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Triumph Over Tragedy: The Annual Letter

Columnist Sarah Frank shares what happened with her family in 2011.

It’s that time of the year as we reflect on 2011 and look ahead to 2012. Traditionally, my family sends out Christmas cards each year complete with a lengthy letter updating family and friends of all that we’ve been up to. Last year, though, to save money and save paper, we opted to send holiday cards and our annual holiday letter via email. This year, I want to share some of our family’s happenings with you, my readers.

In 2011, the Frank family celebrated many milestones!

Aiden turned 5 and started kindergarten. Our twins, Jack and Drew, turned 7 and became second graders. My husband Dan celebrated his 40th birthday in July while we were in Hawaii.

Hawaii, in itself, was another celebration of milestones for us. Dan and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the exact same day we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dan’s craniotomy to rid his brain of a cancerous brain tumor. What a way to celebrate three milestones within 10 days of each other!

Another milestone was the beginning of my writing “career” as I began writing for San Ramon Patch last March, after emailing the former editor to ask her to write a piece on my family’s annual participation in the 5k Bay Area Brain Tumor Walk in San Francisco each May.

Instead, I was asked if I wanted to write my own family’s story, and that was the start of a newfound passion — writing. My article was so popular I was asked to write a weekly column, “Triumph Over Tragedy” about other families like my own who have beaten the odds. I was soon asked to write even more and gladly agreed.

Life continues to be busy but full of joy for each of us. For five-year-old Aiden, he has found a love of playing sports. He was on the Cheetahs soccer team, Warriors basketball team, and Rangers T-ball team. He also has become an avid Sharks fan and loves watching Sharks highlights on television and attending a few ice hockey games.

Jack has also continued his passion for sports. He played A-Ball on the Nationals, and is now a part of the Warriors basketball team. He also excelled at soccer and was even asked to be on the All-Star soccer team, Arsenal. He has discovered a love of reading and cannot put down books by Dan Gutman.

Drew also played A-ball on the Nationals and is now on the Warriors basketball team too. Drew took gymnastics lessons and had a blast. He is still a train fanatic and even published his own YouTube video about trains at the Sunol train yard. He knows his trains and has even edited an adult train book, pointing out that some of the dates were in fact incorrect and were not caught by the editor!

My husband, Dan, continues to be very active in Jack, Drew, and Aiden’s lives — the silver lining to having a brain tumor and not working. He gets to be a full-time dad and volunteer in all of the boys’ classrooms. He is also on the executive PTA and School Site Council. In addition, he has been the coach or assistant coach of virtually all the sports teams our boys have been a part of. Needless to say, Dan stays very busy!

I continue to teach first grade full-time. Over the last year, I have received numerous grants or funding for iPads and other learning tools for my classroom. I’ve truly been blessed that donors have supported the grants I’ve written through donorschoose.org! As mentioned, I’ve also discovered a passion for writing. Besides teaching and writing, I am lucky to be Drew’s room mom. I also organize the SCRIP gift card program for the entire school where our children are enrolled.

For all of us, life is busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! We just returned from a short vacation to San Diego, where we rejoiced in spending time as a family. Life takes each of us on all kinds of paths—some rocky and some smooth. Yet, at the holidays and throughout the year, embracing each and every moment and living life to the fullest is essential. No matter who you spend the holidays with, always know that we each have a tale to tell and triumphs of our own we’ve already overcome or perhaps might be confronted with in 2012 and beyond!

Samantha Dube December 26, 2011 at 06:36 PM
I love your column. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Best wishes for a happy 2012!
Sarah Frank December 26, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Thanks for reading--Happy Holidays and cheers to the New Year!

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