This is Michael. Today is the Eve of Christmas, and Melissa and I have 4 kids in the house, ready for Christmas. The packages are wrapped, the food is ready in the refrigerator and our hearts are full with gratitude for what we have. On this day last year, we were in Philadelphia and Cannon was up early to put on several layers of clothes (all the while trying hard not to pull out his feeding tube), so that we could take him to radiation that morning. I remember walking Cannon across the South Street bridge in Philadelphia in his stroller. Cannon is no fan of cold weather, and on this day a year ago, it was particularly cold and windy, and there was snow and ice on the ground and on some sidewalks from a storm a few days earlier. He cried almost the whole way from center city Philadelphia to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We couldn’t put Cannon in a taxi because he had no immune system after the stem cell transplant.
When we got to the hospital, Cannon had lost one of his gloves, his cheeks and face were red from cold and crying, and his Dad wasn’t doing much better. And that was the easy part. Within the hour, Cannon’s port was accessed again with a ¾” needle in his chest, and soon I was instructed to hold him so that he could be given, for the 14th day out of the last 20, a drug that made him look at me blankly and scared, and then his eyes rolled back and he fell limp in my arms. I once again laid him on the table, he was strapped down, and then wheeled away to receive radiation to several spots in his body that still showed active cells of cancer or spots where relapse could occur. I never got used to seeing my son put to sleep and strapped to a gurney; it makes my guts churn and my eyes well even now typing this message about it. An hour later, Cannon was wheeled back and he woke up, and Melissa came to the hospital after spending the morning with Nicole and the twins in our hotel rooms in center city Philadelphia. We walked back in the cold and gray of a Philadelphia December day. That was Cannon’s Christmas Eve.
That was a year ago. Melissa has an app on her phone that each day pulls up photographs stored from a year ago. Recently, they have featured Cannon after stem cell transplant and during radiation during our several months at CHOP. It has been difficult to look back on them. But, in perspective, a year later, Cannon is a playful and happy 3 year old boy that will celebrate the birth of Christ tomorrow with his siblings, and Melissa and I are grateful beyond our ability to describe it.
I write this message today to thank everyone who reads this page, sends us texts, emails, cards, notes and gifts for the kids. It is overwhelming some days to see the generosity and compassion (and passion) that people in our world have for our kids and Cannon. We could never say thanks enough, but it is truly one of the reasons we founded Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation--- to repay or pay forward what we have received. Of course, the primary focus for us is to make a difference and solve the outrage of cancer in children, but we do so in some way because we OWE it to those that didn’t have the opportunity to save their child’s life, won’t have their child this Christmas because cancer stole them, and because in the end, cancer in children is not just. I told the story of Cannon’s Christmas Eve one year ago for one reason: to show the hell that children with cancer endure (and that day was an “easy” day for Cannon compared to what he and other kids normally go through during cancer treatment).
Today, Christmas Eve, over 40 children will be diagnosed with cancer. Despite the day, 7 children will die. Tommorow, 7 more --- on Christmas day. It is wrong, and we want to do something about it and think and believe that we can. It’s why we will never stop fighting for these kids and their families and why we started Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation (CKc).
Melissa and I know that during this time of year, you are asked to give to many worthy organizations. We hope you will consider Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation when making year end charitable donations. By investing in CKc, you will help fund research that will someday bring to an end the suffering of children diagnosed with 12 types of cancer known only in children. Your gift, large or small, plays an essential role in making research grants possible, and helps us continue our efforts to legislate reform so that research conducted will be more focused and effective for children. To all those that have already so graciously given, thank you, thank you. Melissa and I will be forever grateful, but know that you will help make a difference. It can happen, and we believe it will.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.
Saint Peregrine, JoeJoe, Eddie, Nicholas, Bella, Talia, Cole, Erin, Gabriella, Tommy, Addison, Abigail, Christopher, Jayson, Landon, Salvatore, Zoe, Brooke, Laney and all the angels and saints, please pray for Cannon, Patrick, Ethan, Princeton, Ava, Oscar, Sabrina, Sophia, Sophie, Andy, Calin, Parker, Ayven, Sebastian, Ellen, Ella, Austin, Braden, Nora, Nate, Theo, Maggie, Jacob, Gage, Jace, Makayla, Angel and all those who suffer from cancer.