I am writing this not to get an auto-stamped autograph (I know you stopped signing them personally years ago when they got to be to much and I understand why), but to ask you something really important: Will you seriously consider becoming a childhood cancer advocate? What you once said is true – “You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” Childhood cancer is one of those things that people choose not to see until it happens to them, to their child, niece, nephew, grandchild, or a friend’s child. They choose not to see until they are forced to look. I hope you will not be one of these people. I hope you will look and see the truth for yourself. And I hope you will want to help. On average, 46 children are diagnosed a day, every single day. And on average, 7 children die every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I know you are a father, that you have two children, Lily Rose and Jack. I know you are the kind of father who will do anything for them. Will you set an example for them, and help give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, who cannot vote? I am a childhood cancer survivor myself, and now I am a advocate. I had neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumor cancer found in children. I was diagnosed when I was 15-16 months. After two major surgeries, a harsh chemotherapy and radiation protocol, I had two really bad ear infections that escalated to a viral infection called encephalitis. It damaged my brain stem, leaving me with physical disabilities, hearing loss, and a speech impediment. And as I grew, I developed severe scoliosis from the radiation because they only exposed half of my spine to it, and half of it grew and half of it didn’t. I lost everything at age two and a half, but I didn’t give up. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today – I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, and I have big dreams of spreading awareness through my writing. Today, I am almost 31 years old and working very hard, hoping to see the end of childhood cancer in my lifetime.
Did you know that the government gives less than 4% of the annual $3 billion given to medical research to childhood cancer? And did you know there are twelve different types of childhood cancer? So you see, there isn’t any way that less than 4% of $3 billion is enough. Childhood cancer is more than smiling bald kids you see on television commercials. It is pain. It is tears. It is the child being too weak to get out of bed, of being isolated from their friends and from the world because they have no immune system. It is throwing up repeatedly and losing their hair and weight when they can’t really afford to. It’s having to hold still for x-rays and scans and radiation. Cancer leaves scars on the body and also on the soul, no matter how old the child is.
I know you don’t want to imagine your own kids as being sick, and I don’t want you to either. 46/7 is not rare – it is an epidemic. Will you stand up with me? The last part of your quote above – “you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel” is very true as well. Will you do me a favor? I know you are a very busy man, but will you please go to your local children’s hospital and play with the children and make them laugh, talk to their parents, even? I know of one little boy named Wes who just loves you. He is six and he lives in Virginia with his mama and daddy and little brother. Last summer, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and is kicking its butt! He has his own army on Facebook, thanks to his wonderful mama.
Please become an advocate for Wes and the others who need you! Kids cannot fight cancer alone. I would be delighted if you started a trend in Hollywood by taking a stand for the children. It begins with one. Just one. Will you be that one for us?