May 19, 2016
Giving Back and Looking Ahead

Hi Little One just celebrated its 1st anniversary. Despite the long days and late nights, we are really proud of everything we have accomplished in the last 12+ months. While we're not swimming in money (yet!), Hi Little One is covering it's operating costs and producing enough revenue to fund the growth initiatives we're taking on in year two.

Onwards and upwards!

And while the numbers growth is of course really exciting, this company is so much more than a balance sheet to us. It is about family, humor and sharing good (and sometimes not so good) times with you in our blog posts. It's about giving back, and our commitment to donating 10% of profits to organizations dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer.

I've been thinking about this last component a lot lately. 

The month of May for me brings back a lot of memories for me. This morning, I headed down to the hospital, as I do twice a year. I am part of a high risk breast cancer screening and every six months I rotate between MRI's and Mammograms to make sure I am cancer free. I do this because of the radiation I received 19 years ago to kill the cancer in my lymph system, could cause breast cancer. Back in college, when I was supposed to be starting my senior slide I was diagnosed with cancer, Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It was January 1997, I was living off campus with friends, going out and taking classes like Women in Film, Play Writing and my favorite, Body Toning (which at a small all girls Catholic College seemed somewhat risqué). My plan was to slide right through my final semester having as much fun and doing as little work as possible before graduating. Instead, I found myself swapping nights at The Line Backer (classy) for radiation treatments. I still took all my classes—except Body Toning, sadly—doctor's orders.

Maggie Allen with Doctors at the Start of Hodgkin's Treatment  - Hi Little One Blog

When I think back on that time—lucky is honestly the word that comes to mind. Don't get me wrong, there were some pretty brutal moments where I didn't know how I was going to get through it. Like the day my hair fell out. Losing over half of my hair at 21 was incredibly difficult, it all fell out underneath, so it looked like I had shaved everything, but the top (think skate boarder style) I hid it pretty well, but on a windy days, not so much. It was the worst—chalk it up to vanity, but seriously, it was terrible. 

So why lucky? Lucky because my parents spent the entire semester traveling back and forth from home (9 hours drive) to my college, to take care of me. Lucky that my seven siblings never complained about mom and dad always being out of town and not home with them. Lucky because of the fact that my boyfriend (now husband) put his life on hold to spend as much time with me as possible, despite having a job where he was on the road all the time. Lucky my friends took me to radiation each day and took care of me in every way possible when Craig or my parents couldn't. Lucky that I had Hodgkin's and not a more aggressive type of cancer. Lucky we found it early. 

*When I was trying to find pictures of when I was sick, I realized, we didn't take any. Who wants a picture taken when you are sick? The photo's here show my graduation day, a week after my treatment finished and a picture of me and all the amazing doctors and nurses who cared for me.

Today, the check-up's are mostly quick tests and a few appointments to make sure the cancer is still gone. It's really not too bad. The hardest part is the anxiety of waiting for the results, but it's worth it. I'll celebrate 19 years of remission this year. And this year marks 14 years in remission for my brother Sean, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins when he was 13. These are really amazing milestones worth getting excited about.

But this month also marks 7 years since we lost my dad to this horrible disease. May is such a sharp contrast of hope and joy and loss. This is why we give back.

So this year, despite the lack of true-blue (er, black) profits for our little company, we've found other ways to donate through product and time. Last May for Mother's Day we donated 37 Hi Little One tote bags filled with gifts donated by some amazing local companies. We gave these bags to the mom's who have in-patient children at Children's Hospital of Minneapolis Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. We've donated many products to silent auctions to benefit Pediatric Cancer and made "Going for the Gold" t-shirts and onesie, at cost, to celebrate Children's Cancer Month last September. 

I'm already excited to write a follow up to this post next year. We're growing and will be able to start donating real dollars (in addition to goods and time). I have a very cautious optimism that I'll be celebrating twenty years cancer free, alongside my brother who will be celebrating 15.

Maggie Allen College Graduation - Post Hodgkins Treatment

Cancer is everywhere and touches everyone. It is no longer something your neighbor's Mom has. It is here, effecting all of our lives. I feel lucky to be alive. To be able to make a difference, no matter how small. To be able do something good. There are so many things to fight, so much to be saved...what do you feel lucky about?

 

Maggie Allen