In September Kyle's Kamp joined forces with other organizations for Pediatric Cancer Awareness month. We participated in various events here in the DC area and met numerous volunteers from around the country.
As usual, my favorite events to attend are those where we get to interact with the patients, doctors, nurses and families. I spent most of Friday, September 25th at the Northern Virginia Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders clinic with volunteers from Kyle's Kamp and other organizations celebrating the gaggle of superheroes that run around that place. I can give you some top secret information: If you are looking for the headquarters for all legit superheroes, that is where you will find it.
I learned, as I always do in that place, that the bravest and strongest spirits can shine through the littlest and weakest of bodies. The patients at the clinic were ecstatic - playing games and drawing pictures, decorating princess tiaras and coloring masks. Children dressed up as their favorite superheroes, had their faces painted and posed for photos with Captain America and the Ninja Turtle with the Purple Mask (Raphael? My boys would be so ashamed) There was a lot of laughter and a lot of smiling.
The stories of America's superheroes tell tales of saving the world from evil. Of taking down the bad guys. Of rescuing the weak. But I have learned way more about courage from this place than I have from any movie or comic book I might have happened across. Because unlike Superman, who can always go back to regular life as Clark Kent or Spiderman who can return to a normal day as Peter Parker, these little superheroes and their parents can't walk out of the clinic doors to go back to a regular, normal life. True superheroes do not have shields and fly through the air, only to change back to a carefree normality in an instant. They can't fluctuate between ordinary days and crisis modes. To me, the true superheroes are the children behind the face paint and masks that I met last month.
Bravery is not in the body of a muscled, caped crusader but in the heart and soul of a children whose bodies have betrayed them. These children have no choice but to be courageous, no choice but to come face to face with evil. Their parents have no choice but to put on a smile and pretend to be powerful as they walk headfirst into a journey filled with the greatest fear a parent can face. One little Ninja Turtle was on his way to get a spinal tap. One little Avenger was hopeful to go to school after his treatment, but likely wouldn't have the energy to make it the entire day. One little princess would stay later than she would've chosen, attached to her IV even after the snacks and crafts were cleaned up.
In regard to arguably the most famous of all superheroes, writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski said, "For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been America's hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for when standing is hardest."
Mr. Straczynski is correct that superheroes help us to believe we might find super power in ourselves. I find Superman in all of the children and parents I meet in this fight. They show me the most powerful strength, the most powerful will, and the most powerful compassion and make me believe that these things might just be within me, too. They are ordinary people who find extraordinary strength when they have no other choice. They do not wear capes. They do not fly. They do not lift cars into the air or scale the sides of buildings.
They smile when smiling seems ludicrous. They dance when their feet are sore and tired. They fight when the battle seems lost.
When it comes down to it, they simply stand when standing is hardest.
Jenn Skinner is a Christian and a Texan(Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient and funny husband and her 3 very impatient and funny little boys/ball players, She joined the fight against Pediatric Cancer with Kyle's Kamp in 2013. She also writes about just about everything and nothing and the ridiculously abundant life God has gifted her at her blog, The View From Behind Home Plate