Sunday, January 09, 2011

What "Kick Ass" Means

I was lucky enough to be able to surprise my friend with a "Kick Ass" award tonight. Yes, it's a real thing. With a trophy and everything!

Here was her nomination:

As we live our lives, we each experience regular, lower-case “days”. We go to work. We grocery shop. We send some emails. We eat a sandwich. We hang out with our families. We do the stuff and have the somewhat unremarkable, rather forgettable experiences that make up the bulk of our lives. But then there are life-altering, stunning upper-case “Days”. A parent’s death. A child’s birth. The day we get married. The day you get laid off. The day you run your first marathon. These Days can be filled with joy and excitement or pain and terror, but they fundamentally change us and how we live our lives from that point forward.

My Kick Ass Award nominee, Courtney Moore, had one of those Days last December. Her daughter, Georgia, hadn’t been feeling well. She’d been fatigued and pale looking, but had no fever. This was odd because a) Georgia is one of those kids who hardly ever get sick and b) this funky feeling was lingering and so atypical. It was the holidays, and getting in to see a doctor was a challenge, but they went, thinking it was some sort of flu or virus. But it wasn’t. After a series of tests, Georgia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on December 30th—her 10th birthday. Two days later, she began her first round of chemotherapy.

Anyone who knows Courtney will tell you that she’s one of the most involved, supportive, patient mothers they’ve ever known. Her daughters (Georgia has a younger sister, Ivy) are her life, and making sure that their lives are filled with love, fun, adventure, and happiness is a job she is very, very good at. But even knowing that, I was not prepared for the amount of Kick Assedness she has exhibited over this past year as she, Georgia, and the rest of their family traveled on this unknown, scary journey.

Rather than let fear rule how she reacted to Georgia’s diagnosis, she instead chose to circle the wagons and fight like hell. Here are just a FEW examples of the efforts she led to kick cancer’s ass:
• She immediately started a blog to tell Georgia’s story and garner support:
• She formed “The Peachy Keens”—Her family “team” that was fighting with Georgia
• She had orange “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” wrist bands (a la Livestrong bands) made and sent them to whomever requested them so that people could wear them to support Georgia’s fight
• She led an effort to get comments from all continents on the globe on Georgia’s blog, and even got a comment sent from OUTER SPACE. No, really!
• She’s organized blood drives that collected 152 units of blood for Georgia (52 more units than their goal of 100)
• She shaved her head on LIVE TV to publicize an event at Dell Children’s Hospital called St. Baldrick’s, where people (including several more members of the Peachy Keens) shaved their heads to earn money for childhood cancer research
• She vowed to keep her head shaved until Georgia finished treatment
• She started a “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” group page on Facebook to let people know about blog updates and upcoming events and donation/support opportunities
• She met Will Ferrell (in town to host a celebrity charity golf tournament), gave him a “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” orange bracelet, and then documented him wearing it (which he was photographed doing…a lot!)
• Participated in the “I Ride For Livestrong” virtual Tour De France in honor of Georgia
• Threw an Amy’s ice cream party to thank friends, family and supporters
• And seriously much, much more

I could go on and on, but I think you already get the idea. In addition to all of the stuff I just listed, she was also by Georgia’s side at every treatment and every doctor’s appointment. She made sure that they celebrated every milestone and every test result that showed Georgia was winning her battle. And she also made sure that Ivy felt included and important throughout the entire year.

I only heard Courtney cry one time: It was on the phone the evening that they received the diagnosis. She was understandably freaked out and scared shitless and we sobbed together over how fucked up and unfair life can be sometimes. But once the doctors gave her a plan and a path to go down, she was an unstoppable force who never, ever, for one second let her daughters know that she had any fear whatsoever. All they saw was positivity, strength, and grace. She drew inspiration from the remarkable courage that Georgia showed each and every day and, as a result, inspired those of us who watched from the sidelines. And I’m happy to report that Georgia is doing great—she’s in full remission and started back to school this past fall. Her hair is growing back (so is Courtney’s), and they’re heading to Disney World for her birthday this year—a world away from where their family was December 30th of last year.

I have known Courtney Moore for more than twenty years, and during that time, she has always been kick ass, but this year has shown me how Kick Ass she truly is. I am in awe of her and cannot think of someone more deserving of a Kick Ass award than this amazing woman who I am proud to call my friend.

Love you, gal!


Jaye Joseph said...

Good thing I just washed my face or my mascara would've run. Truer words about her have never been spoken. Well done.

And fitting word verification: bravilly

I know it's misspelled, but it's cool dammit.

Anonymous said...

That is an awesome story.

I'm so glad it had a happy ending.

I can only hope if life ever throws me a challenge like that I would face it headlong like she did, while praying I never have to find out.

Thanks for sharing.