I debated whether or not to write about this, as the purpose of this blog is not to bash anyone but rather, to simply bring awareness to childhood cancer. In trying to determine whether it’s better to write or just let the matter go, I applied a method I use when trying to decide whether to buy something I want but don’t really need: If I’m still thinking about the item after a few hours, then I buy it. Well, it’s nearly 24 hours later and I’m still thinking about something I read yesterday, so I need to write.
I was referred via Twitter to the mission statement of Maya Thompson’s blog (www.rockstarronan.com), which, I assume, had been recently re-written or revised in some way, as I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before. I follow Maya’s blog religiously, not only because her son, Ronan, has seared my heart but because she is one of the main reasons that I’m (1) so vocal about raising awareness of and funds for childhood cancer research, and (2) determined to enjoy every single second with my daughters and not sweat the small, insignificant stuff (as dictated by her “how to live like a rockstar” mantra.)
When I read the revised mission statement for Rockstar Ronan, as always, I was touched by Maya’s words, passion, and sadness at having lost her beautiful boy to the bastard that is neuroblastoma. And then I began reading the comments, as I always do. And I was stopped in my tracks by someone who thought it was prudent to criticize Maya for her use of profanity, referring, apparently, to the closing sentence of the mission statement, “Fuck you, cancer.”
Though this reader claims to have watched his mother live with cancer for 12 years, he still was offended by Maya’s language. I was completely dumbfounded by this. This is a mother who had to watch her child die–an unimaginable horror–and this person decided the best course of action is to tell her how disappointed he is in her use of curse words and chastise her for her diction? Seriously? Do you really think Maya gives a rat’s ass about her language when she’s having to endure the loss of HER SON??
I know this guy’s in the minority. After all, I wear a one of Ronan’s “fuck you cancer” bracelets all the time–I never take it off. And dozens of people have curiously looked at it and when they saw those words and realized that Ronan was only 3 when he died, not one of them ever even thought to question the phrase. In fact, most echoed it.
Yet here’s this guy on Maya’s blog telling her he’s disappointed by her use of foul language.
This tells me two very important things. One, not everyone who visits Maya’s blog has actually read it, and two, far too many people still see childhood cancer as happy, smiling faces with bald heads. Or, three, people read the blog, know how Ro was killed by cancer, and still think their holier-than-thou, curse-words-are-bad approach to life trumps the nightmare that moms like Maya have had to endure.
To those who are offended by Maya’s more-than-appropriate use of the word “fuck” in relation to cancer, let me offer you some advice.
1. Don’t visit her blog. If you are offended by her words, then you don’t belong there.
2. If you choose to visit her blog, go back and read some of the posts dated in early May of 2011. Read about how cancer took Ronan away. Or read the Caring Bridge entry,”How did this happen?” (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/isabellasantos/journal/2), written by Erin Santos, whose daughter, Isabella, was killed by the same cancer that killed Ronan. Or visit http://www.superty.org and read the gut-wrenching words of Ty’s mom, Cindy. Then put yourself in Maya or Erin or Cindy’s place for a minute. If, after reading their heartbreaking words, you’re still offended by the word fuck, then you’ve got bigger problems than I can solve.
3. Imagine the last moments of the lives of children like Ronan Sean Thompson (3), Isabella Joanne Santos (7), Ty Louis Campbell (5), Lane Goodwin (13), or the thousands of other children like them who have been killed by cancer. Then imagine the unbearable, living-a-nightmare anguish of their parents, having to helplessly watch their children die and then, somehow, learn to wake up every agonizing day and move forward without them.
That this nightmare exists for so many parents is offensive. That cancer can do this and there’s no fucking cure for it is offensive. That only one new drug has been formulated for kids with cancer since the 1980s is offensive. That most people don’t realize that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is offensive. That the world isn’t lit up in gold to honor children with cancer is offensive.
Words are not offensive. Childhood cancer is.
So instead of being offended by Maya’s choice of words, be offended by childhood cancer.
And do something productive about it.