Two children, one front yard and huge hearts of compassion. This is the story of The Bissell Family.
9 years ago, Jaime and Johnny Bissell ages 8 and 5 at that time, decided to have a little fun in their front yard and have a “fair complete with cotton candy and lemonade stands. Who knew or could have imagined at the time that this would be the beginning of an incredible journey in their lives as well as that of their parents. That first year, the children made $20. Not knowing what to do with the money they decided to donate it to cancer research. Over the next few years, the “fair” continued to grow and start taking on a life of it’s own with more and more people coming to their little front yard in El Dorado Hills.
A few years into their annual fair, the Bissell’s made the decision to donate all proceeds to the work of Dr. Ernie Bodai and his Cure Breast Cancer Inc. foundation. The fair has now taken on incredible life and meaning. One fair, brought in over $7500 in proceeds for research! What started out as a simple little fun time, has turned into an amazing charity.
Two children with big hearts are changing lives. Now ages 16 and 14, Jaime and Johnny are continuing on with their endeavor in hopes to help those that are so desperately touched by this disease.
One of the lives that they never thought would be touched so dramatically by their efforts, ended up being that of their own mother Robin. Here was a family that had dedicated themselves once a year to Breast Cancer Research, and Robin, at age 40, was diagnosed with the disease. What had turned out to be a family affair to help others, turned into being a family affair to save mom as well.
“I can remember being in Borders when I received the call.” Robin stated. “My first reaction was one of complete terror for about 30 minutes. I just dropped all the books in my hands. I will never forget looking back at my children as they stood there bewildered and scared holding hands not truly understanding what was happening.”
What happened next was a truly spiritual experience. “My father who had passed away...
I just knew he was there with me. It is hard to explain, but he was there with me and comforted me.” says Robin. “From that moment on, I knew I was going to be ok. Somehow or another, I was going to be ok”. Robin then called her husband John who thought she wasn’t telling the truth for a minute. “She was just so calm, she is never like that and I thought, this must not be true” says John.
Over the next several months, Robin experienced all of what comes with such a diagnosis. On August 6, 2002, just two days before their fifth fair, Robin underwent a Lumpectomy, surgically removing the area just underneath her left armpit. Chemotherapy was started and Robin lost her hair. Each visit to the doctor, Robin could not help but notice the presence of her Dad right there with her. Even the nurses would comment on how she seemed to just get comforted each time and would notice the change in her. Robin’s son Johnny, just 10 at that point, and a brave little kid, would give Robin her daily shots.
“I will never forget those tiny hands holding that needle” said Robin. During that time, Robin had a Henna Tattoo of a vine of roses drawn around her head. She wasn’t going to hide the fact that she had cancer and she wasn’t going to stop being the person she knew she was. During that time of hair loss, so many strangers would come up to her and share their own stories just confirming to The Bissell’s how many people are effected by Breast Cancer.
Now in it’s 9th year, the fair has continued to grow. It is larger and larger every year. Dr Bodai attends every year and has even been know to be in the “dunk tank”. Last year, he was noticed watching the children lined up just to meet him. With tears in his eyes, he just shook his head in disbelief.
Four years after her diagnosis, Robin is cancer free. She thanks God and her Father for helping her along the way. As well, she thanks all the doctors and nurses and of-course her family for being who they are to her and so many others.
For more information on the Bissels Breast Cancer Fair,
Jaime and Johnny Bissell at