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Losing a Child: Always Andy's Mom

As a pediatrician, married mom of three biological children and one foster son, my life was busy, rushing off to my office four days a week, seeing patients for three and working as a medical director of a local physician organization for one. I balanced this with rushing off to shuttle my kids to after sports and other after school activities. All of this changed one day in August of 2018 when my 14 year old son, Andy, was killed in a car accident. I felt like my life was over, and in some ways it was over, and a new life was forced to begin in its place. 

Grief is seldom discussed openly in our culture, and the death of a child makes people feel even more uncomfortable. On this blog and podcast, ‘Losing a Child: Always Andy’s Mom’, the topic is approached openly and honestly, speaking to people who have lost loved ones and experts who help care for them. Whether you are a parent experiencing loss or someone who wants to support another going through this tragedy, this blog and podcast strives to offer hope and help.

Jan 19, 2023

Imagine for just a second back to being a 14-year-old. You are likely transitioning to high school, worrying about puberty, and probably a little self-absorbed. Imagine now that you have been in cancer treatment for almost four years and that you just found out that there was nothing more that the doctors could really do. You would continue treatments, but a full cure likely wasn’t possible anymore. I imagine that young teen would be devastated, and feel justified in having a little self-pity.
This is what 14-year-old Abbie experienced, but she had the exact opposite emotional reaction to what I wrote above. That day when Abbie’s mum, Tammy, had that difficult conversation with her, Abbie did not go off to hide in her room and cry. She instead asked to go see her best friend, Emma. 
What she did then was simply amazing. She and Emma spent the next several hours in Emma’s room writing. Tammy did not know what they had written until months later, the day after Abbie died. On four bits of paper, Abbie and Emma wrote several things including everything she wanted to be included in her celebration of life. More importantly, she wrote that she wanted her parents to start a foundation to help kids with cancer. She even named the foundation - Abbie’s Sparkle Foundation. (
During this personally difficult time in her life, all Abbie could think about was the way that she could use her struggles to help other kids. She wanted to help make their lives a little easier, even as her own life was ending. Tammy and the rest of the family have used Abbie’s inspirational words as a guide. Their original first-year goal was to raise £10,000  - they raised £100,000. Over their five-year history, they have raised £500,000 and have been able to help over 1200 children. Tammy knows that helping all of these kids is exactly what Abbie would have dreamed.