Friday, April 14, 2017

Making an IMPACT

It was another entirely boring Mallory weekend. Phillip had junior prom with his girlfriend(senior prom is in 2 weeks). Last week we ran into to town to grab his suits( we figured with 2 proms and graduation-) he should have something nice he owns. I got a life insurance policy my 18th birthday- it didn't seem like a great present at the time- but I am grateful for it now. Phillip worked late the night before and slept in. I tried to save my energy for the pre prom dressing and picture push. Fortunately his girlfriend's family had most of the details figured out. We also had several performances with our dance studio- Impact Dance on Sunday.

Many moons ago- when Bella and Lily were itty bitty- they took beginning ballet with Ms. Marika at Kapolei Dance and Yoga. They loved it. I loved the casual family atmosphere and the proximity to our house.  We no more than started and were put on the cancer roller coaster with Lily. Dance was a bit of normal during a terribly abnormal time. Due to her numerous hospitalizations and neutropenia, there came a time we had to put a hold on dance.  Once she finished treatment and we all knew how much she loved to dance, we were ready to pick dance back up. Lily found her love of Hip Hop. This time we were around enough to make it to recital. In that time frame Phillip was diagnosed with diabetes and kept us medically busy.

A couple weeks before recital, I sat in the car waiting for the girls. I was waiting for the results of a breast biopsy. I got the call. It was cancer. Phil was out of town- I was sitting there by myself. I did not want to be the bearer of bad news, again. I called my mom. She said no matter what it was going to be ok.

The next time is a blur- appointments- craziness. This time of year is particularly rough- it's my cancerversary, as well as the anniversary of Bob and Dad's Deaths. Fortunately April- May is so busy with school events and recitals- we rarely have time to mope over it. There were surgeries- a major trip to visit family and back to the routine. Lily and Bella were both in school and I tried to consolidate activities for sanity. They did cheer and hula. But Kiera wanted to pursue acting. There aren't a lot of opportunities on an island and I honestly wasn't ready for the audition turn downs and the politics of theatre. We couldn't afford the time committment. I also was not ready for the sheer cost of it.

Then my cancer metastasized.  I couldn't take Kiera away from something she loved and I tried to keep up with the activity. I noticed she picked up choreography really quick and she loved to dance.  With 3 other kids and all their activities- we tried consolidating- but soon enough bella and lily wanted to do soccer. Phillip was in wrestling. There was only 1 me. Kiera no longer was giddy after rehearsals. Lily and Bella were expressing their desire to do their own thing.  I just couldn't get everyone to separate activities on my own. You might find this shocking to know there is a lot of drama in drama. After being told she needed more voice lessons, more dance lessons, more acting lessons, I finally made her choose her 2 favorites. Dance and voice won out. I looked around- the most feasible option for us for dance - Impact Dance.

It's been 2 years and I'd like to say that we hadn't had any cancer hiccups this go round- but we all know that isn't true. Yet Impact became Kiera's home away from home and she really has grown so much. She dances at least 10-15 hours a week and she comes home tired but happy. I see growth in her skills and her confidence. She is great with the younger kids. So much of this is due to her ballet mistress. Yet all the instructors are equally as tough and encouraging.

Ms. Alecia sees the good and brings out the best in the girls. She is tough, fair, and expects them to work hard, yet you can tell she is no stranger to hard work and tough situations. From the beginning, she's supported Kiera and our family whether it was rides to and from class or jut a few words of encouragement. The girls are preparing for the spring recital and the studio received a request to perform at the Smurf Movie premier. Ms. Alecia choreographed a very special piece featuring her daughter who is no stranger to rare medical issues.

Life is hard. Things don't often go as planned. Yet the impact of negative, tough times, shapes us into who we are. The sayings are true. I've never met a tough person with an easy past. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Sure you can recognize cancer patients by baldness, or a person with paralysis by the wheelchair. For every visible disability or condition, there are several you don't see. April is also Autism awareness month.

Just as many times I don't want to be seen as the cancer patient. I know many other don't want to be labelled, just understood. Easy tasks for some take huge amounts of courage and effort by others. In order to raise awareness and make an impact, sometimes labels must be applied but they are not the only things that define us.We define us.

I've always said if you can impact just one person's life for the better, you've been successful. In this time of social media and viral videos- there is the ability to connect to many, but how do we make an impact? We go back to the basics. We find what we love, we do it with passion and we share that passion with others. Ms. Marika and Ms. Alecia have done this for years for our family. I often use them as examples. You don't have to be on Broadway to make a huge impact. Both could still be performing at a professional level, but they are sharing their love of dance with the girls. They are making an impact.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)