Posted in Guest Writer, Perspectives on Cancer

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #27: Cookies for Kids Cancer, Do Whatever It Takes

[In the United States alone in 2007], approximately 10,400 children under age 15 were diagnosed with cancer and about 1,545 children will die from the disease.  MORE Childhood Cancers Fact Sheet, Cancer Topics,





Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a 501(c)3 non profit, was founded by parents inspired by their son Liam’s battle with cancer. They were shocked to learn that the main reason over 25% of kids diagnosed with cancer do not survive is because of a lack of effective therapies. And the reason for the lack of therapies was very simple: lack of funding. They pledged to support the development of new and better treatments by giving people a simple way to get involved.

It all started with 96,000 cookies…

Gretchen had a crazy idea for a larger-than-life bake sale with the goal of baking 96,000 cookies with friends and volunteers. Dozens of other families whose children were also battling Neuroblastoma got involved and began to take orders for cookies from friends, co-workers, and neighbors. All 96,000 cookies were sold in three weeks, thanks to the work of over 250 volunteers. The event raised over $400,000 for pediatric cancer research, but it was soon clear that something bigger than a bake sale had begun. Even weeks after the event was over, requests for cookies kept coming in. What started as a desperate act to raise money and awareness for her child’s own cancer blossomed into something much bigger than any had planned. The event caught the eye and the hearts of the media and people all over the country. Emails from across the United States started flooding in asking the same simple question “what can we do to help?”

Be a Good Cookie

Make a difference by joining the mission to find a cure for pediatric cancer. There are many ways to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Hosting a bake sale is a sweet and simple way for people everywhere to get involved in the fight against pediatric cancer. Send our cookies for birthdays, anniversaries, or just because. Our cookies taste as good to eat as they feel to give.

And you don’t have to eat or bake cookies to be a Good Cookie. Other supporters have run marathons, held tag sales, organized golf tournaments, collected spare change, and hosted car washes to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We’ve even made it simple to donate online once or once a month with online giving. The ideas are only limited by your imagination. No effort is too small and every penny counts.

Our mission:

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is committed to raising funds to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 18. Through the concept of local bake sales, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer provides the inspiration and support for individuals, communities, and businesses to help fight pediatric cancer. 

Facts about Kids’ Cancers

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is not about one child or one type of pediatric cancer. It is about changing the facts of pediatric cancer for the better, forever. Important statistics to know:

  • Cancer claims the lives of more children annually than any other disease ” more than asthma, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis & AIDS combined.
  • 46 children per day are diagnosed with cancer totaling nearly 13,000 new cases per year.
  • Cure rates have improved dramatically and advances in childhood cancer research has provided seminal insights into the cancer problem in general. Today, 4 out 5 children diagnosed with cancer can be cured.
  • While long-term goals for the pediatric cancer community will focus on securing more federal funding for childhood cancer research (more than the 1-2% of the National Cancer Institute budget that is current expended), philanthropy plays a critical and essential role in the ongoing battle against childhood cancer.

About the Founders

Gretchen and Larry Witt founded Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2008, just a few short months after the success of their first cookie sale during the holidays 2007. Their efforts have always been inspired by their son Liam who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2007 at the age of 2. Tragically, Liam came to the end of his courageous 4-year fight with cancer on January 24, 2011 at the age of 6. Though devastated by his loss, the Witts remain more determined than ever to continue the fight against pediatric cancer.

Gretchen Witt has been recognized nationally for her leadership as a mom on a mission. In 2010, Witt was named one of Woman’s Day Magazine’s 50 Women Changing the World and Traditional Home Magazine’s Classic Woman of the Year. She was also featured in the December 2009 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, for her work with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. She accepts speaking engagements to tell the story of the beginnings of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, the need for funding for pediatric cancer research, and to share her experiences as a mother fighting endlessly for her son and for all children. Her story resonates as one of determination and guts with a willingness to stop at nothing to do what’s right and what’s best for all kids fighting cancer. Audiences as varied as The Cornell Club NYC, Meredith College’s 2010 Commencement and the International Housewares Show in Chicago have all been inspired by her words and her passion.

Feature photograph and article courtesy of

Video upload to YouTube by 

Posted in Guest Writer, Perspectives on Cancer

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #14: With Heart Divided


Excerpt from With Heart Divided



Donna Swanson

What do you say about dying?  Holding a hand that is already like a skeleton with skin stretched over it?  Standing in back of his lounge chair and putting your hands gently on his shoulders for fear of hurting him?  Kissing the top of his head where only a few strands of those once thick curls remain?  Saying, “I love you.” trying to make up for all those times you did not say it before?

On the night before our son, Mac, died, Jacob stopped by his daddy’s chair on his way to bed and said, “Goodnight, Dad” Mac answered “Goodnight, Jake.” John and I and Dennie had been there all day and about 10:00 I went home to get some sleep.  John stayed because Mac had begun to get really agitated in his hallucinations and he was afraid Mac, though weak, could throw himself out of his chair or hurt Shelby.

At 5:30 the next morning the phone rang and Dennie said I’d better come quickly.  By the time I arrived Mac had just won his war.  Satan had played his last card, death, and though he won a battle, he lost the war.  Mac died with his father’s arms around his shoulders and his wife’s arms holding him.  Shelby let the boys sleep until the undertaker had gone, then she sat in her chair with a child held close under each arm and told them their Daddy had gone to Heaven.

When we went with Shelby to make arrangements, the first thing she said was, “I never expected to be doing this at 33.”  Both the visitation and funeral service were held in our Church for there was not enough room in the funeral home.  The Director said he had never held a service with so many people in attendance.  Shelby and John decided to bury Mac in the little cemetery about a quarter-mile from our home.  Arrangements were made and now Mac’s grave is close by.

Of course Mac is not there.  He has changed the landscape of Heaven for us. No longer is it a place just to be talked about in sermons or read about in the Bible.  Now it is where Mac is.  And we wonder what he’s doing today.  We see Heaven through the eyes of sorrow and joy.  And death has truly lost its sting.

My family has lost many members to cancer; two sisters, a brother, my mother and several cousins.  When the battle is done and the tears have dried, the heart regains its equilibrium and life goes on.  But for the poet, part of the healing process is putting into words our thoughts and the thoughts we see reflected in the eyes of our loved ones.  These are written for my son, Mac, and my sister Jackie who died of ovarian cancer.


I step back into the shadow,

beyond the light of my family’s


Storing memories

that must last through eternity.

I watch for the last time

each milestone celebration;

each small moment.

I take in the wonder

of the ordinary:

The smile of the morning,

The uncertain rest of the night

and the miracle of a day renewed.

As eternity beckons

I reach for the temporal,

for one last touch of mortality.

But I watch from the shadows.

© cover art, narrative, and poem 2011, Donna Swanson, all rights reserved

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Donna Swanson was born during the Great Depression in 1938 to an Indiana farm family.Youngest of eight children and a twin, she has lived her entire life in Warren County, Indiana.  A high school graduate, she chose to marry and raise a family rather than attend college; although she took classes in art, Koine’ Greek and psychology after marriage.  She has written nine books: Mind Song, published by The Upper Room in Nashville, TN; Rachel’s Daughters, The Windfallow Chronicles (a double trilogy), self-published; Splinters of Light, yet to be published, and the present autobiography.  A poem, Minnie Remembers, has become a standard tool in the study of gerontology, made into a documentary film by United Methodist Communications, and given the Golden Eagle Film Award.  It has been reprinted in most denominational publications and over twenty-five books. Mrs. Swanson is a Bible scholar and taught adult Bible classes for over forty years.  She began prayer and share groups for women in two area Churches and hosted a teenage “rap” group in her home for four years.  She counts among her mentors college professors, authors and ministers. Donna blogs at Mindsinger.