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The Accidental Advocate

What motivates people?

Why do some people have everything under control and are engaged in life while others seem to just flounder?  Is it genetics, environment or our experiences?  Motivation comes from our emotions.  Those deep feelings that bring us joy or sorrow, happiness or pain are the foundation for our behavior.

People choose spouses, company’s sell products and elections are lost or won based on the premise: what we feel determines what we do.  Life presents daily experiences that give us what we need in order to determine our life path.  Some people embrace it while others ignore it.  I personally have utilized my life in all its glory and sorrow to help me sort out who I am and where I need to go.

While there are some people who may question my motivation to embrace pediatric cancer I have found it to be my gift.  There is an old saying adversity does not define one’s character it simply reveals it.  I live by these words.

Living in the moment

When my daughter Alicia was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, I couldn’t imagine the journey I was about to embark upon. Living ‘in the moment’ and fighting with all my might to give my daughter her health and life, the world around me was changing and evolving.

My fierce passion to give other kids the support and assistance they needed was articulated by my then seven year olds wish that we can give other kids fighting cancer the same things she had, fun, excitement and hope.  The Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer’s existence is based upon the philosophy that the quality of one’s days is just as important as the quantity.

My motivation came from deep inside.

Those feelings of angst and worry translated into actions.  During the summer of 2003 while Alicia was admitted for a round of chemotherapy I was asked by a hospital administrator if I would speak at a fundraising golf outing about our hospital experience; an opportunity to tell a group of people what it was like to have a child with cancer.  I wanted the world to know how difficult and scary it was.  It was a defining moment in my life.  A captive audience of almost 500 people stood silent to listen to my story.  I was clear, focused and direct in my message.  Kids get cancer too and they need everyone’s help.

I touched them with my words and they touched me by their response.

Tears turned to applause and on that night an advocate was born.  I went back to the hospital that evening to continue my vigil next to Alicia’s bed but with a sense of excitement that our story mattered and people would listen.

Ten years later my Foundation is still plugging along, raising funds, awareness and expanding our mission.  Our story is pediatric cancer, but for others it can by anything.  We all have that moment when life hits you in the head and knocks you down.  Some may not be able to get up, but for others it gives us the will to fight and win.


Rene A. Fesler-Giacalone is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.