Sunny Yellow with a Chance of Gray
The beginning of May has always held a special place in my heart.
If you have been around for a while, you know about Team Lebano and our Hear We Go Event legacy.
As we walked Sophia through her years of progressive hearing loss, we built a team to support our walk, our journey. And then we charged ahead by walking or running a 5K as a team to have fun, to raise funds, and raise awareness for those affected by hearing loss.
Early in Sophia’s diagnosis of hearing loss, she wrote a story about “Having Hearing Aids.” That little story became a testimony she was invited to share at the booth/table at that “fundraiser.” Sophia stood by beaming with pride for the story she wrote, the team she gathered, and the monies she collected to help others and to help herself process through all of it.
I saw the potential for her to inspire so many other kids and parents like me. Sophia was proud and eager to show others how much she loved her sparkly hearing aid molds and all of the fantastic equipment needed to manage her declining hearing.
We know the equipment, the sparkly molds, standing at a table, and a massive crowd of Yellow-shirted teammates would never take away the reality and truth of losing her hearing.
BUT the birth of Team Lebano and our Yellow Shirts scattered around the gardens where the 5k was held brought a bit more awareness and understanding to our small corner of the world.
To be surrounded by a sea of yellow shirts on that first cloudy gray day while linking arms with those who cared about our cause brought joy and purpose to an otherwise tricky circumstance.
It taught Sophia to advocate for herself, be proud of her difference, and turn a frustrating situation into an inspiring one.
Her voice was a positive one for others who were given the gift of hearing loss too. Over the years, Sophia and I both ministered to others as they walked a similar journey. Many connections began when we were willing to stand together and share our story over the years as we wove golden threads.
“To have the courage for whatever comes in life —everything lies in that.-St. Teresa of Avila
It was a gift to participate in this walk, to raise money, to see others gather for a cause that was near and dear to her heart. It was my gift to stand by and watch in amazement and help organize and plan future events to continue to bring about awareness.
Over the years, we had a blast at those “Hear We Go” events while bringing more Yellow shirts to the starting line. While the brilliant color lit the way on the 5K course, it also lit a fire in our hearts as we navigated life in this new way.
Progressive hearing loss, cochlear implant surgeries, advocacy, and bringing awareness have been part of my fibers for many years. For many reasons, the journey from one hearing aid, to two hearing aids, to two separate cochlear implant surgeries in 10 years has been a rocky yet beautiful road.
This journey has connected us with so many beautiful souls, new friends, and new hearing loss advocates along the way.
But as I write this, I can’t help but find the irony of the day I send this note out into the world.
Our first Hear We Go walk was on May 7, 2010. Wow, hard to believe is was over a decade ago.
May 7, was also the date It was also the date of Sophia’s second Cochlear Implant Surgery back in 2018. Her world opened up in more glorious ways than words can truly express.
But alas, Here We Are…Here We Go Once again.
Once again, we find ourselves navigating a difficult journey, one that I would honestly not have ever believed I would have to encounter.
Here we are in May, and our focus now shifts from yellow to gray. Here We Go…Again—bringing awareness, but a different kind of awareness this time. We are bringing awareness to a diagnosis, yes—the diagnosis of brain tumors.
However, it’s also about bringing awareness that WE CAN (and YOU can too) walk through hard things and still find hope in a Rainbow.
Here we are in May, and our focus now shifts from yellow to gray. Not gray as in we are no longer sunny, but #InMayWeGoGray. Maybe in some ways, that feels true that things are too hard, but we are warriors of faith, and we know with God we can do all things. We can still find joy on the journey.
#GoGrayinMay is a theme designated in May to bring awareness to those affected by brain tumors/brain cancer. And for us, it is meant to bring hope.
Our world has been affected by brain cancer over the last almost 10 months.
This is my/our life now—advocating and being a voice for those affected by brain tumors/brain cancer. My husband, Jon, is living with brain cancer. Therefore, our family is living with brain cancer. My kids are living with brain cancer. Each of us is living with it in different ways, but all 6 of us are living with it.
It affects every decision, every thought, every plan we make. We continue to pray for days to be able to dream and reach toward the future. And we continue to walk with faith, hope, and love for better days to come.
“Faith is to believe what you do not see, the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” -St. Augustine
Like our journey with hearing loss, I have met many women and men who have had to walk this courageous and challenging journey. We have met medical staff and made connections with people we now call friends because of this brain cancer diagnosis.
I have found friendship, companionship, and support with those who have walked this challenging journey before us or who are walking it with us. These are wondrous gifts.
I have found the most incredible gift among those I have met is a profoundly loving, positive support, an attitude of gratitude and joy even in the unknown while keeping eyes fixed on God.
We were a Sunny Yellow. Now we are a chance of Gray, but the sun is shining, and the rainbows keep showing up.
So Here We Go, We Go Gray in May.
If you know me, you know by nature I am a fierce advocate: a long road walker and a champion for my people.
Bringing awareness and being an advocate is a role I take with great care while finding ways to bring purpose, fun/laughter, and attention even in challenging times.
So while we are not walking or running a 5K like we did at our first Hear We Go Event 11 years ago, we are asking you to GEAR UP in GRAY. Please join us by purchasing and wearing our custom GRAY Gear to join the team and show your love and support.
Will you Journey With Us on this Clever and Courageous Journey?
Please Go Check out the Gear in our Shop.
And Check Back often as more items are added to the store over the next few days.
All proceeds will help support our family as our Clever and Courageous Warrior, Jon, continues to live with and fight the battle against brain cancer.
I invite you to Grab Your Gray for May and Please Journey with Us.
As you read this, I know your hearts must be feeling the same ache mine does to bring awareness to something as horrible as brain cancer into our life. It’s nothing we’d ever want to welcome with open arms. I genuinely wish it was something no one ever had to endure. And I know others have suffered from far worse circumstances than we have met to date.
We are grateful for all the gifts, graces, love, and kindness we have encountered as we have courageously continued to climb this mountain. Because from where I stand, there have been magnificent views as we continue to climb and conquer these mountains.
Sure we all love the days when the bright yellow sun makes itself known in the sky. But Gray Days can be beautiful too. With the God’s Grace those Gray days can have a hint of sunny too.
In today’s Gospel Reading from St. John, “Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment, that you LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have LOVED YOU. No One has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…You did not CHOOSE me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commandments so that you may love one another.” John 15:12-17
In addition to the support you can bring our family by joining our team and wearing gray with us, we ask you one more thing. May you remember to be kind, to follow the simple commandment—to LOVE one another as God has LOVED you.
We just NEVER know the mountains others are trying to conquer.