Today is the first day of October, and also the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, you would have thought that last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, because when you went out, to the store, you didn’t see gold anything, just pink, and sometimes even a sea of pink. And amid all that pink, we often forget that men get breast cancer too. I know that saying: “Real men wear pink.” After all, women wear blue, right? But seriously. At the very least, put it to the vote.
I am first and foremost a childhood cancer advocate because I am a childhood cancer survivor. And I’ll be the first to admit that all cancer is bad. It’s horrible. It makes me want to put my family and friends in boxes and lock them up safe. But I know that won’t keep cancer away from them. Nothing I can do right now can keep cancer away. All my fellow childhood cancer advocates and I want is equal funding for childhood cancer, because childhood cancer is not just one disease, but 12 different ones. And those types of pediatric cancer have many, many, many subtypes. I have asked this repeatedly before and I will keep asking it until I get an answer or something changes: In what universe is less than 4% of federal funding enough?
Cancer is not a contest. It’s not a competition to see who can scream the loudest. It’s simply a disease, one that NO ONE should have, especially in this day and age. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, even my worst enemy. And I bet if someone asked Nancy Brinker, the sister of Susan G. Komen, and the founder of the foundation, what she thought about childhood cancer, she would say that it’s horrible. At least, I hope she would. Like I said before, whatever Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation has done and is still doing is working, Other cancer advocates can learn from them. Instead of condemning them and being resentful of the pink that engulfs the world in October, we should be watching them, studying them. Once upon a time, they were just like us. They were just starting out.
I’ve been in this fight for the gold for almost three years now. We’re getting somewhere. Taylor Swift helped give childhood cancer a face with her very moving and tear-inducing song “Ronan.” She performed it live on the 2012 Stand Up to Cancer telethon. And somehow, we got it to the #1 selling spot on Itunes after. We worked together, all of us childhood cancer advocates and all the people who loved a certain blue-eyed boy who lost his life to cancer just before his 4th birthday. It turns out that you don’t have to know someone to love them. You just have to open your heart to them, and love comes in. Ronan is, and always will be, very special to me, not because he died, but because he lived. He lived! His life may have been cut tragically short, but he will never be forgotten.
The color of the neuroblastoma ribbon is purple, and purple was Ronan’s favorite color. I may have survived the disease that killed him, but in no way does that make me stronger than him. He was so strong. So unbelievably strong. All these children are. What kills me is the fact that they shouldn’t have to be. I would dearly love to meet Ronan’s mama, Maya Thompson, someday, It would be an amazing honor, because not only is she a voice still for Ronan and other kids stricken with cancer, but she is also badass role model as well. She’s right… if we want to be heard, we have to shrug off what people say about us, and just do things. Go our own way, so to speak. When I wrote to her on Facebook in the summer of 2011, after Ronan passed away, she responded with these words: “You and Ronan will forever share a special secret. You were kept here on this earth to do amazing things. He was taken away, but I refuse to let his message go unheard.”
As do I, Maya. As do I.