Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the amazing women in our lives. We know that motherhood is an incredible experience. From the moment you lay eyes on your child, your heart swells with an indescribable amount of love. And it continues to grow with each member that you bring into the family. But motherhood is also a journey – one that isn’t always easy. Things will happen beyond your control, some harder than others, and you do your very best to keep the pieces together. That’s why this Mother’s Day Northwestern Mutual is honoring heroic mothers who have endured some of the hardest experiences that are imaginable – they are the mothers of childhood cancer patients.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tammy Bridegroom, one of these amazing mothers. When her daughter Phoenix was just five years old she was diagnosed with leukemia. Living two hours away from Riley’s Children Hospital at IU Health here in Indianapolis, she knew she couldn’t leave Phoenix. So Tammy and her husband made the decision that she would stay with Phoenix while her husband would stay back home with their other daughter. While splitting the family up was hard on everyone and extremely stressful, they both knew it was about keeping the focus on the survival of their child. Tammy described the situation as one of the hardest things she ever had to do – it was constant heartbreak. However, sweet Phoenix fought hard and Tammy said she even smiled everyday. After Phoenix achieved remission and her leukemia came back, the family went forward with a stem cell transplant as their next, and only, option of treatment. Tammy said she could describe Phoenix as being brave but that would be an understatement. Today she is cancer free and recently enrolled back at school, which was a huge goal of Phoenix’s during her treatment.
During my conversation with Tammy, she shared with me an astounding fact — there is no cure for childhood cancer. She said the treatments are archaic and toxic and there needs to be more research and better options for these children. In the United States, childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children who are under the age of 19. Yet less than 4% of the federal government total funding that is designated for cancer is spent on childhood cancer each year. As a mother these statistics are terrifying, especially since it is expected that 10,380 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in just 2016.
Luckily there are businesses and foundations that continue to work to support both the financial and emotional aspects of these families that have to experience childhood cancer. Northwestern Mutual Foundation is one that specifically launched the Childhood Cancer Program in 2012 to help increase the search for cures of childhood cancers as well as provide support to families that are battling this disease. For families in similar situations as the Bridegrooms, this program offers financial support for those who need to travel for treatments at select medical institutions in the U.S. The Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s Childhood Cancer Program raises funds and awareness through nonprofit partners, including Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which is a partnership that has helped fund more than 105,000 hours of research to advance the work of childhood cancer researchers. Collectively, Northwestern Mutual Foundation in partnership with its financial representatives and employees has contributed more than $10 million for the cause. They seek to make a meaningful impact through contributions that make long-term advances for its communities and non-profit partners. In honor of these heroic moms of childhood cancer patients, Northwestern Mutual and its foundation will donate $50,000 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in an effort to help fight against this disease.
The journey of motherhood is different for everyone – some experience a much harder journey than others. However, this Mother’s Day, take time to celebrate your heroic mom and thank them for taking this journey with you. Each step is a memorable one so take time to enjoy the precious moments together.
Learn more at Northwesternmutual.com