Day 30 - Children's cancer Awareness Month

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This is Michael. Today is the last day of September, and the last day of Childhood cancer Awareness Month. I can't say that it has been fun or that I have enjoyed it; every year, I say that it has further educated me, and hopefully you, as to what is going on in the world and in our country with respect to those kids and their families unfortunate enough to be struck with cancer. It has certainly done one thing for sure:  solidified the commitment of our family to helping Cannon beat cancer and grow up to be a healthy boy and man, helping others that find themselves in the same horror story, and to forever raise awareness of children's cancer issues and funding for research that is critical to improving treatment methods and finding a cure.

Over the past two years, Melissa and I have detailed Cannon's continuing journey --- our return and continuing rehabilitation from his surgery in New York, his   chemotherapy and stays at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital, his nearly one week stay for a post chemo fever, his twice a week trip to the outpatient clinic, his blood and platelet transfusions, the 3 month stay in Philadelphia for stem cell transplant and how difficult and harsh that was for Cannon, and his good days and his not so good days.  

His journey has been like the other children with cancer, unfortunately:  He had days of play and smiles, but during that treatment, he had more of nausea, severe vomiting, diarrhea, pain from his incision, pain from his medications, continuously woken during the night while in the hospital by nurses doing their jobs or at home by me, having to sit him up while sleeping and inject horrible medicines in his mouth at intervals during the night, and needle biopsies and radiation scans that required sedation. And, not to forget, all the needle injections that we had to give him at home daily, sometimes twice. Pain and misery suffered by a child, and I just wish that more would take a short visit to a children's hospital and visit the oncology floor and see our kids with cancer --- it would change our focus as a society, and it would create new heroes in our world among those that currently have none. 

I hope that the post I wrote on the “Cost of cancer” detailing the outrageously long list of medications, treatments and therapies opened some eyes as to what a child with cancer endures… yes, endures. And I hope that the post I wrote called “DNR” outraged all of you to the point of action. Hanging a sign on a child’s wrist instructing all to let the child die because we as a society have chosen not to adequately fund research to prevent the death is morally bankrupt and should be ended, quickly. And that is the purpose of why we do what we do for Cannon and all the kids with cancer on behalf of Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation.  

Last year, some video was shot of Melissa and me recounting our journey with Cannon and why we have fought for Cannonball Kids' cancer Foundation. Some of that was reading posts that we have written in the past, primarily during Cannon's stays in the various hospitals he has been in across the country. On this last day of the month, I want to talk about all of of these children and the fact that they are the TRUE heroes in our world --- along with our military, our police and firemen and first responders, no others deserve it more. Here is that video, and the script is below:

https://vimeo.com/97463408

When I was a kid, my hero was a baseball player named Mike Schmidt. Mike Schmidt played third base for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1970's and 80's, and was a Major League All Star in 12 different years, hit 548 career home runs and is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I remember many days and nights as a kid, listening to my radio and hearing the broadcast of another super home run hit by Mike Schmidt for my favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies. I wanted to grow up and play third base and be Mike Schmidt. Even as an adult, I always said my hero was Mike Schmidt. 

I have a new hero in my life. In fact, many new ones. It is Cannon, and all these kids that suffer from cancer. I have witnessed so many of them screaming in pain, crying in the middle of the night or early in the morning, exhausted because of continual sticking, prodding and examining, vomiting in their sleep and the fear in their eyes that no child should experience. I have said before that I truly don't understand human suffering; I just don't get it. It is more so in children. The admiration that I have for these kids is beyond my ability to describe it. It has brought tears to my eyes. 

I have walked the halls of Arnold Palmer, Sloan Kettering, New York Presbyterian and Shands University hospitals at all hours of the day and night. I have seen babies, infants, toddlers, kids and teenagers, all with bald heads, their eyes sunken and dark circles underneath, no eyebrows and malnourished --- and all with ports or broviacs or some way to access them intravenously to continuously take blood samples, infuse new blood, or pump more drugs into them. All to live. Just to live...   just to play one more day, or to be able to go home to brothers and sisters or to go back to school. And do you know how they complain? They complain with their tears, and I walk down these halls and I see these kids and tears are streaming down their cheeks, and it rips your guts out. I've walked into Cannon's room and seen him listless on a hospital bed, tears running down to his neck. And he is 2.

Yes, I admire the courage of these kids, and the absolute hell that is the children's cancer world, and they are my heroes. Looking for a hero? Take the elevator someday to the 9th floor of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York and it will open to a huge glass encased play room. And it will be filled with 15 or 20 or more bald heads of children with cancer. Or walk 5 blocks north and walk into the lobby of the Ronald McDonald House on East 73rd in New York, and see the families coming and going as they head to or return from treatment at Sloan. These are the heroes --- the kids trying to live, pulling their own IV pumps along the floor and the families trying all they have and giving everything they've got, literally, to save their kid's life.

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Childhood cancer Awareness Fact of the Day:  The average age of those diagnosed with the ten most prevalent adult cancers is 65 years of age. The average age of death of men and women combined is 77. Cancer represents the loss of life of an average of 12 years per case. The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6 and the average age of children that die from cancer is 8. Cancer represents the loss of life of nearly 70 years per child.   

Source:  Curesearch.org,  People Against Children's' Cancer (PAC2). 

Really nothing more to say to that statistic other than no society should morally or ethically allow it. Period. If I died next year of cancer, I would say I have lived a very good life and was fortunate to see a lot of the world, have an awesome family and meet a lot of great people. But a child that dies experiences none of it. That is wrong, and any system, government, industry or profession that chooses adults over children because there are more and are more profitable is wrong, morally and ethically. Thank you to all who have followed the posts during this month, and especially to those that have taken the facts I have gathered and discussed and made others aware, participated in an awareness event or donated their time, money or blood for children's cancer. I'll go back now to my once-every so often of posting, but rest assured I will not stop my efforts to continue to raise awareness for kids' cancer issues and  correct this wrong. Melissa and I and all of us at CKc have a mission and passion ---- we will save Cannon first, and then we will spend the rest of our lives helping children with cancer and their families. Someday there will be drugs developed specifically for children with cancer and on a yearly basis; someday there will be more federal funding of each of the individual types of children's cancer; someday research and medicine will be developed to be preventative and curative of each of the children's cancers; and someday, parents won't bury their children because not enough cared, thought the numbers weren't high enough or got it done because it was right and just and not because kids aren't old enough to vote and have no voice.

Last, we are always asked for Cannon, for kids with cancer, for Cannonball Kids' cancer Foundation:  "What can we do?" Here is the answer:  Pray. It costs nothing, and would mean more to us than any gift, toy or any other gesture towards Cannon or our family. I just want my son to live, and I want a cure for cancer in children, but I know that it can't happen without prayer and the Divine Mercy of Christ. Thank you to all who have done so in the past and to those of you who continue every day (and there have been so many). Thank you. Truly, thank you.  

Please help Melissa and me and CKc to continue to raise awareness for children's cancer. Don't stop just because September is over. Every day, remember that at least five children will die and five sets of parents, grandparents and small brothers and sisters will have lost their most precious blood. It is unjust. And it is unnecessary. For all the parents who have lost a child to cancer, and for all of us that are fighting every single day not to, please help us and tell others about childhood cancer, continue to donate blood, time, money and your efforts to help fund research so that someday this torture of our kids will end. It can be done. It can happen. Believe in it and never quit. Don't ever give up and help us, so that someday, someday... cancer in children will not exist. For Cannon, Patrick, Ava, Ella,  Calin, Sally, Parker and ALL those fighting, do it. Honor the souls and memories of the TRUE HEROES --- Sal, Eddie, Oscar, Addison, Talia, Christopher, Cole, Brooke and ALL the kids that have gone to heaven because of children's cancer.  

Do it. Honor them. Stand Up for Kids. Stand Up.

Thank you.