I am a Taylor Swift fan. That’s right, I said it. This full-grown man is a fan. I don’t know how she takes experiences that her young age would give her limited exposure to and turn them into such mature, compelling music.
I am Maya Thompson fan. I don’t know how she gets out of bed in the morning. The Thompsons lost their youngest son, 3-year-old Ronan, to neuroblastoma on May 9, 2011. Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid cancer in children and infants. As parents, we have no greater fear than losing our children. The Thompsons lived that nightmare.
Maya started the blog www.rockstarronan.com shortly after Ronan was diagnosed in August 2010. The blog contains real, raw, emotional entries about his fight with the disease. One of the people who came across the blog and were moved was Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift was moved enough by the blog that she took the words and wrote the song “Ronan.” She performed the song for the first time at the Stand Up To Cancer 2012 telethon in September. She called Maya, who was given co-writing credit, shortly before the performance to ask permission to perform it. All proceeds from the song will go to children’s cancer charities.
Take a look at www.rockstarronan.com. I am warning you. This is real in real language with real emotion. It starts in August 2010 and provides a blow-by-blow account of Ronan’s fight against his disease. It also details Maya’s thoughts, feelings and grief after he died and since. My wife showed me the blog and read me excerpts. She played the song for me. I couldn’t understand why she was so compelled by such a sad story. My heart broke for Maya and her family but I didn’t want to think about it. Frankly the thought scared the hell out of me. Eventually I started reading. I’m glad I did because Maya Thompson is helping me be a better parent.
I am a better parent because she has slapped me in the face with some cold hard reality. Since reading her blog I have found myself looking at situations differently. Charlie pulled a completely irresponsible, bone-headed move this morning and broke a salt shaker. I was furious mostly because he wasn’t paying attention. I checked myself. If Maya Thompson could have Ronan back for a moment and in that moment he broke a salt shaker I doubt she would give a damn.
When my oldest was 5 he had a febrile seizure. His temperature reached 104 and the doctor sent us home with instructions to use cold compresses occasionally. He was on my bed as I wiped him down. I turned away and he made this horrible sucking noise and became rigid. His eyes were open and he was twitching. After about 40 seconds he relaxed. I wiped his face, but something was wrong. He wasn’t breathing. I took a deep breath. I didn’t want to do anything rash and make things worse. He had a pulse, but it was slowing down. After about 45 seconds, I knew I had to do something. I remembered you couldn’t do CPR on a bed. I picked him up and carried him into the living room. Still no breathing. I could feel panic starting. I tilted his head and checked his airway. I almost had my mouth on his when he gasped. He started breathing.
That is as close as I have come. I still remember the dreadful helplessness and pain. If I multiplied that by a million and lived it every waking moment, I might begin to feel what Maya and her family live with everyday.
She makes it clear that she is mad at childhood cancer. She’s mad, but she’s also getting even. She is getting in neuroblastoma’s face and kicking it in the balls. Besides her blog she started the Ronan Thompson Foundation. Her aim is to create a world-class neuroblastoma treatment center and to eventually eradicate the disease. If all cancer goes with it, I am sure that would make her happy as well.
You can find Ronan’s foundation at www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com. Take a look and if you can, please help out. 650 children each year are diagnosed with this disease. The foundation has my family’s support and could definitely use your support. If you can’t help financially, then maybe you can volunteer at children’s facility. At the very least hug your kids.
Thank you so much for reading. I’ll see you soon on This Side of the Diaper