Be aware this post will start as an urgent update on Liam and end as a rant with a political and social bend...just the mood I am in and I make no apologies.
Last weeks scans show that the treatment over the last month has stopped the progression and both his shoulder and the spot in his chest show slight improvement. His team of doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering have decided that it is best to remove the soft tissue disease in his chest and we agree. The plan was to get him on the surgery schedule sometime next week but late today, around 5:30 pm, a slot became available this Friday. While we would love to pass on the earlier slot and let him enjoy another week of swimming and bonding with his little sister Ella, we want the cancerous mass out and we want it out now. The thought of it sitting inside him and knowing based on last Fridays scan that it is alive means it is likely growing. Think for a minute of someone you love and think about what it might feel like to sit there and not be able to stop what you know is trying to take them from you. Surgery while scary and risky is the one sure way of gaining ground on this relentless cancer. Chemo has it's limits and children can only get so much before it starts to do more damage than good. It is the number one reason we need new therapies to fight pediatric cancer and ones developed specifically for kids and their unique cancers and we need them desperately. Liam's type,neuroblastoma, is one of the most insidious and least understood of all pediatric cancers and yet it is the most common type of solid tumor and one of the most deadly. Today about 40% of kids diagnosed survive and kids who relapse have odds so low there is no reason to speak of them. I know many of you reading this know these facts or have heard Gretchen or I discuss them at various times in the past. This is simply a reminder so you know that nothing has changed! Each month we watch as more kids lose their battle as more are diagnosed and as those who seemed to have won fall victim to relapse and are plunged back into the abyss.
I know many have been truly bothered by the BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico. We have all watched helplessly as an ecosystem was being destroyed before our very eyes. We all felt helpless and it gripped the nations attention for weeks and weeks on end. People wanted to stop it but felt helpless because they simply couldn't, they didn't have the power or ability to make a difference. BP is one of the villains in the saga of the oil spill much like our government policies and our beloved wall-street centric pharmaceutical companies are the villains as it relates to the disaster that unfolds each time a child is diagnosed with cancer in this great country of ours. The key difference being that with pediatric cancer you can make a difference, you can get involved and your efforts truly help. You don't have to sit on the couch watching this disaster unfold...you can do so much to make it better. Hold a Bake Sale, an Alex's Lemonade Stand, shave your head for St. Baldricks, write a letter to your representatives, tell your friends, scream, volunteer to help a small local non-profit that supports any facet of pediatric cancer, volunteer at a local pediatric cancer center, donate money, buy cookies, educate everyone you know and can influence so they know the facts about pediatric cancer and the need for their involvement in some form or fashion. To help us help Liam and others more advocacy needs to take place. Liam's story needs to be shared...people need to learn how to take action again and not feel helpless. One of the biggest problems in this country is that people don't feel they can make a difference in anything that happens and have given up trying...it just isn't so.
We with the help of many of you and thousands of others across the country have raised millions to support the needs of those on the front lines in the fight against pediatric cancer. True change will not happen until the majority takes action instead of a small minority. We know many of you will be praying for Liam and it is greatly appreciated but the best way any one of you can truly honor him and his fight is to fight with him...