First, let me say that if there were any way for me to be in Charlotte, NC today, I would be there. Today is the 5th annual 5K race for kids cancer, sponsored by the Isabella Santos Foundation. This is the first 5K without Isabella, and I can’t even fathom how strong Erin and Stuart will have to be to survive today. The outpouring of support for this event has been absolutely amazing–Ib touched a lot of hearts–and I know it will be a great success and will raise a lot of money for neuroblastoma research and other related charities.
So I’ve gotten several messages about the “depressing” things I’ve been posting on Facebook about childhood cancer. A 13-year-old girl with stage 4 neuroblastoma deciding to give up treatment. A grandfather kissing his little grandson goodbye as he dies of cancer. Prayers for a 13-year-old boy named Lane Goodwin, who has received worldwide support via social media as he fights stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Posts from the mom of Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who’s also fighting alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s a lot of posts. It’s a lot of kids. And yes, it’s very depressing.
My first, initial, instinct was to maybe let up a little. But that thought was very quickly replaced by what has fueled me to do this in the first place. Of course childhood cancer is depressing. Um, hello? Kids dying of cancer? Yeah, it’s certainly it’s not a topic that lends itself to happy-happy-joy-joy posts on Facebook. But isn’t that the whole point? It’s easy to ignore the issue if people say it’s too depressing to face. But we can’t just keep ignoring it! Kids die every single day from cancer. Every. Single. Day.
They’re dying because research hasn’t caught up to their disease.
And research hasn’t caught up to their disease because there’s so little funding to propel it.
Isn’t that fact alone depressing all by itself?
People ask, “I know it’s depressing, but what can I do? I’m not a doctor!”
You don’t have to be a doctor to do something. It’s easy to do something.
You can talk about childhood cancer, even though it’s depressing. Make people aware. Lack of awareness of what childhood cancer REALLY looks like is the biggest barrier to getting necessary funding. Because no one’s talking about it, we’re allowing organizations like the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute to justify the lack of funding for kids’ cancers because “they’re too rare.”
You can give money–any amount you can afford–to organizations like The Isabella Santos Foundation (www.isabellasantosfoundation.org), the Ronan Thompson Foundation (www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com), St. Baldricks (www.stbaldricks.org), or the NB Alliance (www.nballiance.org), for example. All of the money they raise goes directly to fighting cancers that are killing children.
When people say my posts are depressing, then that means I’m doing what I set out to do. I’m sorry if my posts depress you. Every time I read one of these stories, they depress me too. But I’ve been working to turn that depression into anger. I’m angry that these beautiful kids KEEP DYING because THERE IS NO CURE for their cancers. That’s why I keep posting. Don’t get depressed. Get angry. Help me spread the word. Give money to causes that seek to find cures. Or don’t. The beauty of the Internet is that if you don’t like my posts, you can just ignore them.
But if you’re starting to get angry and really want to so something, how about instead of sending me messages about how depressing my posts are (and thereby insinuating that I should stop posting about it), how about doing your part to help eradicate childhood cancer by talking and giving and raising some hell about why our society is allowing these children to die?
And then, when our efforts FINALLY lead to cures for neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and all the other “blastomas” and “sarcomas” that are killing innocent kids, then maybe I won’t have anything depressing to post about. Until then, I’ll keep doing my part to raise awareness. For Isabella and Ronan who lost their fights, and for Bella and Talia and Lane and the thousands of others who are still fighting. Awareness is needed.
If these kids’ stories don’t convince you, consider that the word processor on this blog has the red line under the word “medulloblastoma.” It doesn’t recognize the word “medullablastoma”, and thus, thinks it’s misspelled.
Kids are dying from medullablastoma. But Wordpress doesn’t recognize the disease.