I wanted to share with you the genesis of the Team Finn mantra Run Jump Bounce Dance Sing Love Smile and Ride and why I think it is so important.
The mantra itself comes from Finn. Finn lived it every chance he got. And here’s the thing. Finn continued to live the mantra even when it got very hard . He continued to press forward until the tumours that had invaded his prostate, his lymph nodes, his lungs, his liver, his spine and who knows where else wouldn’t let him any more. And even then he tried. Until the end he always tried. And that’s why I say, it is easy when it’s easy, but a person’s true measure is whether they can do it when it’s hard. And Finn did. And that my friends is why I want Finn remembered as the boy lived with cancer, not the boy who died of cancer. And that is why I say (always) that Finn did not lose his battle. Finn died. The doctors lost the battle. We suffered a loss. But if asked I will say and will always say that Finn never lost a battle.
But I am getting ahead of myself. In February 2007, Finn was diagnosed with cancer. We couldn’t change that, but Finn never was “cancer” or rather the cancer never was Finn.
Finn loved life and lived life large despite constant medical interventions. Because of the damage caused by the primary tumour before it was detected, Finn spent most of the last half of his life toting one or more urinary bags . The “pee bag”. Without having any data to back this up, I am confident Finn went through more pee bags in a short period of time than any kid ever did. He ran with them, he jumped with them, he danced with them, he rode with them; he would jump on his little yellow car, tuck his pee bag behind his back and zoom down the hill on our cul de sac. He also constantly blew them out. Before the hospital got to know Finn, they were very reluctant to supply us with replacement pee bags. That changed when we showed up at Children’s with Finn’s leaking pee bag covered with a ziplock bag and tape. Finn had quite simply worn the pee bag out. Ran right through it. It got to the point that the term “peecident ” became a part of our vocabulary. A peecident in Ottawa in March 2008 closed down a McDonald’s Playland. A peecident at Baird and Finn’s third birthday party temporarily closed down the bouncy castle. A good wipe and all the kids including Finn were right back at it.
Run Jump Bounce Dance Sing Love Smile and Ride is also a tribute to the way we lived as a family in a very difficult time.
For example, in the fall of 2007, we had to take Finn to Boston for specialized radiation treatment. We left approximately two weeks after Finn’s major resection surgery (where they removed a large tumour from Finn’s abdomen) at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. My recollection is that Finn traveled across the continent with four separate bags catching various body fluids. We were in Boston less that 24 hours when we had to take Finn in to emergency because of a major problem with one of the bags. This resulted in an additional, major surgery in Boston and a delay in the radiation treatment and a longer stay in Boston. To sum it up, all of that really sucked.
But on to my point. When I think about Boston, I don’t think about the medical side. I think about how a week after Finn’s major surgery in Boston we were at the zoo. I think about the Duck Boats and how much fun we had at the Science Center. I think about taking a boat to Salem. I think about going to see the ducks and Sarah break dancing in front of Faneuil Hall. I think about the kids playing in the parks and the Children’s Museum and all the people who came to give us a hand. I think about how much fun it was reading the “Waterhole” by Graeme Base to Baird and Finn and how they started filling in the words for me and how much time we spent looking at the pictures in that book. I think about morning walks with Finn and Daddy/Sarah days and Daddy/ Baird days. I think about five of us sleeping in one room and how much fun that was. So when I think about Boston, I don’t think about surgeries or daily radiation treatments. I think about what a good time our family had. I think about how we Ran, we Jumped, we Danced, we Sang, we Smiled, we Loved and we Rode.
Ultimately, what you need to know is the mantra came from Finn. Sam and I came up with the words. Finn lived them. Sam and I think everyone can learn from Finn and that the mantra will help everyone remember Finn. Ride was added in honour of the Ride to Conquer Cancer but Finn also did that (riding) with abandon.
It is also worth knowing that we did not come up with the mantra for the purpose of the Ride. We came up with it for the purpose of celebrating Finn’s life and reminding people how he lived while he lived. At Finn’s celebration of life, we distributed bookmarks with a picture of Finn jumping high in the air and the date of his birth and death. The back of the bookmark had the mantra on (in a different order and without Ride which was added later). I have also handed out lots of bookmarks at Team Finn events, especially to kids. I know that Cracker keeps a copy of the bookmark in his shaving kit (although it might have warn out by now). I know that Michelle’s daughter Paige often reads the mantra from the back of the bookmark to her.
The mantra has also become very important to Team Finn. Team Finn does not just Ride to Seattle. It Run Jumps Bounces Dances Sings Loves and Smiles to Seattle. While I am very proud of what Team Finn has accomplished, nothing, and I mean nothing makes me prouder than the way Team Finn Rides. We were worthy of Finn, not just in doing the Ride, but how we did it.
Another example of that from a Team Finn perspective. At a Team Finn pub night a woman came over to speak to me. She knew of me and of Finn from following my email updates (she got them from a friend who got them from a friend). After talking to me for a bit, she commented that she had come to eat with her son and that her son was struck by how everyone on Team Finn was smiling. We have been known to cry, but we also know how to laugh. And that is good.
So there you have it. An introduction with more to come.