood, the day-to-day things you and I take for granted, or the potential for problems that could arise later in their lives, known as "late effects" from the treatments they receive to stop the cancer.

If you don't know my story, let me tell you. I'm lucky enough to be an Aunt to an amazing, vibrant, smart, loving, funny, sweet, precious little girl named Calleigh. She entered this world on February 27th, 2010 and from the moment I heard her first cry, I was in love. Over the years, she continued to amaze me time and time again with how smart she was, articulate, and fun! I was so excited when she was old enough to go places with me and spend the night.......she was just fun to be with and spoil. And boy is she easy to spoil! She and I are known for our Target runs where whatever she puts in the buggy, she gets. I can't tell her no!! :)

Tuesday June 24, 2014 she was diagnosed with a brain mass that was blocking the ventricles in her brain from draining properly. Thursday June 26, 2014, she underwent her first surgery where an egg sized tumor was removed from the cerebellum of her brain and was later confirmed to be a medulloblastoma. Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumors in children, making up about 20%. What was so alarming to me was that she was perfectly normal until about 2 days before her tumor was found. And even then, her symptoms didn't scream "she has a brain tumor". It wasn't anything that crossed our minds.

Since her diagnosis, she has undergone the following:
31 radiation treatments to her brain and spine (the maximum amount a child her age could receive)
8 rounds of chemotherapy, with each round lasting up to 6 weeks in length
2 more brain surgeries
Countless doctor appointments
Countless appointments for therapies she receives: occupational, physical, and speech
Numerous transfusions of red blood cells and platelets

Amazingly through all of this, CALLEIGH has been more of a fighter than I could ever hope to be. Sure, she has struggles, but she looks each day in the face and kicks it's butt. She graciously puts on her jewelry that coordinates with her outfits each day, a matching headband, grabs her bookbag and head off to kindergarten like every other five year old. But sadly, she's not like every other five year old.

On the day of her diagnosis, she was ONE OF THIRTEEN CHILDREN TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH A CANCEROUS BRAIN TUMOR THE SAME DAY. Each day that she receives treatment, she is ONE OF FORTY OTHER CHILDREN FIGHTING CANCER THAT SAME DAY. And every time federal money is handed out for cancer research, only 4% goes to Children's cancer research initiatives.

Calleigh loves everything Princess related, including the many crowns she has. In honor of her strength, determination, poise, grace, and the love that I have for her and hopes for her future, I'm raising money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation by calling my campaign, Crowns for Calleigh in conjunction with September's Go Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Donate Now!I hope you will join me in the fight against one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. Your donation is fast, secure and easy to make an online gift by clicking the donate button on my page. Every little bit helps. Whatever you can give will put me closer to reaching my goal and will make a difference to a child facing the challenges of a brain tumor.

Your support gives children with brain tumors, our Shining Stars, hope for a brighter future. The kids couldn’t do it without you!

Other Organizations for Donations: ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

* CURE is an Atlanta, GA based non-profit that focuses solely on cancers that effect children. 87% of all money they raise goes to one of the following: research for targeted therapies (to only attack cancer cells, leaving the health cells in tact); clinical research; training of future pediatric oncologists and researchers through the fellowship program at Emory University School of Medicine (young scientists often leave the field of childhood cancer research because of the lack of support from federal funding opportunities); and programs to assist patients and their families including outreach, financial assistance, transportation, and counseling.

Organization's Webpage:
Donation page:

* GREENVILLE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL is another close to home organization for BWRC is this amazing Children's hospital. This is where Calleigh Wright has received all of her treatments, surgeries, etc since her diagnosis in June 2014. Please read about the services they provide to South Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Georgia's children and their families. There are several options for you to donate, depending on what interests you the most.

Read about the hospital:

Donate: If you click on the "Donate Now" box, you can donate to any area in the hospital. The "Children's Service" drop down applies to Children's Hospital areas. You can then specifically designate your money to go to: Bi-Lo Charities Children's Cancer Center. This Center and the nurses and doctors that work here are phenomenal. There is nothing like visiting an area of the hospital designated to children who are all hooked up to IV's, trying to be as normal as possible, and bald from the horrific drugs coursing through their veins. Sometimes the same kids are there when Calleigh goes back in for treatments and other times, a newly diagnosed kid shows up with their family and the look of sheer fear is evident on their faces. The entire team from social workers, nurses, doctors, therapy dogs and their owners...everyone has been amazing. You can give to make sure that kids continue to get whatever it is they need.

Other ways to donate: Virtual Toy Drive, Bricks in Honor of someone, etc. There are countless ways.

* SMILE.AMAZON.COM SHOPPING on Amazon is simple. They have everything you could ever need and more. Now, it's ever easier to give back to a charity you believe in. Click on the link to go to the webpage and pick a charity for a percentage of your purchase to be donated to. A list of charities that BWRC supports and has a special place for are the following:

Center for Developmental Services (Make sure it says Greenville, SC and 1999 as Incorporation Year): this facility is a partnership between several organizations to offer a variety of developmental and rehabilitative services to children throughout the Upstate of SC. Calleigh Wright receives physical, occupational, and speech therapy from service providers located here. Not only were these providers caring, loving, and instrumental in bringing the Princess back from multiple brain surgeries, but the countless other children that are served here each day also need to ensure their services continue. From seeing children with Down's Syndrome, burn victims, or birth defects receiving treatment at this facility, it is a fantastic organization to give back to.

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF) Located in Asheville, NC, the PBTF is the world's largest nonprofit funder of childhood brain tumor research.



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