It is incredible to watch Tyler. He is focused on his studies, going through prep classes for his ACT's. He is out with friends, playing football or basketball. This summer he passed me in height, now standing at 6'2". Last week someone came up to me at Erik's football game and asked how Tyler was doing. I said, "Ask him yourself," and pointed to Tyler standing beside me. They could not believe their eyes. There is no resemblance to the "cancer boy" whose picture was in the paper and on the news two years ago.
As we move on, I see a gap between our new world and the old world of cancer. I guess it is understandable. We have to go on with our lives. Tyler has a lot of work ahead of him to realize his dream of attending OSU. Brandon and Travis will soon be preparing for life after college. Erik is growing up fast, already in middle school and on the football team. I am still rebuilding my real estate business, after a year off due to Tyler's battle. And Kathy is managing the always busy household.
Our new world is full exciting new adventures. Our old world of cancer is full of pain. I want to just close the door, and forget it ever happened. I still get a lot of calls and emails from parents of children with cancer. I try to help, but it gets more and more difficult. Last week someone pointed out that I even stopped mentioning cancer when talking about marathon training. I did not realize it, but they were right. But I think it is very understandable.
It's natural to move on. Tyler is healthy now. And I'm not a doctor. What can I do help others? Nothing, really. I'm only one person. I did what I could. It's time to move on.
But then something happened.
Yesterday I heard about Matt Hupp, another teenager with Burkitt's. Matt's parents had contacted me back in May with questions about treatments we did with Tyler. I responded with some information, and followed up with them for a while. By early June, Matt was doing great. He was able to attend school just before summer break, where his classmates planned a "Last Chemo" party. In June Matt posted in his site, "On Tuesday it is officially summer!!!! I will also be getting my scans. If all looks good I will get my picc line out. Then I can finally go swimming!!!!! I like to thank you all one last time for helping me through this journey with all of your prays and support. Thank you!!"
All was great. Like us, Matt was moving into his new world of normal teenage years. I did not follow up with them any more. Then I learned yesterday that Matt Hupp passed away last Friday. Matt's parents had reached out to me, and to many others. They researched everything. They did everything right. I can not get his death off my mind. But what could I have done to change things? Nothing.
Last night I could not sleep. I could only think of Matt Hupp, a 14 year old cancer victim I had never meet. I got out of bed and looked at his pictures again. Why could I not sleep? There is nothing I could have done.
Then, about 2 AM, I recalled a conversation with Bob Piniewski. Bob compared childhood cancer to the tragedy of 9/11. Our entire nation poured out to support the families of victims of that tragedy. New laws were written. Federal commissions were created. Billions were spent. We declared war. We demanded changes to prevent this tragedy from ever repeating itself.
Each and every year childhood cancer claims as many victims as 9/11. But where is the support? An additional 10,000 survive the torture of cancer, many with life long complications. Who is fighting for these kids? As Bob asks, why is the entire fight left to the families? We didn't tell the 9/11 families to fight the war or protect the airlines. We did not tell them to chase down bin Laden or al-Queda. But we seem to expect that of the families of childhood cancer.
In the morning I received two more emails from parents asking questions. And another from Team in Training, asking about the status of my donations in the marathon run. Then came the email reminding that September is Childhood Cancer Month. Last year it made no headline. This year will likely be the same
Now I understand. There are not two worlds. There never were. I can choose to ignore, or I choose to fight. But we are all in the same world.
So what can only one person really do? I don't know. But the next email was a guy who raised $520,000 for childhood cancer research. Craig Goozee. He raised the money riding his bike across Australia after his daughter died of bone cancer.
So I'll enjoy my family, raise my sons, and love my wife. And I will respond to parents with questions, meet with kids, fight for childhood cancer funding, and run another marathon. A life worth living and a cause worth fighting. It's all one world...it always has been. As 18 year old Miles Levin said shortly before his death, "The time I’ve had has been enough—time enough to make the world a better place for having been here."
Take note-the measure that you give is the measure you receive.
Dying is not what scares me; it's dying having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer; and -- win or lose -- this is my time for impact.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.
God created man on purpose and for a purpose!
All you touch and all you see, Is all your life will ever be.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I am only one, but I am still one. I can not do everything, but I can still do something. I will not refuse to do something I can.
It's the journey that matters-mine and yours-the lives we can touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better.