four years

Today our son Ben has been gone for four years. We have officially lived without him longer than we lived with him – a milestone that we have been dreading. People want to know that we are better now than we were then – that we are happy and living again. On one hand the answer is yes. Four years later, pain is not the primary focus of our days. Not because it isn’t there – it’s just quieter. Instead of feeling like we are experiencing cardiac arrest, it feels more as if our bones ache. We have become better at managing it; we are more used to its ways. But it is always just under the surface. There is no getting over the absence of your child. And this anniversary, as well as the events in Newtown, is a cruel reminder.

Simultaneously though, as I said at the benefit in September, there is this truth:

Where sorrow has overwhelmed, generosity has overflowed.
When our hearts were broken, yours expanded.
Out of our loss something bigger has happened.
And your participation in it has been extraordinary.

Therefore we live in this tension – of continued grief as well as amazement at what has happened because of you. This has been an incredible year at Ben Towne Foundation and at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research. In 2012, because of your generosity, as well as the incredible dedication of Dr. Michael Jensen and his team, we have moved forward.

The first-ever clinical trial application from the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research for treating relapsed pediatric leukemia using reprogrammed T-cells was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is now enrolling patients. This is a critical first step towards achieving cures. Ben Towne Foundation will continue to raise awareness and funding to further pre-clinical research aimed at developing protocols not only for leukemia, but also for neuroblastoma, brain cancers and sarcomas – which together account for eighty percent of deaths among children diagnosed with cancer. We will pursue them one by one, until every form of pediatric cancer can be treated in a way that leaves children whole and ready for their future. We would encourage you to read Dr. Jensen’s update on the Center and these next steps on our blog here.

But today we pause, we remember, we grieve and we say thank you. For as much as we long to go back, your participation in this mission and this incredible momentum is moving us forward. We are looking ahead to all that will come in 2013.

Best wishes in the New Year to you and your family.

With Gratitude,
Jeff and Carin Towne