Every February, DanceBlue rolls around the corner and captures the hearts of so many students, families, and the entire community. Kids battling cancer get up on stage and show off a talent that makes them feel like the superheroes they really are. Some parents talk about their kids who have lost their lives to cancer and other parents talk about their children who are looking cancer straight in the face. We all gather in one amazing event to show our support, our love, and our passion so that one day we will have a cure. We hold up numbers that don’t amount to the immeasurable support that our DanceBlue family provides these kids. For the donors, the dancers, and the volunteers, the marathon is the time to show their support and their one chance to be immersed in what it means to DanceBlue. For the kids battling cancer, the marathon is a time for them to feel that love and sense of community that each and every dancer represents. But for these kids, DanceBlue isn’t just a one-time a year thing. Their battle doesn’t stop. They don’t get to put a hold on their diagnosis. Their appointments at the clinic don’t end. For the kids, cancer doesn’t leave when the marathon is over. We have volunteers in the clinic every day during the school year, and even throughout the summer hanging out with these awesome kids and playing board games with them. We throw parties where the kids can come and be kids. When we go into the infusion rooms while they receive their treatment, we are supporting them in their battle. And that’s what being a part of DanceBlue is all about. Being a part of DanceBlue means playing “don’t break the ice” for three hours because that is the game that puts a smile on a kid while he gets his treatment. It means playing video games and getting beat every single time because they’re just that good. It means holding a kid’s hand while she gets her port accessed. Being a part of DanceBlue means being a part of a community of love and support.
This community is what made me want to get involved with DanceBlue and it’s the reason why I continue to DanceBlue. Every time I have gone to the clinic, I have taken away something different from my time with the kids. Some days I leave feeling grateful for the life I’ve been given and am amazed at how strong these kids are. Other days, I leave upset about how unfair it is that they have to go through this battle. There are a lot of parts of cancer that you don’t really think about at first. You don’t think about the fact that they can’t be around other kids depending on how their blood levels are. You don’t think about the fact that they can’t go to school because of their treatments. You don’t think about what it means for the rest of their family. But there was one day in the clinic that really made me stop and think.
I went to the clinic one day, excited to see the kids and the nurses and hopeful to play a board game. I went into a child’s infusion room and we began to play his favorite game, checkers. As we were playing, I was talking to his mom who began telling me about his birthday party from the weekend before. As she described the celebration it occurred to me that every kid deserves to have a birthday party; ones where their friends come and play, ones where the theme is based on whoever their favorite superhero or favorite princess is, and ones that have their name in colored icing on a huge cake. Leaving the clinic that day I realized what DanceBlue really means to these kids. For most of the kids, the people in the clinic are the only other people they get to interact with outside of their home. When kids come to the clinic, they always ask for the DanceBlue volunteers because we are friends with them. We play with them, we laugh with them, we distract them, and have a good time with them while they are receiving their treatment. I believe that makes a huge difference in a kid’s treatment and their success. I know I could never grasp what these kids go through on a daily basis, but I hope to be able to support them in their battle in whatever way I can. If that means losing at checkers 5 times in a row, or cleaning toys, or letting a kid put stamps all over my hands and arms, then that’s what I’ll do. Cancer is an everyday battle and DanceBlue means standing behind each kid in that battle all 365 days of the year.