Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sam Owen & Mason McLeod

While in the hospital with Tyler, I had a recurring dream. I was alone in the empty hospital, running frantically from room to room. I was in a desperate search for some secret, but did not know what it was or how to find it. The hallways and corridors seemed to go for miles. Often they were submerged underwater, and I would swim through searching from air pocket to air pocket. Eventually I would enter a room that I was convinced held "the secret". But soon I would feel the approaching presence of some great doom. Sometime I would run, other times I would stand to fight. But the doom never showed its face, and the secrete was never found. Every night it was the same dream, continuing through all of Tyler's treatments.

Very weird. Some probably think I was just losing it (Kathy would strongly agree, and she didn't know about the dreams). Just a bunch of dreams.

But cancer is not a dream. It is very real, in a world where we search for answers that are not there. Doctors can find and kill the tumors, but the real cancer is hidden. It is sub-detectable, buried deep in the bone marrow and central nervous system of our children. The "cure" is to blast our children with indescribable volumes of poisonous chemo, and then sit back and wait to see what happens. Blasting our kids too hard results in organ failure, too little results in relapse with a vengeance. So what do you do? No one knows. We search for answers without any direction. And we walk that fine line, as we wage war in bodies of our children.

Over the past few days I have thought about the dream. What was the "secret", and will I ever find it? Was it the cure? Tyler now is cancer free and doing great. It is true that I badgered doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and research facilities around the world. But we still don't know what worked, or why some survive and others do not. The answers still aren't there.

But there is one secret that I have learned. I have learned from these children the real purpose of life. With very little time, these kids have achieved greatness. They have inspired others to love deeper, strive higher, and live richer. They have taught us the true meaning and value of life.

Our children are being ignored, lacking the research and funding to effectively fight this war. And in spite of all they go through, they continue to touched and inspired more people than I have in all of my years. As I watching their love for life, I have no choice but believe anything is possible. They have taught me to look in the mirror everyday, look at all the opportunities in life, and say, "If it's going to be, it's up to me."

As I watch Tyler, I see his as a reminder of the value of life. These battles can be won. Tyler, Jana, Jake, Sinjin, Tristan, and so many others are here to remind us that it is worth the fight, the battle can be won. But there are also so many others that tell us that we have not done enough, that the fight is not over. We must keep searching for the cure. We must win this war.

Sam Owen and Mason McLeod are both heroes. Like the kids mentioned above, they bravely fought an ugly cancer called Burkitt's. They gave everything they had to give. Their families surrounded them in love and prayers. But that is not enough. Their cancer was more powerful than the existing medical knowledge. We must change that. If we do not, no one else will. We must attack this war with all of our passion, with all of our resources. We must look in the mirror and say, "If it's going to be, it's up to me.

Mason McLeod passed away on Tuesday. Our friend (and Burkitt's survivor) Sinjin put together this video.


Sam Owen passed on Wednesday, just a couple days after his 13th birthday and Bar Mitzvah.


Anonymous said...


You continue to amaze me. Your passion, dedication, determination, wisdom and heart is incredible.

It is terribly wrong that these children and so many others have to face something as ugly as cancer. It is terribly wrong that there could be solutions out there that can't get the proper funding. It is terribly wrong that any parent must endure such agony watching their child go thru such hell.

But what is truly right is you and your blogs. You and Tyler have opened my family's eyes to a world we never knew.

Please never stop. Please know you make a difference.

God Bless you and your family.

The Smith family
Dublin, Ohio

Anonymous said...

Your Blog - That is what God tell you to do for Other people.

To remember kids who fought and still fighting and May be to make others to realize it is not only fight for our kids.
Because Cancer does not choose white or black jewish or christian.

As far as me I am on every petition to fight cancer or any donation including bone marrow.

Arsen from La