If you attend CURE events, chances are you’ve seen Leslie Edmond. Although you might have to look hard to catch a glimpse because you typically won’t find her on stage or in the spotlight. No, she’ll be the one with her sleeves rolled up behind the scenes doing whatever it takes to ensure success. And there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.
Leslie found CURE during her family’s fight against childhood cancer. Her very active eight-year-old son, Matthew, ran a low-grade fever for two weeks and was noticeably slower at an end-of-season swim meet. When he complained of neck pain and she found a lump, her concern escalated. Fortunately, he had a routine check-up scheduled for the following day. But his pediatrician found more lumps on his chest and sent him to a specialist.
After a long process that included bloodwork, biopsy, and many more tests, Matthew was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. His treatment consisted of chemotherapy that lasted a full year.
“I would describe him as a healthy cancer patient,” Leslie said. “He handled chemo well and we only had to make one emergency trip to the hospital.”
As a cancer mom, Leslie was invited to one of the first A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes luncheons and it made quite an impression.
“Most Saturdays I was doing laundry or driving the mom shuttle somewhere,” she recalled. “But there I was dressed up and sitting at a table with these women I didn’t know. But really, I knew every one of them because we shared such a deep common experience. It was beautiful.”
That Saturday set something in motion for her – a desire to pay it forward. Leslie wanted other moms fighting for their children’s lives to be made to feel as special as she did that day. So she contacted CURE and offered to help. She didn’t limit her involvement to Quiet Heroes, though. Since then, she has served in many other capacities. Leslie delivers meals to the clinic on Tuesdays, she has tied up Christmas bows and pound cakes, stuffed invitations, and served on auction committees.
Leslie at Quiet Heroes with fellow volunteers: Leigh Ann Herrin, Eileen and Maggie Villoutreix
“I like to be a part of several things because I get to see the extent of CURE’s care and relationship with the families,” Leslie explained. “One of the most rewarding and challenging things I’ve done is volunteer at the bereavement weekends. Seeing the parents working through their grief and thinking maybe I had a small part in helping just one of them makes it all worthwhile.”
Leslie is constantly encouraging others to volunteer. For those interested, she has three pieces of advice:
- Be flexible and fill whatever gaps are needed.
- No job is insignificant. Every small thing is important to the whole effort.
- Not everyone can write a big check, but everyone can do something to help.
Matthew is twenty-eight years old now and lives in Chattanooga where he can enjoy climbing, camping, and all of the outdoor activities he loves. He is very fortunate to have no obvious side effects from the treatment.
And Leslie, she is still serving at every opportunity. In fact, recently, as Leslie was working the registration desk at CURE’s Weekend of Hope and Healing, a mother noticed her name tag and said, “You’re a CURE Volunteer? I want to be a volunteer.”
Leslie just smiled and replied confidently, “When you’re ready, there is a place for you.”