“The lesions on your brain indicate you have multiple sclerosis. I need you to set up an appointment for a spinal tap. I talked to your husband earlier. Didn’t he tell you this?”
I heard the doctor on the other end of the phone but wasn’t really processing it. When I hung up, I walked out to the barn. Anger, fear, and confusion all swirled in my head as I blurted out to my husband, “Why didn’t you tell me the doctor called? Why didn’t you tell me it was MS?” Tears filled his eyes - he couldn’t answer.
The diagnosis of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis was confirmed the next week. And, soon after, I found a Neurologist specializing in MS at the University of Texas Houston.
In the eight years since my diagnosis, life has carried on in its new “normal”. I continued to teach for five years then made the painful decision to retire (though I’m entirely too young to be considered retired!). My body just couldn’t keep up with the demands of teaching. But in the midst of quitting my career, my next calling unfolded before me.
I had created a doll when my youngest son, Casey, was a toddler that he carried around like a security blanket. It provided him comfort and a reminder that his daddy and I loved him. And throughout my years of teaching, I would take note of other children that could benefit from a doll like Casey’s.
I decided to listen to God’s urging and in 2009, made a line of angel dolls that would be donated to children enduring traumatic or stressful circumstances. My Heart Guardian Angel Dolls was born.
Since forming my nonprofit organization, 2,000 angel dolls have been donated to organizations, facilities, professionals, and families who care for, treat, or rehabilitate children in the hopes of providing comfort. Child advocacy agencies, pediatric hospitals, hospice, schools, and individual families have been recipients of My Heart Guardian Angel Dolls.
I have been blessed by all the places the dolls have been received. But one that is especially significant to me is The National Pediatric MS Center at Stony Brook Hospital. When Kyle Frederick from Band Against MS told me about Stony Brook, I had no idea that pediatric MS was so prevalent. I knew the issues I had dealt with as a result of the disease, and I couldn’t imagine a child having to deal with it.
He put me in contact with Jo Biederman at Stony Brook who graciously accepted a donation of dolls that would be distributed to their pediatric patients. I plan on continuing to donate dolls for as long as Stony Brook is willing to take them!
Recently, Kyle told me about a young girl who had been struggling with her MS. I sent two dolls to her family; one for her and one for her older sister. Perhaps they will be able to cuddle with their dolls and find comfort.
I know the angel dolls don’t cure children or change their circumstances. But my hopes are that children receiving the dolls understand that people love them and want to comfort them during their times of distress.
And though MS slows me down from time to time, I won’t let it take away my purpose in life.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice that says I will try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Radmacher
Learn more about Elin's organization, My Heart Guardian Angel Dolls by visiting their website www.myheartangels.org.
Elin PhillipsMy Heart Guardian Angel Dolls