Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mom
I knew that Jersey Mike’s Subs Day of Giving was going to be good, but today exceeded my expectations. I knew lunch would be crazy so I spent my lunch watching social media flood with everyone I knew getting lunch while I patiently gave platelets at the blood center. Also, because this was about Isabella, I wanted to take the kids for family dinner tonight. We ventured out to a new location for us on East Boulevard. When we walked it, I was so excited to see the team in their Cancer Messed With shirts. They of course greeted us when we walked in, not knowing the story that just walked through the door. The first teammate noticed my shirt (CMW the wrong family) and said, “Hey! Look at us in our matching shirts!”. I told her I loved not only the shirts but everything they were doing today in honor of my daughter. I was Isabella’s Mom. The assembly line stopped and I was created immediately with hugs. Sophia of course proudly announces that she is her sister too. The manager tells me how honored they are to be a part of the process and how he read a great interview that I did in Creative Loafing a few years back. It hooked him and and he has been following us every since. He was happy to be a part of the team that provided dinner for the Levine families earlier this month and proudly showed me the photo on the wall.
Sophia and I proceeded to eat together in a booth alone as I listened to her talk about her day, stopping every so often to hug me. Midway through our meal, a man and a woman came over and shook my hand. They just wanted to come over and meet us. Turns out their son Tristan, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at just 5 months old. He has had 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 2 surgeries already in just 9 months of life. They had always heard of us and were so excited to meet us and thank us for all that we are doing. I told them they were in great hands at Levine Children’s Hospital and NB caught under the age 2 has a very good prognosis. We would love to help them with anything they need but by the look on his face I felt like maybe we were already doing enough. He jokingly said that this sub will taste a whole lot better now after this and loved that it was going to help kids like his. He shook my hand again and looked me hard in the face and said, “Thank you.”.
Only a couple kids in Charlotte with NB and we stumble across them randomly tonight. I try not to let these things screw with my mind – the whole coincidence of it all so I turn back to Sophia. She says, “Mommy there is good and bad about Isabella dying. Bad because she can’t sit here with us at this table, but good because we are helping that baby.” I get one last hug and she is back to her food. Sometimes an 8 year old can just put everything in to perspective.
-Erin, Isabella’s Mommy