When a Fighter Tee is mailed, I often know why the recipient needs it, but it is rare that I hear how their journey continues. A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a fighter’s wife - her husband received one of our first prototype shirts two years ago. Sadly, she and I now share the title of widow. She shared with me that her husband had received his shirt, and passed away while wearing it a short time later. Overcome with emotion, the tears started flowing! It is a pain I know...a memory I share. I felt humbled, saddened, and yet so grateful that she reached out to tell me her story.
She explained to me that the Fighter Tee made such a difference for her husband, and how nice it was to see him in something other than a hospital gown. She told me that she was working to make T-shirt quilts for her children in memory of their father, and that she needed something from me before she could finish them. She couldn’t complete the quilts until she had a “FAITH” Fighter-Tee to place in the middle of each one - just like the one her husband was wearing as he fought so hard. To know that the Fighter Tee had made an impact on not just the fighter, but on the most important people in his life as well left me speechless. That one special shirt was the symbol that they would cherish and remember their father by forever.
This story is FIYA - it is so much more than a shirt. It matters what your loved ones wear as they fight their illness. It affects their morale, and it affects how you see them, too. This business is not easy - in fact, most days it is really tough. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the emotional, financial, and mental difficulties to keep FIYA moving forward. Thankfully not every FIYA story ends this way, but is is a reality that some do. I press on because I know what it is to see a loved one reduced to a diagnosis, desperate to feel like a person again. FIYA is about standing together as fighters, even when our battles may be very different. It is about providing hope, normalcy, and support to people who have forgotten what it feels like not to suffer. FIYA starts with a shirt, and ends with a story.