This post is by guest writer Emily Dyall.
Did you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
Did you know only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer?
Sad, but true.
I lost my 10 year old brother, Bennett, to colon cancer and then an inoperable brain tumor in September 2003. After such a traumatic loss at the age of 12, I struggled with PTSD, depression and anxiety. There is no “one size fits all” way navigate these feelings after watching your brother take his last breath. The following years were hard, but I went on to finish high school, go to college, met my future husband, married and started a family. After having both of my children, I still continued to struggle, but I can 100% say that the loss of my brother shaped me into the parent I am today.
I tend to remember even on the hard days when their fits and tantrums seem to never end, to give a little more grace and hug them a little harder. I appreciate their health and happiness. In November 2018, Owen (4) and I were in the car talking about toy donations for children with cancer. That’s when “The Bennett Project” was created. Our community, friends and family rallied around us and we had large Christmas donations to both Cardinal Kids Cancer Center and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I am proud to say we are now a 501c3 nonprofit that my kids are actively involved in helping with. The Bennett Project’s mission is to provide support to local families that are affected by pediatric cancer during and following treatment. Childhood cancer is painful to think or talk about, but it can also bring so many great people together to spread awareness. I hope my kids always remember the memories I share of Uncle Ben and care about others.
The Bennett Project has been therapeutic for me, but also a great bonding experience with my children. Appreciate those around you, because life is too short. “There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”
Emily & her kids
Emily Dyall is momma to Ava (2) and Owen (5). In the last 17 years she has helped raise over $500k for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Emily did an internship with Make A Wish MO, and went on to become the founder of The Bennett Project.