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Article: A Golden Dress for the Cure

A Golden Dress for the Cure

Image by MurielleCascone photography

September is Gold Ribbon Month for Childhood Cancer Awareness. EleStory will donate $5 to the American Childhood Cancer Organization for every Gold Chiffon Dress you purchase between now and Sept 30 at 11:59PM PT.

The stories and ugly truths about childhood cancer are heartbreaking and difficult to bear, even from the viewpoint of a family friend or a distant bystander. Similar to how it felt to watch coverage of Hurricane Harvey from the safety of a faraway living room, I cannot even fathom how difficult it is to be the parent of a child with cancer.

The battle these kids and their parents fight is commonly a long and arduous one. The ongoing medical struggles that ensue often cause a heavy spiritual, emotional and financial burden that can threaten to tear apart even a family with enormous resolve. On top of that, no one can promise that the cancer will move on or spare the child's life, no matter how many treatments he/she undergoes.

The parents and family members of childhood cancer patients have no choice but to sit in countless waiting rooms and doctors offices, sleep in chairs beside hospital beds and watch their babies suffer at the mercy of this cruel and destructive disease; all while doing their best to keep a million moving pieces together and still hold on to hope. 

The weight of all this stress, grief, loss and struggle is more than any child or family – no matter how autonomous, courageous and strong – is built to withstand alone.

That's why it’s so important (even in the midst of so many national crises and natural disasters), for us to turn our focus to another important and crucial cause that’s in need of our attention this September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

This sweet story reel of two #elesisters was shot by AbellaBraids.

Two years ago, EleStory’s founder, Judy, was contacted about a little girl named Emma. Judy was pointed to a blog called "Through Emma’s Eye” that’s written by a mother named Anya about her sweet and courageous, cancer-fighting daughter (who at the time was 4-years-old, the same age as Judy's daughter, June). Emma was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis at age two, a rare type of cancer that develops in the nervous system. She has since undergone several rounds of chemotherapy and permanently lost sight in one eye as a result of a malignant tumor.

Emma in her gold EleStory dress from Through Emma's Eye, Anya's Facebook page for Emma. 

As Judy read through pages of Anya’s blog she found herself glued to the screen, tears streaming down her face. “As a mother to a little one myself, I couldn’t fathom how a young mother with such young girls was living through what every mother would dread: fighting cancer on behalf of her little girl.”

That's when Judy reached out to Anya to ask how she could help.

The two mothers exchanged a few messages, then Judy drove to meet Anya and the rest of her family at Stanford Hospital (where Emma was undergoing treatment) so she could bring gold dresses for Emma and her sisters to wear for gold ribbon month. 

Photo of Emma (left), her little sister Cora (to her right) and her twin sister Grace (far right) wearing the EleStory Gold Chiffon dress in 2015 with their friends. 

This year EleStory will be making a personal gift to Emma and her family, and we’ve also decided to donate the proceeds from our “Golden Dress for the Cure” campaign to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (the charity that founded the gold ribbon as a symbol for childhood cancer). Through a variety of programs, fundraisers and events, the ACCO works tirelessly to provide information and support to children with cancer and their families, in addition to funding cutting-edge research in search of a cure.

The back of the dress features it's own gold ribbon (left) and the stripes of gold foil shimmer when light hits the flowy, chiffon fabric (right). I love how the ruffly sleeves look like wings both on and off the little angels who wear them. 

The color gold symbolizes courage, triumph and victory. It makes us think of good fortune and wealth, of the winner of a big race, of something worthy and special. Gold was chosen to represent childhood cancer in recognition of the strength, courage and resiliency of the children who face this destructive disease, but that doesn’t mean that these tiny warriors don’t need our ongoing help.

Like Anya described in her most recent blog post, Cancer Will Break Your Heart, it can be difficult for others to stick around through all the emotional and disheartening ups and downs of childhood cancer, because seeing sick babies can be more than a lot of people can handle, Anya said.

It’s unfortunately too easy for those of us with healthy kids (or the house that’s still standing after a brutal storm) to get tripped up and even paralyzed by our own bewildering sense of guilt.

But that guilt isn’t useful to anyone; it only gets in way of our ability to connect and be of service or comfort to those who need us. We don’t even have to do something big or heroic to help. As Anya explained, the little, simple gestures really do mean something to those in dire straights. 

For those of us who personally know a family dealing with childhood cancer, here’s a quick list of simple things you can do to lend a hand:

  • Pick up the phone to offer a listening ear
  • Send a card, an e-mail or even a quick text to let the parent or family know that you’re thinking of them
  • Drop off a hot or even a frozen meal
  • Offer to babysit their healthy children while the parents takes a sick child to a doctor’s appointment, treatment or surgery
  • Offer to do some simple house chores (like a few loads of laundry or mowing the lawn)
  • Send them a gas card or a gift card (to a local grocery store, pharmacy, Target or Home Depot)
  • Send toys or gifts for their kids (and not just the child with cancer)
  • Make a cash donation to help with their mounting medical bills

Even if you don’t know anyone personally affected by childhood cancer, there are plenty of ways to help those who are. Donate online to a Mom like Anya or to a reputable charity like the ACCO, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, or a more local organization (like the Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services for those of us in Northern California).

As mentioned before, if you purchase an EleStory Gold Chiffon Dress for the girls in your life between now and the end of September, we will donate $5 of your purchase to the ACCO and your little ones can show their support for gold ribbon month. (Don’t forget to tag your #goldribbonmonth posts with #elesgoldenwish #goldendressforthecure and #childhoodcancerawareness to help spread the good word!)

No matter how brave little warriors like Emma are, and how tough and unyielding Mommies like Anya are, at our core we are all vulnerable human beings who need each other. “After all, are we not one large collective beating heart of humanity?” Anya said.

Even in the toughest of circumstances, the future looks a little bit sunnier, golden and bright when we know we don't have to go through the darkest moments in life alone.

Like tossing a gold coin into a fountain, we hope this dress – and the contributions it will help us make to childhood cancer research, support services, and awareness – will be a good luck charm for the kids who are still bravely fighting this disease, one day at a time.

At the very least, if we can keep sending our hopeful thoughts and prayers out for Emma (and kids like her) throughout the year, then maybe, just maybe, they'll get that clean bill of health we’ve all been wishing for – and they'll be celebrating many more golden birthdays to come.

That's our big wish this year.


Written by our Staff Writer, Cassandra Smolcic 
with the help of EleStory Creative Director, Judy Jou

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