Written by Guest Contributor, Anna Day
Hello, friends! My name is Anna Day, and I’m an 18-year-old high school senior. As an only child, I began praying that God would “put two babies in my momma’s tummy,” and when God answered that prayer in 2011, we welcomed two baby girls into this world. I got to name one of my sisters, and I named her Isabella and her twin we named Jaclyn. Nine months after my sisters were born, when I was nine years old, my family found out that Isabella had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer.
When Isabella was diagnosed, it was like the floor dropped from under my feet, and I’ve just been falling ever since. I’ve grown up feeling alone in rooms full of people, because no one fully understood what I was going through. The only way they could was if they’d have to go through it themselves, and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
People rarely consider what it feels like to be a cancer sibling, and that’s why I believe it’s so important to share my story—because yes, our siblings are warriors against cancer, but cancer siblings fight the fight from the shadows.
While Isabella endured her treatments and surgeries, I stayed behind at my family’s and friend’s houses with Jaclyn. I felt like Jaclyn’s protector because while everyone was focused on Bella, I needed to make sure Jaclyn was taken care of.
Please don’t misunderstand me; my parents have been amazing at intentionally doing their best at giving Jaclyn and I the attention we craved. However, they needed to be with Isabella, I understood that, and I don’t have any resentment towards them. I know many of you may be struggling with trying to take care of your other children while also trying to help your cancer child, so please know that the very fact that you’re making an effort to focus on them does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
As my family began this journey, we were presented with a choice: wallow in our pain and suffering or keep our heads high and strive to make something good out of our terrible circumstances. I decided, along with my parents, to choose the latter. As our battle progressed, my mom and I discovered the disgusting lack of funding for childhood cancer research.
Only 4% of all national funding goes towards over 26 different types of childhood cancers. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children, and barely any money is going towards trying to save our future. I don’t know about you, but just writing that made my stomach turn in anger and frustration.
I decided that I wanted to make a change, and founded a non-profit called Anna’s Bake Sale Foundation. I’ve held annual bake sales since 2015, and I’ve raised over $60,000 for childhood cancer research. This has been my way of making something good from something terrible, and I hope that’s the decision you’ll make as well. You may be wondering how you can help. Maybe you’re thinking you don’t have time to start a non-profit, or perhaps you just don’t feel like that’s your “thing,” and that’s okay! You can still do good by simply raising awareness for childhood cancer. Share the statistics I’ve presented to you to open people’s eyes on the injustice that’s being committed against our children. If you want to donate money for research, you can go to my website: annasbakesalefoundation.org.
If there’s one thing you need to remember from this, it’s that when a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family is affected in ways that you may never understand and that focusing on doing good helps you find the joy you need in a terrible circumstance, whatever it may be.
Anna Day is a high school senior who loves spending time with her family and friends. She’s a drum major for her high school band and plays the flute, while prioritizing serving others and being involved in her church youth group. Anna feels very strongly about how important outreach and ministering to others is, and she does that through serving at Lighthouse Family Retreat, working with her own non-profit, and serving with her youth group.