By: Liz Scott
Today is my daughter’s 25th birthday. She isn’t here to celebrate with us — her last birthday with us was when Alex was just 8 years old.
The conflicting emotions that I feel today are inseparable from each other. Alex’s birthday is a reminder of the gift of her life and the ache of her absence. I feel gratitude and joy alongside grief and sadness. I carry the complexity of these feelings with me every day as I try to live my best life possible, just as she did.
Alex is not physically here, but her heart, her beliefs and her legacy are everywhere I look.
Alex had a pure belief in victory. It was a belief that did not quit even when her body did. Alex believed she could change things for other kids. At some point, towards the end of her life, Alex knew that her time left with us was limited. I think she accepted it for herself, but she never gave up what she could do for others. Alex did not back down. She never said it was too late and she pushed toward goals that, at the time, seemed unattainable; like the goal to raise $1 million for childhood cancer research.
When I am struggling with the difficulty of fulfilling this dream of curing childhood cancer, it is Alex’s belief in the power of all us — families, supporters, researchers, everyone — that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. She believed cures for children were possible. That belief never wavered.
And while today is when we celebrate Alex’s birthday, I also know that today and every day, children with cancer are celebrating more birthdays and milestones. This knowledge is what gives me what I need to take one more step, and then another and another, so that I can see the finish line in our future. Alex believed we would cross it — she believed in cures — and she believed the only way to cross that finish line was together.
Alex is at the heart of it all for me, as her mother, for Jay, as her father, and for her brothers Patrick, Joey and Eddie. Even though Alex is not standing here next to us, we have the gifts of experiencing her grit, her wisdom and her sheer refusal to give up.
It is Alex that invited us to this amazing mission 20 years ago. And it is Alex who drives us to keep pushing to cures for more children — the future that Alex dreamt of for kids just like her.
And on the subject of dreams, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that Alex’s 25th birthday also coincides with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. I often reflect on Dr. King’s wisdom and famous words, that darkness cannot drive out darkness, that only light can do that. It reminds me of Alex in so many ways, but mostly of her firm belief that we can make lemonade, and that anyone is capable of making a change for children with cancer. She once said to me, “I am happy for what I have. I am not unhappy for what I don’t have.”
I am so happy for the memories I have of my daughter and I am happy for the legacy she left us all. I am happy for the lemonade and the cures that will happen for children with cancer. I am happy for the complex emotions that keep me moving forward. And above all, I am happy for my beautiful daughter. Happy birthday, Alex.
Alex was at the heart of the fight for better treatments and more cures for all kids with cancer. She believed in the power of all of us to cross that finish line. Become a monthly donor today and you can continue Alex's legacy of cures.