by Christine Lane
Late last fall, there was a knock on my front door and when I opened it and looked down, there stood tiny little Lilee-Jean, who at that point was a few months shy of her second birthday. She was with her mom and her great-grandma, who is a neighbour of ours.
As I had read a number of things about L-J in the newspaper and on social media, I had expressed an interest in meeting her, as like others, her story had captured my heart. She is every bit as precious in person as she is in the photos you see of her and she looked up at me, gave me a big smile and said “hello.”
This is not another story of Lilee-Jean’s journey with glioblastoma, but more a testament to how a community can come together and help someone who is fighting such a brave fight.
In viewing Lilee-Jean’s Facebook page and her mother Chelsey’s blog (www.loveforlilee.com), one cannot help but be in awe of Chelsey and how she is fighting for the life of her daughter with such grace, dignity and strength. Her words and thoughts belie the strength that she possesses and her struggle to try and keep her daughter’s life “normal” for the time that she has left with her.
I was also deeply moved by those who have given generously so that Lilee-Jean can enjoy every possible moment with her family. I do not know if these companies, and the people in them, realize how large an impact they have had on Chelsey and Lilee’s life.
I read of how on more than one occasion, Columbia Cabinets has assisted with expenses and how just a few months ago, they sent the family to Hawaii for a week so that they could cherish the time they have together and continue to make more precious memories.
I was astonished to learn that there was no connection. They had heard her story and quite simply were moved to help in any way they could. Dave Kish, GM of Columbia Cabinets said, “Lilee-Jean came for a visit and we fell in love. I pray for her every night. There are no words to explain. She is very close to all our hearts.”
Countless other organizations have done wonderful things – Jim’s Pizza in Chilliwack has twice donated a percentage of pizza sales, others have organized bottle drives, donated a percentage of sales commissions, donated a product or service, all in the hopes of easing the burden for this young family.
L-J’s grandmother said in an email to me, “The fundraisers that people have started, the outpouring of love and desire to help in some way is truly heartwarming, and incredibly helpful as fundraised money is Chelsey’s only income. It allows her to just live each day with her little girl, experience all the things that other moms of young toddlers experience. It allows Lilee to stay at her house, the only home she’s known. Our gratitude for this is beyond words”.
Lilee-Jean’s great-grandmother told me “L-J has brought out the best in so many people, and taught so many so much” – all of this in a few short years of living.
Chelsey recently wrote on her blog, “Andrew and I have compiled a realistic, relatively short and doable list, not only to fill Lilee-Jean’s life to the brim with love, laughter and magic but to keep ourselves focused on our now and not our later. “We have chosen to call it ‘Dancing In The Rain’ instead of a bucket list for obvious reasons, and if time allows, we will hopefully be adding to it as we cross things off.” As I reviewed the items on the list, I wondered at how many of us would take those very things for granted and not realize what a privilege it is to have the gift of time with your child.
Lilee-Jean continues to have palliative chemotherapy every other week in the hope that it will buy her some more time with her family.
As you read this, please take a moment to log onto Chelsey’s blog and if you are able to contribute in some small part to the Dancing In the Rain list for this precious little girl, please do so as so many others have done already.
In the past few days, the response to their Dancing in the Rain list has been truly overwhelming and offers of assistance quickly came pouring in. It is the hope of the family that this story may inspire others to reach out and help another family with their Dancing in the Rain list, as many others need love and support to help them through a difficult period in their lives.