One week to the shaving! Just a reminder that if you haven't given, now is a critical time to support causes like St Baldrick's. Due to the recession, private support for cancer research has significantly diminished, federal budgets are shrinking, and children's cancers were poorly funded from the get-go, so it's up to generous, community-minded people like you to step up and carry the load in these times of need. So please consider making a donation -- click the link to make a secure, on-line donation.
I'm shaving in memory of Nathan Gentry. Nathan was a great kid, and he happened to be the son of some of my closest friends. I still remember the phone call I got when his parents first noticed a runny eye and a limp -- the first signs of his cancer. It was a terrible moment, and a terrible feeling. I still get a stomach ache when I think about it.
Nathan ultimately was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, and after four tough years of fighting it, after going through multiple clinical trials and experimental treatments, he died 20 months ago at the age of seven. My oldest is seven now.
I still think about Nathan almost every day.
I'm also shaving in memory of Henry Scheck. Henry was the son of one of my blogging friends, and he had a rough journey with medulloblastoma. He was treated at one of my alma maters, Johns Hopkins, and despite the fact that he had access to the finest pediatric neurosurgeons in the world and the most advanced treatments, he died almost exactly a year ago (has it been a year already?) at the age of four and a half. My middle child just turned five.
His shirt in the picture to the right reads, "Life is Fragile. Love is not." It's a beautiful sentiment, and true. It's defiant and speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. But it also is profoundly sad, that there are children whose lives are so fragile that we cannot save them. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose one of my children. But it happens almost daily to children with cancer, despite all of our best efforts and all of our acquired medical knowledge. And we have to stop that.
There are promising treatments coming on line all the time. Both Nathan and Henry benefited from participation in clinical trials. They were not lucky enough to be saved, but maybe the next kid with one of these cancers will be saved when we find the best therapies.
The next kid, like Eleanor S, whom I diagnosed with neuroblastoma in the ER a few months ago. Or Gracie, the daughter of a friend on Twitter, who was also just diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Or maybe the kid who will be diagnosed tomorrow or next month or next year. Sooner or later, with effort and with financial support, we will hit upon the right combination of drugs that will work against these lethal diseases, much as the formerly-lethal leukemias and lymphomas are largely tamed by modern chemotherapies.
This is why I shave my head. This is why I am asking you for your support. If you can afford a gift, whatever size, please take a moment and donate on line. Baldrick's does a lot of good and supports some great researchers, and with time and with our support, we can defeat these awful diseases.
Thanks for your support, whether you're able to give now or not, and thanks for your well-wishes. If you're in Seattle come join us at Fadó Irish Pub at 6pm on Monday the 15th for the shaving and post-shaving celebrations.