To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Birthday Wish 2012

I'm writing this today (Tuesday the 15th), because mom is having a slew of pre-transplant tests done on my actual birthday (Thursday the 17th) that I really want/need to be present for.  So, I will be posting a link to this blog on Thursday before we head to the CTCA that morning.  *fingers crossed*

Also: The friends/families listed below do NOT know I'm doing this...I sincerely hope they are not offended by this, but rather are excited to accepted the gifts and blessings that I really hope are coming their way.  So, please know that these people did not solicit me to do this; I WANT to do this to help them out in some, small way.  Thank you.

As my birthday approached this year, family members and Mr. C kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday.  As usual, I wracked my brain trying to think of something I really wanted or needed.  Beyond finances for the adoption, there was nothing I could think of that I felt I truly, desperately wanted.

The only thing weighing on my heart right now are the people I've been touched by over these past few years.  My family is not the only one out there struggling with disease.  I have been blessed to have my life touched by so many old and new friends who are fighting their own good fight just as my family is.

So, it hit me that what would make me truly happy as I embark on my 31st year here on this planet would be if I could somehow go beyond what my own, insignificant hands can do and really reach out to my struggling and hurting friends.

This is what I'm asking of you, dear friend: could you, would you - please - take a minute of your time to write a card or letter to one of the following friends of mine who could really use your support right now?  Just a note to let them know that you're praying for them and thinking of them during this time.  If you feel so inclined, send them a gift card or check to help with bills, groceries, lunch somewhere other than the hospital, etc.  This is what I really want for my birthday, and it would mean the WORLD to me if you would do this for one of my friends. 

I will NOT be giving out these people's addresses (I just don't feel comfortable doing that without their permission); so, my plan is that you can send your cards and letters to me HERE:

Mandie Hickenbottom-Conner
2400 N. Samson Way
Apt. 1C
Waukegan, IL 60087

Then, I will forward them all on to the people you wrote to (and no, I WILL NOT be opening the cards - I will forward them on just as you send them to me).


Here is my list of friends - choose one or all! :-)


If you've read my blog lately, you've probably read about my friend, Vince Guereca.  If not, you can read about his impact on my life here.  

Vince was a loving husband to his wife Silvia and devoted father to his four children Julie, Priscilla, Elliot, and Jesse.  And at only 36 years of age, it was hard for me to understand why our heavenly father decided to take him home; but as I've said before, there are many things I know I will not be privy to in this lifetime.

One thing I know is that Vince would never have left if he wasn't certain that his wife and kids would be taken care of properly.  While I know that their church, New Life in Chicago, is doing their best, the burden of being a single parent to four little humans ages 6 to 15 is a lot for anyone.

I know Silvia is smart and strong, but I also know that we are called to care for widows and orphans:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." -James 1:27 (NIV)

So, I ask that you consider writing/donating to the Guereca family; for they are humble and most worthy.  

If you would like to donate directly to Silvia, a bank account has been set up specifically for donations:

Chase Bank, account #: 948075536


This is a photo of Mary and Jim Day.  I had the pleasure of meeting them at the cancer center where Jim was a stem cell patient like mom.  Sadly, Jim lost his fight with cancer not that long ago; and understandably, Mary has lost her best friend and partner in life.

Jim was a godly man who knew exactly where he was going and showed true strength of character and immense bravery until the very end.  He has inspired me to live without the fear of death (something I used to struggle with quite a bit), and I know I will never forget him.

Mary stayed by Jim's side night and day.  All of the nurses at the CTCA were deeply moved by her devotion to Jim, as was I.

I know without a doubt that Mary would love to hear from you - that you care, that you are thinking of her, that you are praying for her.


This sweet, little guy is Paul Melchoirre.  He was born to my college pal, Colleen, and her hubby, Dan.  Paul also just so happens to have been born with a heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  This has required baby Paul to undergo numerous surgeries followed by long stints in the NICU at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, TN.

Paul is a fighter, and I KNOW that God has an awesome purpose for his life.  As someone who understands days upon days spent in a hospital, I am sure that Colleen and Dan would appreciate your thinking of them with a nice gift card to someplace like Starbucks or another eatery like Panera where they could take a tiny break from the NICU and replenish their bodies and minds.  Just a card letting them know you care enough to think of/pray for their sweet boy would mean a lot to them, I'm sure.


This is my friend, CaryJean, and her dad, Gary.  Gary has been fighting pancreatic and now lung cancer for the past year or so.  This picture was taken at Cary's recent graduation from college.  A friend made sure that a private ceremony was held so that Gary could SEE his daughter graduate, as he could not have made it through the entire ceremony held for the public.
Cary and her mother, Valerie, are devoted to Gary during his treatments and recovery periods.  I know they would love to hear that you are thinking of Gary as he continues his radiation treatment in preparation for more surgery and chemotherapy.

There are so many more friends that I could place here today, but I don't want to overwhelm you all with choices; so for now, I will stick with these four options.

Again, please send all cards/letters/etc. to ME at the address above WITH the name of the family/person you are writing to on the back of the card so I know where to send it. 

I just want to THANK YOU all in advance from the bottom of my heart for doing this for me/my friends.  It is the BEST birthday gift I could ever receive, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it!

For those of you who don't know, mom's stem cell transplant will take place on May 23rd.  If you'd like to write her some encouraging words as well, you may write to the address above (just put her name in instead of mine) or you can send it directly to the CTCA here:

Kerry Hickenbottom
Cancer Treatment Center of America
Stem Cell Unit
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099

Thank you again, friend!  I hope you have a blessed day!

All the Love in the World,

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