Last week I wrote a post about my not so awesome but not completely  horrible experience flying home from Amsterdam on United Airlines.

One thing I can say for a complaint post — it gets a lot of attention.  That particular article got more comments on Facebook than most of my others and more shares than anything else I’ve written.  People love a good rant.

Of particular interest to me though was how no one pointed out to me how much this was a first world problem.  How I had gotten home safely, without incident, and really, there was nothing to complain about.  How I had just had the chance to experience a wonderful city in Europe — a privilege not afforded to many.  No one told me to be grateful or count my blessings.  Maybe some people read it and thought it, but they didn’t say it.

I’ve said here before, I believe it truly is our right to complain.  All of my problems are in fact first world problems, because I happen to have been born in the first world and lived here all my life.  Because someone’s problems are of the first world variety does not make them less worthy of complaint.  Taken to the extreme, we would always be telling people to shut up, because there is always someone worse off than you.

Today, it’s particularly important to me to share the story of someone who is truly struggling.

And I’m asking the people who take the time to read this to do a few things.

But first, the background.

A little girl, Phoebe-Ross Doull Hoffman, has been battling an aggressive and difficult to treat cancer for her entire life.  She was diagnosed at 9 weeks old, and has spent most of her life in treatment, enduring tests and drugs and procedures that most adults can’t even imagine, never mind tolerate.  Her family has moved from their home multiple times to pursue various treatment options for Phoebe.  They have been in Memphis for over a year, trying to find something new and innovative that will help Phoebe.  This family — older sister Mae, mother Jenny and father Jon have battled courageously for 5 years, never giving up hope, never backing down.  You can read Phoebe’s story at Phoebe Rose Rocks.  It’s both inspiring and heartbreaking.

I have known the Doull family for over 25 years, and I can tell you that they are the very definition of good people.  My heart continually breaks for them.  My heart breaks whenever I hear stories of families who have children fighting for their lives, but of course it hurts that much more when you are close to someone.  I’ve now known too many families who have had to watch their children battle for their lives.

Right now, Phoebe is in Memphis, at St. Jude, fighting multiple infections.  She has no immune system, due to cancer treatment, so obviously this is a very difficult battle.  The team at St. Jude is arranging to transfer Phoebe’s care to the ICU at CHEO in Ottawa.  So she can be home surrounded by the love of her family.

So here’s what I’m asking.

If you pray, please pray for Phoebe.  Pray for healing and love and smiles and time for Phoebe and her sister Mae, her mother Jenny, her father Jon.  Pray for her grandparents Liza and Robin.  And for her aunts Kirstin and Marion, and uncles Patrick and Scot.  For her cousins Sophie, Daniel, Olivia, Simon, Findley and Iris.  Pray for the Hoffman family, that they may experience healing and peace.  And if prayer isn’t your thing, send healing thoughts, positive energy, white light — anything that will surround this family with love.



For many people, myself included, hearing stories like these puts our own lives into rather harsh perspective.  We vow to appreciate what we have more, to be more grateful, to stop complaining about the petty things and be satisfied with what we have.  And this is all good of course.  We should be grateful.  We should hug our kids and our families and our friends and love them hard.

And, we should also, perhaps, do more.  Because in the end, our lives will go back to what they were.  Our spouses and kids and jobs and airlines and other people driving will annoy us.  That’s always what happens.

So here’s the second thing I’m asking you to do today.  All those things you’re complaining about — the job you hate, the friend that pisses you off, the weight you want to lose, the spouse that is driving you nuts, the dream man/woman you’re waiting for — figure out which ones are important, and start making changes.  Go after your dream job.  Let go of the friend.  Forget about the weight and live your life anyway.

We wait for things to happen.  We wait for the right time, a good time, a better time.  There is no such thing.  There is only now.  Some dreams should probably die, and some should definitely not.  But one thing is for sure — life is too short not to try.  And your life can be irrevocably changed in a single instant.  Make a commitment to one little step today — one little step towards your dream.  Tell me what it is.  Tell somebody what it is.  Get out there and fight for it.

Please keep Phoebe and her family in your thoughts and prayers.




All I ask
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2 thoughts on “All I ask

  • November 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for this Mel. Little Miss Phoebes family knows my second cousin Matthew Robert Pierce family. They both were cancer warriors together in Memphis. Unfortunately, baby Matthew succumbed to this awful disease. Matthews mom Aimme still fights this battle for all cancer warriors like Phoebe. I’ve followed her story closely all along and have prayed that she is one of the warriors to make it through. She has been through treatments no one shoukd ever endure. Everytime i read updates from Aimee or Jenny, my heart breaks as well. The fact that they are a warrior family from home hits hard. Chikdren shoukd never go before their parents. We were not made to bury our children. If you speak to them, please let the family know Matthews family still fights and prays alongside them. Our kids are worth more than 4%.

    • November 18, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment Cathie. Phoebe passed away this morning, after a long and courageous fight.


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