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January 29, 2014

Amazing Grace: One Family's Story

Schickel familyEvery once in a while I see examples of amazing grace and strength in the face of what appears to me to be insurmountable hardship. This past year has been one of those times for me. Last January, Elizabeth Schickel, a 15 year old high school student and athlete, was struggling with headaches. She had been a starting Freshman on her high school’s varsity girls soccer team, which had finished with a winning soccer season. She was a vibrant girl experiencing her first high school year, so it was easy for an outsider to think the headaches were likely due to stress and she would be fine. The headaches continued, however, and more symptoms began to show up. Soon my daughter informed me that Elizabeth was going in for more tests. 

In January 2013 Elizabeth was diagnosed with brain cancer. And here is where the journey of amazing grace and tremendous strength began.

Elizabeth and her family have battled with her brain cancer over the past year. She has been through surgery, chemo, countless visit to doctors, loss of hair, more chemo, loss of balance, more doctor visits, loss of hearing, more visits, loss of eye sight…and more visits. Throughout this time, Elizabeth and her family have been an incredibly powerful example -- to me and countless others -- of how to walk through one of life’s most difficult journeys with grace and love. 

Working with couples and individuals, and in my own life, I know how immensely hard it is to hold it together in times of conflict, upset and stress. During tough times, it’s immensely difficult for people to not spin out, snap, give up or otherwise lose it. And although the best way to go through hard times is to lean on and lean in to one another, people often end up growing more distant and antagonistic with one another. Elizabeth is one of seven children. She, her parents and her siblings have rallied together, leaned in and have exemplified true love, every step along the way. Their tremendous faith in God has helped pull them through the hardest of times and continues to anchor them today. Elizabeth, her parents and her siblings have been inspiring to watch. To say their love for one another has shone through is a gross understatement. But that’s not all.

While Elizabeth and her family were fighting for her life, the family was hit with another life-altering blow last summer. In August 2013, the family discovered that their oldest son, Ben had late stage lymphoma. Ben and Elizabeth, along with their family, friends, faith and community have all been fighting an uphill battle ever since. So far, the doctors have not been able to stop Elizabeth’s cancer, so she and her brother continue to fight together for their lives. 

The community surrounding this family has encircled them with love, support and prayers. Elizabeth’s school could not have done a better job of keeping the community informed on what is going on, how to help and what might be coming in the future. The family has chosen to walk through this journey with a positive attitude, humor and faith. As I’ve watched these parents join together to be the backbone for these seven children, two of whom are fighting for their lives, I’m reminded of what life is all about. It’s about love. It’s about connection. It’s about community. And it’s about a determination to be your best selves no matter what life throws at you.

This family inspired me and many others with the way they have walked through this journey together. As we all know, managing a family, paying bills and staying above water can be difficult in the best of times. Managing a family of seven children, while desperately trying to save the lives of two of your children…AND paying for all of the costs of this fight, is beyond difficult. 

If you are moved to participate, as I was, you can help. This family could use your help--our help--in getting through this profound hardship. The family is not aware of this post and has not asked me to help in any way. I’ve been on the sidelines and wanted to use my blog as a means of rallying this community of courageous, inspiring women to reach out to their friends, family members and their own community to help another woman and family in need. 

A donation campaign has been set up for this family for the next 120 days. They would appreciate any help you are able to give, including prayers, loving thoughts and, if you are able, a financial donation, which can be made here: http://www.youcaring.com/other/prayers-for-schickel/123967

If you are unable to provide financial assistance, below are several other ways to help:

  • Pass along this information to everyone you know
  • Send out tweets with #prayersforschickel with the link to this post or the direct link for donations
  • Keep this family in your thoughts and prayers and send love, compassion and good thoughts their way
  • Send cards or checks to: The Schickel Family, PO Box 866, Medfield, MA 02052 (please make checks out to Kathy or Abe Schickel) 
  • Hug your own family and practice gratitude for what you have

I thank all of you in advance for rallying together by spreading the word, making donations and keeping this exemplary family in your thoughts and prayers. Although we can’t cure the cancer, helping the family pay the bills for it will go a long way with reducing their stress. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

You all ROCK!



Online gifts: http://www.youcaring.com/other/prayers-for-schickel/123967


A possible resource for those of you going through chemotherapy: http://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/effects-on-body


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