Ok boys and girls…..this is gonna be one of the most heart-wrenching blogs that I’m likely to write.  I’ve attached several links within and they will make you cry and mourn the loss of two beautiful children and grieve for the families who miss them every day.  So grab a tissue (or thirty) and have a damn seat.

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month.  Most of you may not even be aware of this…..and that’s ok…..because me sharing this with you breeds knowledge and understanding.   And this is one of the most important moments to be aware and understand.

I’m fortunate in that I do not have a child who has been diagnosed with cancer.  But there are far too many families with small children who aren’t as fortunate.  Cancer is an evil motherfucker and cares not a bit  that the body that its ravaging belongs to a tiny tot or a pre-teen or a high school Junior who’s only just begun to grasp the concept of adulthood.

This time last year, I was just a regular parent who was so busy enjoying (mostly enjoying) my young penis people that pediatric cancer barely registered on my radar.  I was one of those people who KNEW it existed, but since I was not personally touched by its bastard grip, I viewed it with a sense of detached sentiment.  I felt bad for those kids….those families….to be certain.  But beyond the perfunctory “Oh, that’s so sad” I barely really noticed them.  Sad but true.

And then, through Nikki on MWDAS, I was “introduced” to Mary Tyler Mom and her bright and beautiful little girl Donna.  Little Donna had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor at the age of 19 months old.  She passed away when she was only 4 1/2 years old, in October of 2009.  She fought hard…..but Cancer is an asshole that sometimes fights harder….and dirtier……and NEVER plays fair.  Donna’s mom, Sheila, spent September of 2011 chronicling the final thirty-one months of Donna’s life…….each day last September represented one month worth of memories…….stories that were happy and sad……detailed explanations of how hard Donna had fought…..and the heartache of a family trying so hard to hold on to their precious child.  Mary Tyler Family started a foundation to honor Donna….its called Donna’s Good Things.  They encourage others to do good things and raise money for research in Donna’s precious memory.   I have included the link here….this is Donna’s Cancer Story. You should read this…you should be sharing this story.   It is heartbreaking…..and when you finish the story, you will find that Donna has become a part of your heart.  You won’t forget her…….and you shouldn’t!  After reading that story last year, I found I couldn’t “shake” the image of Donna.  This year, Huffinton Post re-ran MTM’s story to honor Donna and bring awareness to the kids who are still fighting…..and the ones that lost……to Pediatric cancer.

Not long ago, in the midst of my sharing the shit outta Donna’s story in the hopes to bring further awareness to my small little corner of the world, I stumbled across a blog called Rockstar Ronan.  Its written by Maya, the mother of  a beautiful little boy who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer in August of 2010, at the age of three.  He passed away 8 months later, in May of 2011, when he was only 4 yrs. old.  Like Donna, he was far too young and was stolen from his family far too soon.  His mother writes her blog as if she is writing letters to her son….every blog begins “Ronan…..” and she closes every blog post with “I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. I love you to the moon and back, baby doll.  xoxo”.  You can feel the pain pouring out of her heart and into the words.  You will find yourself crying with her….crying for the tremendous loss of an amazing child that you didn’t even know…In the midst of their grief, Ronan’s family also started The Ronan Thompson Foundation to raise funds and awareness.  And if you haven’t seen or heard it yet….Taylor Swift (with the words provided by Ronan’s mom) wrote a song called “Ronan” (this is the video and the lyrics) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoRa1yreGQo&sns=fb .   It’s available for purchase exclusively on Itunes and all proceeds go to fight childhood cancer. It is moving and beautiful and his laugh will pull at your heart-strings….and you will be tethered to him thereafter.

I ask that you click on each of the links above.  Be MOVED…..be pissed off that these beautiful little ones aren’t here any more. I guess what I’m trying to do here is to impress upon you all that these beautiful little ones are only two stories in the vast fucked up world of pediatric cancer.  Pediatric cancer steals the lives of more than 2500 children each year, making it the NUMBER ONE cause of death in children and adolescents.  These numbers are staggering and is the reason that greater awareness needs to be made……because more awareness generates more money to fund research….research that is SO desperately needed.  Pediatric Cancer research is one of the most under-funded and least recognized of all the cancers.  And that’s WRONG!!!!  Donna’s mom often types “Cancer can suck it” when she shares a picture of Donna or tells her story.  Ronan’s mom is more direct still and simply says “FUCK CANCER”…..their foundation even has Rockstar Ronan bracelets available for purchase that say FUCK CANCER.  And BOTH of these moms are right!!!

I know that when you are the parent of a healthy child, it’s very easy to take for granted their health and the fact that they are here.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day bullshit.  You probably feel sad that children are dying, but there is laundry to be done and dinners to be made and you get lost in the mundane tasks of the day.  Because that was how I felt.  Briefly sad, but mostly detached.

After these stories, these realities….I found myself on more than one sleepless night trying to imagine the pain these families feel.  I shed endless tears at the very idea of imagining a life without either of my children.  I often cried like I never have before.  But at the end of those endless streams of tears….in rooms just feet away from my own…lie my babies.  Safe in their beds.  Not sick and not dying.  And while I felt immense relief for that, I also could NOT deny the fact that these families had more tears than I will every know…..and their babies are gone.  And that is why we cannot just simply forget about them.  We have to hold them in our hearts and use that immense sadness to push for far more funding for pediatric cancer…..far more research…..far more awareness. I’m pissed off that cancer stole these children’s’ lives….stole them from their loving families.  And pissed off people can move mountains!

Here are a few links that you can go to and find out how to donate money…..push for better funding…..organize a fundraising event.

St. Baldricks  This is one of the largest organizations helping to fund research for pediatric cancer.  PS – I’ll be shaving my head in 2013 and all donations will be going to St. Baldricks for Team Donna’s Good Things.  Look for me to hit you up for donations then!

St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital  St. Jude is the first institution established for the sole purpose of conducting basic and clinical research and treatment into catastrophic childhood diseases, mainly cancer. St. Jude continues to be the only National Cancer Institute–funded cancer center devoted solely to children.

Make Some Noise:Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation  The Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation was established by a child with cancer with one purpose in mind: to fund pediatric cancer research.

Don’t let these two precious children slip quietly from your memory.  Let the loss of their lives make you a very loud voice in the battle to fight pediatric cancer.  Let them live in your heart and make you fight!  I ask that each of you share this blog on your Facebook page……encourage your friends to share it too!  These two stories need to be heard…..these two familes need to see that people care about the loss of their children.   And we need to make sure that children with cancer….children who have died of cancer…..have a louder bunch of voices pushing for more federal funds!