Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

This holiday season gift your loved ones with some amazing presents from Alex’s Shop! We have something for everyone on your list. The best part—every purchase supports childhood cancer research. Here are ten of our favorites (and you can pursue the entire collection here, in Alex's Shop.):

This holiday season gift your loved ones with some amazing presents from Alex’s Shop! We have something for everyone on your list. The best part—every purchase supports childhood cancer research. Here are ten of our favorites:

1. Hero Puppy Holiday Gift

If you are like us and believe everyone deserves a puppy this Christmas, then Hero, the ALSF plush puppy, is the perfect item for you to gift. Ideal for little kids, big kids and grown kids, Hero comes in a special limited edition lemon gift box and includes a custom handwritten gift card (making Hero perfect for sending to a loved one far away). 

2. Donate Research

Have a loved one who literally has everything? This year, give them the gift of research! With research options to fit every budget (from $25 for 30 minutes to $800 for 2 days), you can sponsor cutting-edge childhood cancer research on behalf of a friend or family member. Plus, ALSF will send them a handwritten acknowledgment card and you can rest easy with the knowledge that your 30 minutes of research could be the 30 minutes that leads to a breakthrough. 

3. Embroidered Beanie

Pull your cold-weather look together with the ALSF embroidered beanie—available in blue, black or gray and with or without the pom-pom. The neutral colors coordinate with most winter coats and, of course, supporting childhood cancer research is always in style! 

4. Vintage Alex’s Long Sleeve Tee

Distressed in all the right places, the all-new long sleeve vintage t-shirt is perfect for every guy and gal on your list. Available in unisex sizes S-XXL, this t-shirt is just right for layering, snuggling and sharing your love for ALSF wherever you go!

5. 2017 Ornament

Destined to be a classic, the 2017 ALSF Holiday Ornament honors the 13-year commitment of Applebee’s restaurants to ALSF. The ornament design is based on a lemonade stand at the State Street Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Idaho. This July, over 1,000 Applebee's restaurants joined us in the fight against childhood cancer by raising over $1.3 million during their campaign, bringing their total to over $8 million for childhood cancer research. Perfect for your tree or your kitchen window, the 2017 ornament is a beautiful way to brighten any holiday decor! 

6. Slice of Hope necklace

When it comes to finding cures for childhood cancer, every slice makes a difference! Our beautiful Slice of Hope necklace is the perfect gift for the jewelry lovers on your list. Available in gold or silver plating, the Slice of Hope necklace is a constant reminder that lemons can turn into lemonade! 

7. Alex’s Table Cookbook

Featuring over 55 recipes from world-renown chefs, Alex’s Table is the perfect cookbook for the foodies on your list! The cookbook contains inspirational stories, a variety of recipes for everything from cocktails to entrees to decadent desserts. Beautifully illustrated, this cookbook is everything your kitchen is waiting for! 

8. Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand

Whether shopping for a teacher gift or a gift for a special child in your life, Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand shares the story of Alex Scott and the founding of ALSF. Illustrated by Alex’s aunt, Pam Howard, the book is filled with hope and insight on how one amazing little girl inspired a worldwide movement to cure childhood cancer. 

9. Crazy Socks

Our Crazy Socks are the perfect accessories for everyone! Available in Lemon Slice and Gold Ribbon designs, the ALSF Crazy Socks are ideal stocking stuffers on their own or snag both pairs for the perfect Pollyanna! 

10. Alex and Ani Zest for Life Bangle

This charm from our partners at Alex and Ani is a reminder that when life hands you lemons, you have the power to take positive action, sweeten the situation and make lemonade.The power to create a desirable outcome is always within reach. The bracelet is available in gold or silver (and pairs perfectly with our Slice of Hope necklace!). ALEX AND ANI will donate 20% of the purchase price* from each Zest for Life Charm sold to ALSF.  

Are you ready to get your shopping on? You can check out our full range of ALSF products at Alex's Shop and also shop with our Partners, here. Check back at Alex’s Shop on Cyber Monday (November 27) for 30% off site wide! (Excludes research gifts and print on demand cycling jerseys, running singlets, and long sleeve REC tees.)

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Lessons in gratitude from a childhood cancer mom

by Megan Roberts, Hero Mom

For some of us, gratitude is as true and as easy as the color of our eyes; for others, like me, gratitude takes work. Daily, sometimes hourly, often moment-to-moment work. And it starts by being present.

My oldest son Declan was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 3 years and 7 months old. I was also mother to Brendan, a toddler, and I was seven months pregnant with my third son, Tommy. A childhood cancer diagnosis could not have been a bigger surprise--or shock. I was prepared for having my hands full with three busy, healthy boys. But my oldest with cancer? A diagnosis I could hardly pronounce and needed Google to help me spell? How was I going to handle this?

At first, my husband, Bill, and I chose to keep the specific diagnosis, primary CNS rhabdomyosarcoma, from our family and friends because we knew from our own internet searches that the news was not often hopeful.  We wanted to direct the way people responded to Declan’s diagnosis because he needed only focused, positive, hopeful thoughts reflected back on him. So we chose to limit the information we shared about the diagnosis itself, and instead shared information about how GOOD Declan was feeling and how GOOD it was when we were all home together. We remained present in Declan’s goodness.

Then, Declan took over and he showed us how to be both present and grateful.

The name Declan is of Irish origin and it means ‘full of goodness.’ I learned quickly that Declan and his infinite goodness would direct us through his cancer journey. His curiosity about everything kept him engaged with his oncology nurses, even when the regular needle pokes made him cry. His playful spirit got him up and out of bed quickly after each brain surgery and kept him active and busy throughout his chemo treatments. His joy and his grace were boundless. 

Make no mistake: childhood cancer brings its burdens. If we hadn’t followed Declan’s lead, we would have seen his diagnosis as only a burden. But when we focused on Declan’s curiosity, spirit and joy, it became our own. It fueled our family. Being together was the best medicine for Declan, and when we were together, there was no burden. We rejoiced in each new day together. We graciously accepted each prayer, gift and meal delivered to our hearts and our doorstep. We remained present and we were grateful.

Declan died one year after he was diagnosed. And I will tell you, it felt like the light and the spirit of our family died with him. For a long time, it was really hard to find, feel and express gratitude. It was harder still to be present. 

This past October, I attended my first bereavement retreat. It was so wonderful; I didn’t want the weekend to end. Six and half years after Declan’s diagnosis and five and half years after his passing, I found my community of deepest comfort. I could be myself, in both grief and joy.  

No one stared, no one wondered, no one whispered. Not when I cried and not when I laughed. And that was the freedom that I was most grateful for: to share laughter--tears rolling down the cheeks laughter with the same people I grieved with just moments earlier. No judgment. Pure freedom to just be. My heart felt so good.

Cancer can bring profound hardships and burdens onto a family. No two families receive or carry their child’s diagnosis in the same way. And each family has their own experiences with gratitude. For our family, I am grateful for the grace that came to us with cancer. And it is grace that continues to bring peace to our hearts.

Sometimes gratitude whispers, and you have to push hard against the fear just to touch it. And sometimes gratitude swells so big and so deep inside that it lights up your face and falls out in a mass of tears. However gratitude comes to you today, know that you have the grace in your heart to feel it. 

A peaceful, happy Thanksgiving to you.

Megan Roberts is the mom to Declan, Brendan and Tommy and wife to Bill. The Roberts Family are active Hero Ambassadors for ALSF. Megan uses her unique experience to connect with other families, trying to bring grace during hard times. Read more about Declan's goodness here.

wo weeks before her birthday, an MRI showed that Lauren had a tumor on her optic nerve, a low-grade glioma. Low-grade gliomas are a type of central nervous tumor that arise from the connective tissue of the brain. When this type of tumor is on the optic nerve, it can cause visual disturbances and blindness.

Just before turning 8-years-old, Lauren failed a vision test. 

Her parents assumed a trip to the optometrist and a pair of glasses would correct the issue. But, it did not. 

Two weeks before her birthday, an MRI showed that Lauren had a tumor on her optic nerve, a low-grade glioma. Low-grade gliomas are a type of central nervous tumor that arise from the connective tissue of the brain. When this type of tumor grows on the optic nerve, it can cause visual disturbances and blindness. 

Lauren’s tumor was inoperable; doctors had to work to stabilize and inhibit the tumor’s growth in order to preserve Lauren’s vision. Her oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Angela Waanders (also an ALSF-funded Young Investigator grantee) stabilized the tumor with several rounds of chemotherapy. And it worked, but only for a year. 

At 10 years old, Lauren was back battling for her vision and her life. 

Dr. Waanders tried a medication called vincristine. Vincristine is a chemotherapy agent that has been in use since the 1960s. It works to inhibit cell division—and since cancer cells rapidly divide—the drug can be effective to stop cancer growth. 

But, it did not work for Lauren. Lauren was running out of options. 

Then, Dr. Waanders founded a trial that offered some hope. 

Dr. Waanders enrolled Lauren in a Phase II clinical trial for the drug lenalidomide. Lenalidomide was originally approved as a therapy for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. The phase I trial of the drug for children battling brain tumors confirmed its safety. In the phase II trial, effective dosing was tested. The trial was randomized—so some patients received high doses and others received low doses. 

Lenalidomide is an angiogenesis inhibitor—a type of drug that blocks the formation of new blood vessels. Tumors are reliant on new blood vessels to grow, so cutting off that ability should stop tumor growth in its tracks.

And for Lauren, it did. 

The trial stopped Lauren’s tumor from growing, giving her and her family the gift of time and stability, which according to Lauren’s father Patrick, will give researchers more time to work to find cures. 

“You have to believe in the research and eventually they’ll have a procedure or maintenance treatment that will allow her to live a normal life,” said Patrick. 

Today, almost two years after beginning treatment with lenalidomide, Lauren has stable disease. Lauren is not waiting for a cure—Lauren is fighting for a cure, as a regular stand host for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Together with her family, Lauren has raised nearly $40,000 for childhood cancer research. 

Read more about low-grade glioma and pediatric brain tumor research, here