Leo's Double Digit Birthday
By Lauren Young
My son Leo Gordon was born at Mount Sinai Hospital on Halloween 2004 in New York City with a very large – and very lumpy – nevus on his back. It was no trick – and definitely not a treat – to visit three different hospitals during his first four days on earth. (We also made a trip to NYU to meet a leading mole expert followed by a trip to St. Vincent’s NICU to treat a bout of jaundice.) Hearing other people’s delivery room horror stories, I feel very lucky that we were told our baby was as “healthy as a horse.” Even so, we were dealing with a bevy of emotions and fears. Was the MRI recommended by Leo’s doctors dangerous? Should we consider removal? Will surgery be covered by insurance? What is the best sunscreen? Thankfully, we learned about Nevus Outreach from the get-go. I cannot imagine what life would be like now without this incredible organization.
As we made the rounds to different doctors, we started connecting with other Nevus families in the New York area, which led to our very first regional gathering of about 10 families at a kid-friendly theme restaurant called Mars 2112. My toddler son was way more interested in the video games, but it was such a giant relief to meet parents along with adults (Rita Pink!) who had experiences with giant nevi. Since that time, we’ve organized at least three more regional events, and we’ve also attended three annual conferences. I go out of my way to make these things happen because it’s really important for Leo to know other kids like him.
That’s why every year for Leo’s birthday, I put out a plea to friends and family – via email and Facebook – to support Nevus Outreach. It’s really easy to set up a grassroots fundraiser on the Nevus Outreach site, as long as you remember your login. (You can always call the office and ask! We love to talk to you. - Ed.) Once I have the link, I simply send out one email blast with all the details. I also post the link once on Facebook (with a short introduction and cute picture, naturally!) to people who know and love my kid.
It’s important to set a goal. Our annual target jumps every year by $100, so this year it was $1,000 for Leo’s 10th birthday. Folks like supporting Nevus Outreach because they know how integral it has been to our family in the past decade. Every year we exceed our goal. And every year at least four or five people I’d never expect donate to Nevus Outreach – often very generously.
I had the pleasure of serving on the board of Nevus Outreach for seven years, and recently passed the baton to Leo’s dad, Jon. Although we don’t always agree all the time, I’m truly grateful for our large network of nevus families.
I love knowing we have “family” in all corners of the planets. I adore looking at your photos on the Nevus Outreach Facebook page. I’m grateful that you are willing to share dirt on doctors. I value your insight on dealing with peer pressure and everything else that comes down the pike.