Having a child die was a great fear of mine. For long before I had children I had a deep-rooted fear that I would have a child get cancer. I don’t really know where that fear came from, so I can only assume it was God preparing me for the day that this would become a reality for me.
I think that anyone who has children has some fear in their heart. As Christians we are told to trust in God for their safety and health, but regardless we all worry. You worry that your child will get sick. You worry that your child will get off track and make bad choices. You worry that your son or daughter will get hurt or that they will be killed. And then you try your best to calm down and tell yourself that it won’t happen to your baby. You won’t have to watch them fight for their life. You will never know the realities of living in a hospital. You will never have to see them die. You won’t have to plan their funeral. But for those of us that have had the worst possible scenario come true you no longer have the luxury of saying those words.
Childhood cancer research as a whole is severely underfunded because it stirs up so much fear. No one wants to believe that kids really get cancer and that it takes their lives. We look at the cute bald kids in the St. Jude’s commercials and feel sympathy, but we don’t believe it will ever happen in our family or to a child that we know and love. And then we change the channel and move on. We don’t want to give it another thought because childhood cancer is sad. Children dying is sad! And I agree that it is sad! But there won’t be any real change unless we stop turning the other cheek. Rather than pretending that this problem doesn’t really exist and that it is rare, let’s embrace the truth.
Kids get cancer in astounding numbers! Every day in the U.S. alone, 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer. That’s an entire classroom full of children every day. And another 7 kids in the U.S. die each day from cancer. And 3 of those 7 will die from brain cancer. Every Christmas, more than 91,000 families are celebrating their first Christmas without one of their children who has died from cancer. How is that rare? How is that not worth doing something about?
I didn’t really care about childhood cancer before my little girl was diagnosed. But I can’t even tell you how much I wish I had started fighting for a cure for her long before she was ever born! She was a real, beautiful, amazing little girl that was taken from us at 20 months and 3 days old because of cancer. I can’t do anything to save her now but I will fight to honor her memory and to save other kids from meeting the same fate.
My challenge to you is this… Don’t turn the other cheek anymore. You can never again say you don’t know. Start fighting for kids battling cancer now before it is your child. Your grandchild. Your niece or nephew. Before it is a child you love. Because some day it will be.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. All proceeds benefit our neuro-oncology research team at Children’s Hospital Colorado and all donations are tax-deductible. You can learn more or donate any time by visiting our website at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.