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:
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.