You may note the words of inspiration on our homepage: “Imagine a world without Childhood Cancer.” This goal is what we all work for and work towards. The hope held in this mantra provides us the strength to keep going during the toughest of times.
It occurs to me, though, that the challenging aspect of imagining such a world is that first we must imagine our world with childhood cancer, which is not an altogether easy task. When I was growing up, my mother worked as a fundraiser with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am embarrassed to report that I remained oblivious to the world that these families and children were entering and enduring. Frankly, before my daughter was diagnosed with AML (an aggressive form of leukemia), our family was blind to the devastation that cancer wreaks on families.
Recently, downtown Atlanta was devastated by a tornado. In many ways, childhood cancer is a similar type of storm. We are all aware that these types of storms exist, and our hearts sink for the families whose homes have been destroyed and whose loved ones have been lost. But tornadoes are targeted in their impact, often devastating one side of a street, while leaving the other side untouched. As a result of this “randomness,” we may not internalize the completeness of these storms’ devastating impact on families — at least not beyond an initial emotional reaction. The reality is that these storms impact families and communities for years beyond the two days of news coverage that they receive.
Similarly, childhood cancer hits families in an unpredictable and random way. Its impact is long lasting. It takes a community to rebuild a family devastated by this disease. In the wake of childhood cancer lie destroyed careers, strained relationships, damaged balance sheets; a doubting faith, and far too often – the lives of our precious children.
NOW, with full understanding of its horror, let us recognize the magnificence and beauty of a world without Childhood Cancer.
Alan D. Thomson
Father of Hayley Thomson, Feb 2003 – Dec 2004