I need to ask you for a BIG favor!
We're taking a couple of days this week to help very sick children, who along with their families are fighting cancer. We're all fighting it. The odds of survival are better than ever. With your help, St Jude can make sure children continue to live, grow and smile!
Call me now at 1-800-699-2520 to become a St Jude Partner in Hope! Thanks for helping and Happy Holidays. All the best, Michael J
Meet Phillip. His story below.
Dear Michael J,
As part of my daily routine I listen to your shows as I travel to and from work. Two years ago I was listening to WMZQ as you were conducting your St. Jude Radiothon. Touched at the heart, I became Partner in Hope with my monthly donation. What I didn’t know at that time was three months later I would become parent of a 20-year old son diagnosed with late Stage 4 Neuroblastoma – a cancer routinely diagnosed in infants and young children, but rare in older teens and young adults. The treatment and survival rate in infants and young children is approximately 95%. However, when a child reaches their teens or young adult age (early 20s) the treatment and survival rate is as ugly and aggressive as the cancer – 20-30% survivability. My son was in the prime of his life when diagnosed. As the child of an Army parent, he grew up traveling across this great county, loving a variety of music and cars, being active in Boy Scouts, and succeeding in achieving the Rank of Eagle. He served as an aquatic’s counselor/lifeguard for several years at Boy Scout summer camp, trekked challenging trails across the U.S., and watched many sunrises and sunsets from atop distant mountains. With his future ahead, my son Phillip entered into the local community college and joined the workforce at a local grocery store. However, it was on February 14, 2011, when beginning his sophomore spring semester that his world would change. It is also the day that we became members of a much larger family – the parents of children battling cancer and living out the life of those you mentioned on your St. Jude Radiothon.
Last year I called your shows during annual St. Jude Radiothon to share my support as a parent of a child with cancer and for WMZQ’s support to St. Jude. I provided a parent’s perspective of a child fighting cancer. My son received his first year of treatment at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital. Johns Hopkins, like St. Jude and many other great pediatric oncology hospitals, share a common bond through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) – building a network of collaboration with one thing in mind – finding a cure. During the first year of treatment my son underwent several surgeries, removal of one of his adrenal glands, numerous rounds of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, stem cell transplant, antibody treatment, so many CT/MRI and MIBG scans to light up a small town, the loss of hair and weight, lengthy residence in the children’s hospital or at the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House, gaining new friends and loosing some too (forever in our thoughts and prayers), lots of blood and platelet transfusions, and several different infections to keep the doctors challenged. We also received an outpouring of support from our friends, family and community, such as prepared meal donations, yard maintenance and house cleaning, blood drives because there is never enough blood, and shaving of heads in support of my son and for St. Baldrick’s celebration to support kids with cancer. When asked by other parents what could they do, I typically responded, "hug your child because you never know when…." and donate blood. With each day during this first year we gave blessing for having the opportunity to look forward to the next day, and the care, compassion and professionalism provided by all the medical staff – specially the nurses – true angels.
This year my son continued with several other treatments and more stays at the hospital. Did you know that any young adult 22 or younger with cancer is considered a pediatric patient? My son reached a point during the summer that he was healthy enough to travel and the family took a "bucket list" trip to Alaska to stand on top of the breath taking mountains of Denali Park to see the heavens from the north. In September his energy level started to decrease and a routine exam revealed that the Neuroblastoma returned. The medical research and literature shows that reoccurrence of this cancer is even uglier then the initial diagnosis. We now find ourselves this week transferring up to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (another member of the COG and working closely with St. Jude) to receive treatment defined as "compassionate use" – a treatment with an investigational drug to treat a patient with a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition who has no comparable or satisfactory alternative treatment options. We call this our "last hope for another day." The greatest challenge of this treatment is that the vast majority of health insurance providers do not provide coverage for the treatment or hospital stay, resulting in families either appealing the insurance companies, paying out of pocket for expenses, or worse – deciding not to pursue any more treatment. The later is not an option a parent should be asked to accept. Since initial diagnosis, we have communicated a theme commonly shared within the pediatric oncology families, "No one fights alone, and when you cannot fight no more, then others will fight for you."
On a good note, my wife share with me that Carrie Underwood visited the hospital today as part of the Seacrest Studios to contribute positively to the healing process for children and their families during their stay. The heart in this down-to-earth Oklahoma girl is as big as any star in the sky this evening.
Back to the reason I am writing you. I use my daily opportunity of listening to your shows as moment to meditate, appreciate more the sunrise and sunsets, reflect on what is real and important, recognized that a young child or young adult can change the lives of many within their own short lives, give thanks for being a parent, and hope for many more moments with my son to make memories. If you ever need a spokesperson to support your St. Jude fundraisers, please free to contact me at anytime because "No one fights alone."