Last week, before I left for San Diego, I watched the movie “Contagion.” You know, the movie with the cast that included Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Matt Damon that came out last year. I cannot believe I watched the whole thing. I was fairly shocked what they did to Gwyneth Paltrow’s character (somebody tell Blythe Danner not to watch this one… if it is too late, then I feel like I should be apologizing to her and I had nothing to do with the making of this movie), and we do not even know what happened to Kate Winslet’s character. Did she die or was she saved? If you ask me, the whole thing was a mess. I do not recommend seeing it.
But the thing got me thinking: what if cancer was contagious? That would get people running around like chickens with their heads cut off (like they were in the movie) trying to find a cure. If neuroblastoma spread like wildfire amongst children, you can bet nobody would be sitting on their hands, hemming and hawing about it. And you can surely bet your last dollar that the government would be throwing more than THREE PERCENT of the allocated three billion dollars they give annually for medical research at it. The same goes for leukemia cases, brain tumors, bone cancers, etc, etc, etc. But guess what? Because only 46 children in this nation get diagnosed with cancer a day, it is not considered to be a huge threat. But if you ask me, that is 46 children too many, just like the 7 children who die every day because of it are 7 too many. I wish I could march around the country, picketing government offices. Would that work? Would these stubborn, ignorant officials pay more attention to this if I did? Chances are, I won’t be alone in this. Chances are, once people saw what I was doing, they would come and join me. If they didn’t, well, I would not want to be in their company anyway.
A child’s life is more precious than gold. That is why the childhood cancer awareness ribbon is gold, and that is why I fight. No child should have cancer, end of story. Kids should be allowed to be kids. I think that maybe people have a romanticized vision of what childhood cancer is, because they see the St. Jude’s commercials on television, and all the kids on there are bald, yet smiling, laughing, playing, etc. That is not childhood cancer. That is kids being kids despite having cancer. That is kids being kids because St. Jude’s lets them be kids, restores their carefree spirits. At least, most of the time, anyway. Childhood cancer is harsh – every bit as harsh as adult cancer, but even more so, because children often don’t know what is wrong with them. They are unaware of the monster that grows inside of them. And they fight. They fight so hard, struggling to remain children for as long as they can. And often, they lose parts of themselves along the way. That is what childhood cancer is. Kids have not done anything in their lives to deserve cancer. I read one blog by a mother of a baby who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma on both adrenal glands (kidneys) when she was just 12 weeks old. Yesterday, I read on this blog that sweet baby Mallory’s doctors were really stumped about it. They do not know how a baby gets cancer, and neither do I. It needs to stop. It needed to stop yesterday, but since it’s too late for that, today would be good… Any minute now, really.