Anyone who knows me knows that I hate wasting money. When it is my birthday or Christmas, I usually ask for practical gifts of things that I actually need, not just things that I want.

When Elyse was born, I told myself that this was a moment that I could forget that we were already paying way too much for cable and I should double down and subscribe to Netflix as well. It was the perfect way to pass the evenings when I had to feed her or to allow myself some time to collapse on the couch, with Matt collapsed beside me at the end of another long day. 

My latest program that I am hooked on is Call the Midwife. I love how raw and honest it is and, having very recently had my own baby, it makes me reminisce on those early moments with Elyse and celebrating her entering into the world. 

The other day, when I could finally watch Season 3, I watched an episode where a young mom is convinced that there is something wrong with her babies and the nurse and doctors don't take her as seriously as they should. They agree that something is wrong but they doubt the seriousness of the baby's condition. As I was watching this, I felt my anxiety peaking. My rational brain knew that this was a TV show, but my heart knew that I knew this story all too well. And then the moment came when the mother looked at her baby and knew that something was very wrong, a pivotal moment when the baby's very life was in danger. I know that moment too. 

I used to be able to watch TV shows with such distance because these things never happened in real life. But then they did. Now I've lost that cushion of apathy and it manifests in many ways. I find that some of the manifestations are negative, like anxiety and worry that I have to actively convince myself is no longer justified, and some of the manifestations are positive, like appreciating my children in a new way because I came so perilously close to losing one of them. And then there are the tricky manifestations of the experience that we have lived through. Tricky because they can so easily be negative, but we try hard everyday to make them positive. 

One of those tricky situations came up a few weeks ago when Matt came home and told me, with tears brimming in his eyes, that one of the little girls in our church has cancer. Bad cancer. Advanced cancer. We know what it is like to live within the hospital system and the fear of our arms never holding our child again and now another family in our church is facing that same reality. Isabella, this sick little girl, was born just months after Lauren and now, only two years later, she has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Like Lauren's ALCAPA, the symptoms of neuroblastoma could be attributed to so many different normal toddler issues: teething, a cold, two-year-olditis. Like Lauren's ALCAPA, once symptoms serious enough for a diagnosis show up, it is often a hard battle to fight. Isabella is fighting, but Stage 4 means that the cancer has spread throughout her body. She is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation but there will be no easy outcome for her. 

This means hospital. Lots of it. One of the most amazing things about living in Canada is how our sick kids are taken care of by the medical system and we don't have to worry about losing our houses or all of our savings. But there are struggles all the same. Isabella's mom stays home with her and her dad works multiple jobs to make ends meet. They are a loving family but they aren't rich. Isabella's cancer means that her dad won't be working as he tries to spend as much time as possible with her and her mom as Isabella undergoes all of the tests and treatments and hospital time. Honestly, that time is worth so much more than money, but you you can't pay bills with it. 

Hoping to turn our tricky inability to distance ourselves from someone else's terrible situation into a positive, Matt decided to try to help them. He asked the mutual fund companies that he works with and some of his friends for donations of items like hockey tickets, art, gift cards and a tablet for an online auction. We created a website at http://caringforisabella.weebly.com/ that lists all of the different items and now we bring it to you.
Christmas is coming up and this auction is the perfect way to get some of your Christmas shopping done while helping a family that really needs it. If you don't see something that you want, you can still donate money to the family and every dollar counts. Of course it should go without saying that every single penny donated goes directly to the family but we want to assure you that 100% of everything donated goes straight to the Dooley family. If you are not able to help them with money, please help to lift them up in prayer. As much as medicine will help, at this point prayer might actually help Isabella more. Please lift Isabella and her family up in prayer. Pray for strength and healing and hope. They really need it.

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