You’re a bright ray of sunshine, you know that? Last week, I read about a guy named Kevin McGuire, who has leukemia, and his sister’s quest to get you to take him to his prom. I knew in my heart that you wouldn’t let him down, and the next day, sure enough, you had responded. You politely declined the prom invite but did him one better: you asked him to be your date at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Every now and then, people surprise you – but I can’t say this surprised me very much. I know you’re interested in helping bring more awareness to childhood cancer because I read Maya Thompson’s blog – I know you met her a while back at one of your concerts and I know you know about her baby boy, Ronan, who passed away last May from neuroblastoma.
When I read about people like you – people with hearts of gold and the beauty and talent to match – it makes my heart soar. I am a fan of your music, because you write about real things, things that are close to your heart. You write about things that matter to you and then you go on and sing about it for the world to enjoy. Part of this, I get because that is how I want to be as well. I can’t sing, but I sure can write. I am a neuroblastoma survivor. I was diagnosed back in January 1983, when I was almost sixteen months old. I survived, yes, but not without consequences – I am physically handicapped (mobility impaired, though I can walk), with hearing loss and a speech impairment. I was not born this way – my doctors back in the 1980s were so concerned about the cancer that they neglected to notice that I had two really bad ear infections that escalated into a viral infection. This infection attacked and damaged my brain stem, causing my disabilities. I also have scoliosis from the radiation they gave me back then, and after 4 spinal fusion surgeries (3 partial, one full), it is under control. I have younger siblings, who helped me get to where I am today, as independent as I can be. I’ve graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and it is my ultimate goal to be a published novelist soon.
Maybe you’ll never read this – and I am okay if you don’t – but I had to put it out there. I am eating, sleeping, breathing childhood cancer these days, and I will continue to talk about it until my dying day and/or until people start listening and it starts getting the attention it so needs. It’s the fight of my life now. Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death among children, and yet it is grossly underfunded. Basically, I think the only ones who are talking about it are the ones who are affected by it – and if someone doesn’t need to think about it, he or she doesn’t, period. I follow a lot of sick kids on Facebook, and it is always a huge blow when one of them dies. Childhood cancer is more than just statistics. It is names and faces and little hands. It steals innocence. It took away Ronan, Riley, Saoirse, Sierra, Jessica, Elena, Ethan, Faith, Ben, Joey, RJ, and countless others WAY too soon. All of those children never had a chance. Every day of the week, 46 kids are diagnosed and every single day, 7 more of them die. I know I don’t have to talk you into anything, because you got there all on your own. I know what you are doing for Kevin McGuire, and I love you so much for that. More people in the entertainment business should be like you. More people should be like you, period.
Thank you for sharing your heart with the world.