A Childhood Cancer Survivor Blogging about the World of Childhood Cancer

Posts tagged ‘childhood cancer research’

A Night of Golden Lights at the White House- CurefestDC

Curefest 2014 252After the Curefest DC Welcome Event at Nationals Stadium, the attendees all headed to President’s Park across the street from the front of the White House. I never would have arrived without the help of Karla, who introduced me to my very first ride on the Metro. Since I live in an area where there are rolling hills, oak trees, strawberry fields, and cows grazing, this was an eye-opening city experience for me. I know it’s normal for people who live in DC and other cities to travel on underground railways, but I admit that my usual Podunk surroundings make it so I am utterly amazed by the setting and all the people! Thanks Karla– I would still be standing in the station with my mouth open.

Is it any surprise that A Night of Golden Lights is the brainchild of none-other-than Tony Stoddard? (A Day of Yellow and Gold to Fight Childhood CancerOur time together at this event was exceptional. I wish I knew the name of the singing group who sang “If I die Young” — it was beautiful! I do have this photo of the singers with Ellyn Miller (Smashing Walnuts Foundation) and her son.

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Mike Gillette, Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker from The Truth 365, helped organize the evening’s events with Tony Stoddard. Thank you, Mike and Tony, for your never-ending passion and energy for the kids.

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One of the most meaningful moments for me of Curefest DC came next. Tony began by telling us about his son, Cole. Cole died from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. I highly recommend reading this article Tony wrote for Cancer Knowledge Network, telling his story. https://cancerkn.com/promise-son/ Being present to hear Tony tell his story is something I will always carry inside me, and what followed next will stay with me forever. Parents and brothers and sisters took the stage to tell their stories. We need this. Giving these people a microphone and a caring, compassionate audience was beautiful. Each person who shared seemed comfortable that they were talking to a group who truly wanted to listen. We were all “family” on this night. We were all one. We were not separate. We were not alone.

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This tender and precious time of sharing set the tone for what we would do next… walk to the front of the White House.

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Slowly, almost somberly, the crowd began walking. I walked behind Tony, imagining what must be going through his mind and his heart. It was a time of reflection as our group neared our destination. If someone dropped a pin, we all would have heard it. It was a time of honor. It was a time of respect. It was a time of memory. It was a time of conviction that we need to do all we can to see that the pain and suffering present inside so many would not go without acknowledgement– would not wither without action or purpose.

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As we lit and lifted our golden lights together, we lifted our voices to sing, “Amazing Grace.” We sang the first verse through three times in a row. (Everyone chuckled when they announced we would do this because it is the only verse everyone knows!) A Night of Golden Lights at the White House was an evening I will always remember. I was wishing our president was not vacationing, so he and his family could look out their window and see hope for children with cancer. My next thought was, “It doesn’t matter.” What matters is that all of these people gathered with One Voice for our kids. 

To be among these people is life-changing. Each person I met left a piece of their heart in mine. I hope I was able to leave them a warm piece of my heart as well. 

Night of Golden Lights White House

Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Cincinnati Bengals – Coming Together For a Greater Purpose

Austin Munoz Moorpark Football Senior Night

Austin Munoz –Moorpark Football Senior Night

Dear Cincinnati Bengals,

Thank you.

As a parent of a childhood cancer survivor, I praise your recent decisions surrounding Devon Still and his daughter, Leah, who is fighting stage 4 neuroblastoma. No one knows the darkness of those words, “Your child has cancer,” than parents who have heard them. No one knows the hopelessness, the despair, the panic, or the chaos of that moment than parents who have lived it.

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“Dealing with cancer is like a whole different world.”

~Devon Still

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What you have chosen to do is a mark of excellence. Your decision to retain Devon— even when his mind and heart were quite understandably elsewhere— is top-notch. Your organization’s decisions demonstrate the strength of character, compassion, and integrity of those in your front office. If I could, I would hug each and every one of you. As I did, you would see the tears in my eyes that are now rolling down my cheeks. It’s hard for me to believe that not everyone makes choices like you have. It touches me deep into my soul to see you have chosen humanity over financial gain. I believe you will see this is a wise choice as well in the not-so-long-future. Devon will become an even better player than he has ever been. Once you have witnessed your child fight for their life, you become a warrior too… one who will move the heavens and Earth to accomplish your goals.

Cincinnati Bengals, you are one class act.

And you haven’t stopped there. Not only have you retained Devon, but you have gone an entire football field farther by stepping up to raise money for pediatric cancer research! This is a gift that will save children’s lives!

Leah will be in my prayers. Devon, his wife, and his family will all be in my prayers. The entire Bengal organization will be in my prayers of gratitude.

Thank you for kicking childhood cancer out of Paul Brown Stadium!

May many other organizations follow the lead you have taken. You have set a fine example of coming together for a greater purpose!

With sincere thanks and squishy hugs,

Lee Marchiano

Momcologist & Childhood Cancer Advocate

“It’s not all about competition. It’s not all about what you can do on the field, but we come together for a greater purpose.”

~Devon Still

youtu.be/xl0sjEWKYI8 

Photo shared from Twitter @dev_Still71

Leah Still

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http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/nfl/bengals/2014/09/14/cincinnati-bengals-devon-still-leah-still/15647737/

Help the Bengals SACK PEDIATRIC CANCER

https://www.pldgit.com/campaign/768450939739702307

Devon Still jersey– $15 goes to pediatric cancer research. (Over $400,000 raised in just four days!)

http://www.cincyshirts.com/cincyshirts//still-strong-devon-still-shirt.html

 

 

If Childhood Cancer was in Human Form…

Nurse Cyndi, the Blue Chemo Fairy

Nurse Cyndi, the Blue Chemo Fairy

The truths in my last post about what childhood cancer has in common with landing on the moon continue to circulate through my mind and heart. What speaks loudest to me is that we are ignoring the urgency of the need for cures for childhood cancer. There is so little awareness of childhood cancer that we accept “what is.” Many people assume that any child with cancer can go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and receive free treatment that will cure them for life.

Ugh.

There is no known cause for childhood cancer.

Getting a proper diagnosis for a child with cancer can be an all-out mission of searching.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, 80% have advanced stages of the disease, compared to 20% in adults.

Treatment for childhood cancers (if there is one) are ancient.

“Research for children with cancer-especially for those with solid tumors like sarcomas and brain cancer—lags nearly two decades behind their adult counterparts.”

~Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., Division Head, Division of Pediatrics, TheUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital

NCI funding for childhood cancer research has been dwindling, with a 30% decrease over the past decade. Pediatric cancer research receives a tiny 4% of the total NCI budget. This is critical. Federal funding for pediatric cancer research is vital, due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies do not see returns on their investments like they do for developing drugs to treat adult cancers. Virtually all the funding for pediatric cancer research comes from the NCI. Cuts to this budget greatly harm the Children’s Oncology Group and block medical discoveries that will lead to saving the lives of our children.

“Accounting for inflation, NCI’s funding has decreased by more than $1.1 billion (24.7 percent) since FY 2003.”

(The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)

Where I really want to go here is beyond the statistics. We are talking about children. We are talking about children who are fighting for their lives. We are talking about seven children dying from cancer each and every day in our country. We are talking about lack of research which means outdated treatments that cause a lifetime of suffering—if a child does indeed survive.

Imagine…

Imagine that childhood cancer was in human form, not disease form.

Would we carry on with our lives as if we had not a care in the world while an assassin showed up and killed 7 children each day in this country? Would we call in the FBI, the Navy Seals, and every single solitary team that could possibly snuff out this killer? Would we develop ways to protect our children from this evil monster? Would we wait a day, a week, a month, a year, to act? 

If childhood cancer was in human form, we would have already captured and killed it.

Just because childhood cancer is in disease form does not mean this is not urgent!

As I prepare to travel to Washington, D.C. next week for childhood cancer events, including Curefest, I keep thinking of Erin Griffin and Gabriella Miller. Both girls spoke at last year’s event. This year, they will not be able to attend in person. They will be viewing the event from heaven.

This IS urgent! THIS IS URGENT!

Sometimes I wish childhood cancer was in human form. I wish it could meet Mohammed Ali in his prime in the ring.

Pin The Bag of Chemo on the Mass

Pin The Bag of Chemo on the Mass

Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano

Something you can do today to help end childhood cancer:

https://www.curebraincancer.org.au/page/98/petition

http://4sqclobberscancer.com/2013/02/24/dear-congressman/

 

Mr. Jon Lester, Please Meet Mr. Tony Stoddard. Light Major League Baseball Gold for September

 

Red Sox Pitcher Jon Lester

Red Sox Pitcher Jon Lester

There was a story in the news last week that grabbed my attention because our family is what you call “a baseball family.” Melinda’s brothers played Little League ball, her dad coached, and she sat in the stands for countless games, cheering her brothers on. My first trip to a major league baseball game was to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park in Boston in the late 1960’s. Gosh, do I ever I remember the excitement of seeing the Green Monster and my favorite player, Yaz—Carl Yaztremski. So, when I read last week that Boston Red Sox pitcher, Jon Lester, is raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer, my Red Sox Fan Meter went sky high.
Jon Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodkins Lymphoma in 2006; now he and a few of his teammates, along with players from other teams, are working on a project called “Never Quit” to encourage children battling cancer. For many children, meeting a major league ballplayer would be the thrill of a lifetime. For children in cancer treatment to be able to meet Jon- a cancer survivor himself- has got to be highly inspirational and even healing.

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“Lester has big plans to expand the program, in Boston and beyond. He hopes to bring in players from other sports to help, especially in cities that don’t have baseball teams.”
                                                                                                                                                                      ~Don Fair, coordinating producer of Fox News’ Los Angeles bureau

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Is there anyone else thinking what I am thinking? I think Mr. Jon Lester needs to meet Mr. Tony Stoddard. In case you missed yesterday’s post about what Tony Stoddard is doing to help children with cancer, you must know!
https://gracemelinda.com/2014/04/07/a-day-of-yellow-and-gold-to-fight-childhood-cancer-tony-and-cole/
Every time I hear of someone using their lives to help children with cancer, it inspires me and encourages me to do the same. Whenever I join with others who feel strongly about the importance of making a change in the world of childhood cancer, the results of the outcome of our work jumps exponentially. This is what will happen when Jon and Tony meet. Tony, I think Jon might know one or two people in the Front Office at Fenway Park. I think Jon might know a bit about how one would go about Lighting Major League Baseball Stadiums yellow and gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.
And the best news of all, Tony, I will bet—I will double-down—that Jon has a heart that is willing to help you make this happen. Jon, will you please help honor these warriors? Will you please help Tony spread awareness that will lead to funding for cures? From the work you have already done, you’ve demonstrated you feel our children are worth every bit of effort and sacrifice. Thank you for all you are doing, Jon, and thank you for your consideration to step up to the plate to accomplish even more… for Tony… for Cole… for all the kids who should never have to face the Monster. The only Monster I want our children to face is that big Green One I marveled at as a kid at Fenway Park!

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/03/31/opening-day-ace-jon-lester-hopes-to-shut-out-childhood-cancer/?intcmp=latestnews

Tony and Cole

Tony and Cole

Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano

“Talk is (Bleep); We Need Action” — The Truth 365

“Stop Talking and Start DOING!”
                                              ~Gabriella Miller
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Gabriella tells us to “Stop Talking and Start DOING!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaoqnILa0l4

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Are you laughing and crying at the same time after watching and hearing ten year-old Gabriella express her opinions about our elected officials? One of the greatest things about being around kids is they tell you exactly how they feel. Is there anyone else who feels they need to hug her and give her high fives?

The signing of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act by President Obama is the result of a long, arduous, and fervent campaign spearheaded by two of the most passionate people Melinda and I have ever had the blessing of meeting, Mike Gillette and Dena Scarpelli-Sherwood. This progress for childhood cancer research can be traced back to their hearts to help children with cancer and to their willingness to dive into the unknown and “stop talking and start doing.” They produced The Truth 365 Childhood Cancer Documentary to raise awareness, raise funds for research, and to gather petition signatures, all with the goal of uniting the childhood cancer community to work together to end childhood cancer.

http://m.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2014/04/03/president-obama-signs-gabriella-miller-kids-first-research-act

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“Talk is (Bleep,) we need action.”
~Gabriella Miller
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“WOW…A 10 YEAR OLD WITH MORE BRAINS THAN ANYONE IN WASHINGTON!”

 The Truth 365 Childhood Cancer Documentary
The Truth 365 is a ground-breaking, grass-roots documentary film and social media campaign that gives a voice to children fighting cancer. The film features compelling and inspiring stories of children and their families fighting cancer as well as interviews with political leaders and several of the country’s most respected pediatric oncologists. With the help of thousands of volunteers and highly focused social media campaign, the film will inspire millions of people to show their support for children with cancer. Host: Melinda Marchiano
To learn more about The Truth 365, visit www.thetruth365.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/thetruth365film .
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“By combining the powerful medium of documentary with the viral nature of Social Media, we aim to shine a light on the state of childhood cancer research funding by uniting the childhood cancer community, members of Congress, the nation’s top pediatric oncologists and several influential celebrities. In this election-year we need for our politicians to hear the cries of these children and their parents, who are desperate for funding, less toxic treatments, and ultimately a cure.”
~Dena Scarpelli-Sherwood
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http://www.thetruth365.org/one-voice/
http://www.thetruth365.org/petition/
My hope is that Gabriella, Mike, and Dena will educate you, enlighten you, and inspire you to do more than talk about making a difference in the world of childhood cancer. Let’s play Follow-The-Leaders, or become leaders ourselves. There is no time to waste. We must begin Smashing Walnuts today.
Thank you Gabriella, Mike, and Dena. Thank you!
http://www.smashingwalnuts.org/

The Truth 365 Childhood Cancer Documentary

The Truth 365 Childhood Cancer Documentary

Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act Signed by President Obama

“If I go, if I lose my battle then I’m going to want other people to carry on this war.”

                                                                                   ~Gabriella Miller

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Today, something extraordinary happened in the world of childhood cancer. President Obama signed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act into law, with Gabriella’s family present. Gabriella was diagnosed with a brain tumor at nine years old, and became a fierce advocate for childhood cancer research before cancer stole her at ten years old. As you can see from her quote above, she now needs all of us to carry on the “war.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/obama-signs-cancer-research-bill-memory-girl-23182252

http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/04/gabriella-miller-kids-first-research-act-to-be-signed-into-law-101786.html


“This Act may be cited as the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

Termination of taxpayer financing of political party conventions; use of funds for pediatric research initiative”

The full text:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2019/text

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“When you get cancer, you have to be all grown up and you don’t really get a childhood.”

                                                                                                                ~Gabriella Miller

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While I am feeling happy along with other childhood cancer advocates over what happened in Washington today, I cannot help but think of the Miller family. What did it feel like for them to be there for the signing today? How are they ever dealing with the grief over their loss of Gabriella? One of the things that strikes me most when I watch Gabriella’s videos is when she says, “If I die, I will be with my friends.” What an enormous burden these childhood cancer patients carry, not only fighting for their own lives, but emotionally fighting for their cancer-stricken friends as well.

If you have never “met” Gabriella, you absolutely must. Gabriella shows wisdom that comes only through suffering. The purity of her soul and her message will grab your insides and squeeze them until only love remains. Sweet Gabriella, may your mission continue. Your spirit lives. Your spirit will save the lives of many children in the future. To Gabriella’s family, thank you for raising a child with such tremendous insight, grace, and love. She has forever made an impact on my life. May she forever have an impact on our nation and our on our world.

http://www.thetruth365.org/2013/04/04/welcome-10-year-old-gabriella-miller-to-the-truth-365-documentary/

Gabriella Miller’s words: Sugar, Protein, and the need for Constant Awareness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a7NZxNMpcA

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“My biggest fear is that a little child is going to die.”

                                                                    ~Gabriella Miller

Happy Dance for the signing today of Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

Happy Dance for the signing today of Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

 

Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano

Video

St. Baldrick’s Poetry

Beauty, Compassion, Hope, Change
Help me re-define Beauty
Turn Compassion into Action
Show the Power of Hope
Convey the Meaning of Sacrifice for Change

St  Baldrick's Flyer

http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/579474

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