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Exec Letter: Liz Fitzgerald

Cancer. It’s a word that can completely wreck a family’s world. It’s a word that can test your faith and bring you great fear. It’s a word that no parent, no sibling, no grandparent wants to hear. I know exactly how it feels to be the family member who sits in on chemotherapy, countless surgeries, and radiation treatments. I know all too well how it can take your all too perfect life and destroy everything you know. Life-threatening illness truly does test your faith and shows you who has your back through this terrible journey. For the children and families receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses the support is UNI Dance Marathon.

Eight years ago, for the first time in my life I found out what it was like to lose hope in this world. Eight years ago a doctor looked my mom, my younger sister, and I straight in the eyes and said, “the test results came back positive, you have stage 3B breast cancer”. For those of you who don’t know what stage 3B cancer means, it means that the cancer is fast spreading and if not addressed soon could become terminal. For the next year I watched my mom lose her hair, become very weak and ill, and very down on herself and life all together. I witnessed her receive some of the strongest and harshest chemotherapy treatments along with radiation. We weren’t given hope. We weren’t given much support other than our family. We were a cancer family and that was that.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college and I heard of student organization that gives children the hope that my family had longed for during my mother’s cancer journey. That student organization is Dance Marathon. I soon found it provides hope to the families in their darkest days and love on some of the best days. Throughout college I have fallen in love with helping the kiddos and their families find this hope.

This year, I experienced what it has to have your all too perfect life fall apart once again. 7 years after my mom had had her last radiation treatment, my mom was diagnosed with another form of breast cancer. The cancer didn’t come back, but instead a completely different type of cancer. That is when my world started to fall apart. This time I found the hope. The hope that I needed eight years ago was right in front of me. The hope was the kiddos. The kiddos that I see fighting illnesses that are more rare than a new form of cancer. Their siblings were my hope. They are the hope to know that it is possible to be strong when your family member, who you love so much, is very sick. I found hope in their parents, because the parents always have hope that cancer will never be a word they need to hear again.

When most people think of Dance Marathon they think we give hope to the kiddos, which is 100% true, but what most people don’t know is that they give us hope also. They give us hope to be better people by doing more for others, loving so deeply, and being a part of a movement that fights for the next generation. Each day I am thankful for the hope that I give to the kiddos and thankful for the hope that the kiddos give to me.

Everything FTK,

Liz Fitzgerald

Director of Development

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