Dear Empire State Building, Part 7

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Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Sabrina Houara and I just finished my first classes at Arizona State University, where I’m majoring in health sciences pre-professional, hoping to finish in 3 years instead of four. That’s me: over-achiever, future doctor, overall nerd, and voice for kids with cancer.
I know with every part of me that I was meant to be a pediatric oncologist, but I may have never found this path if it hand’t been for Maya and Ronan and their inspiring love for each other. Like so many others I first heard Ronan’s story when Taylor Swift first sang her song Ronan, based on Maya’s blog. I looked up the story and spent the next few weeks reading and bawling.

 
It seemed unimaginable to me that this beautiful little boy could have been ripped from the world so soon, and that so many kids are taken by this awful disease known as childhood cancer. I’m still baffled by the statistics. I knew after just a few posts in that I had to do whatever I possible could to help change this, but I still wasn’t sure how. Then a few days later I approached my parents with an idea: I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist, and they were completely on board. I quickly began forming this idea of what kind of doctor I would be, but I already knew. I would be the kind of doctor I would want for myself, for my own children whenever I have them. I want to be the type of doctor to fight for each and every patient with everything I have, because this is life or death for them. When I tell people that I’ve decided to go into this field I’m usually met with some form of the phrase, “Oh that will be so sad, I could never do that.” But if I can save the life of just one child, it will be worth it to me. These kids will be dying whether or not I’m right there on the front lines, so I will do everything I can as a doctor to help change this for them.

 
The thing is, it won’t matter how good of a doctor I am (and I plan on being a flipping good one) if we can’t get more funding for childhood cancer. The more funding we can get, the more experimental trials we can fund, and that brings us one step closer to finally finding a cure for this horrible disease that is taking the lives of so many children. The key to getting more funding is to raise awareness, to get people to realize that childhood cancer is a real problem, and that it takes the lives of 7 children every day in the US alone. Those who survive are left with side effects from treatment that will affect them for the rest of their lives. We need for more people to see this, to want to help.
This is where you would come in. Lighting the Empire State Building gold for one day in September would bring heaps of awareness. Many families were seriously hurt when you denied their requests, it felt like you were saying their child didn’t matter. I don’t know any of this firsthand, but it’s easy to tell from the social media campaign that came soon after two non-profits filled out your application and were denied.
You can still make this right. Please find it in your heart to change your mind, for these kids. For Ronan and far too many others. Help us make it so that no parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or cousin has to watch their loved one slowly die as a result of childhood cancer. Help us make it so that no child knows the pain of having their little body invaded by cancer and the horrific treatments that go with it. Help us raise awareness for childhood cancer so we can find a cure and no child will ever die from this killer again. Again I say, you can still make this right.

 
Sincerely,

 
Sabrina Houara
Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate and Future Pediatric Oncologist

Dear Empire State Building, Part 6

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Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Jennifer Garcia and I am a 24 year college student from California. I have been to New York once and I remember feeling like it was the most magical of places, the place where anything could happen. I always aspired to go back one day and I hope when I get the chance that I can know that for one day in September the top of the Empire State Building sparkled gold for our kids. I say ‘our’ kids because it shows how much of a tight knit group of people we are, us activists for childhood cancer awareness.

You think that we are pushy, mean and threatening? We are passionate, angry, devastated and some broken beyond repair by the loss that we face everyday. The loss of a child whether it was our own child, a friends child, a little brother or sister or a beautiful boy with the most sparkling blue eyes that you only know through photographs and the words of a mom who will never stop fighting for him. I was aware that kids get cancer, I saw the St. Jude commercials and I would frown for a moment and then the program I was watching would come back on and I was sucked back into the happy state of ignorance. All that changed when I watched Taylor Swift sing at the Stand Up To Cancer telethon. Before she even finished the song I was sobbing uncontrollably. When i was finally able to compose myself I raced to my laptop and typed “Ronan” into Google. My world changed that day I could no longer just shake my head and think how sad when I saw the St. Jude commercials or the collection jars at the supermarket. I started doing research and was horrified when i found out how underfunded pediatric cancer research is. All the times I donated to American Cancer Society only 1 cent for every dollar went to pediatrics. Our kids are getting swept under the rug like a dirty secret. It seems like the world is whispering, “Shhh, If we don’t talk about it maybe no one will notice.”

Well, we have noticed, it is all around us, the world is full of scary things and we want to protect our children any way we can. Unfortunately, we can’t protect them from this we can kiss away their tears and try to make them smile but this isn’t just a scraped knee or them teased at school. This is the biggest bully they can face and no matter how much we whisper to them “It’ll be okay” we know this is one thing we can’t promise to save them from. There is nothing worse then knowing you can’t protect them. When I read that Maya was trying to get you guys to go gold for ONE day in September, sadly my first thought wasn’t this should be easy. My first thought was this is going to take some work to get noticed. What kind of world are we living in where we have to shout and send out petitions and trend worldwide on twitter to raise awareness for childhood cancer. You light up different colors for the dog shows and the Ninja Turtles movie premier. Are dogs and ninja turtles more important than our kids? In a way that is what it sounds like your saying.

I read the message that you don’t take requests from individuals just organizations. The Ronan Thompson Foundation is an organization and they along with thousands of others are begging, yes begging, you to change your mind and do what is right. Restore our faith in humanity and turn gold for one day. We are not a picky bunch, you choose the day in September. Just please light up gold. I am not one to beg or plead but I want to have kids one day and I don’t want to bring them into this world knowing that Cancer is a possibility for them. I want them to have endless possibilities for happiness and success. I want them to live spicy sparkly lives and I want to know that the possibility is there for all kids. We can’t save them all but we can try. We can try extra hard for those kids that didn’t get to reach their full potential. The one’s that we only saw fleeting glimpses of the outstanding things they were going to do. Help us make their lights continue to glow gold.
Be Bold Go Gold,
Jennifer

Announcing our 3rd Annual Gold Party! Buy your tickets before they sell out!!

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Dear Empire State Building, Part 2

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An Open Letter To Anyone Who Cares To Read It:

My name is Kassie. I am twenty-three years old. Like many around my age, I graduated from college this past year, and like even more people my age, I spend almost all of my time working an ungodly amount of hours at my first full-time, salary paid job (a job which I absolutely adore, by the way). When I do have a day off, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, hiking, watching movies, and catching up on errands and laundry (and sleep!); in a lot of ways I guess you could say that I’m pretty much like every other kid (adult?) my age. I had a great childhood, I have two incredibly loving, strong, and supportive families, and I have a little brother who was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer called Synovial Sarcoma when he was fifteen years old. It’s that last bit, the having a brother with childhood cancer bit, that has shaped me the most as a human being and made me who I am today-a strong and determined young woman who passionately advocates for children with cancer and works with a non-profit organization with the goal of funding life-saving research and clinical trials to ultimately find a cure for cancer and save the lives of cancers youngest and most vulnerable victims: children.

August 31, 2010: I was a sophomore at Arizona State University and had just gotten out of my last class of the day. My best friend Ann had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer two weeks prior. I pulled out my cell phone as I walked across campus to get to my car. There was a text message from my dad that consisted of just seven words, “I need you to call me, ASAP”. An overwhelming feeling of dread filled me. I called him and he answered almost instantly. My dad’s voice was shaking. Was he crying? Was he mad? What was that sound in his voice? My dad proceeded to tell me that my grandma had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. He explained that even though it was scary they thought they had caught it early and she would get surgery and then chemo and the chances that she would beat this were good. I felt my stomach drop and told my dad how sorry I was. I automatically went to the positive, “So she has a good chance of being okay, right? She can make this. I know it.” But my dad didn’t answer my question. Instead he drew in a shaky breath and proceeded to tell me that there was more. It was my brother, Coleman. He had cancer too. Disbelief and shock hit me in the gut so hard I literally felt as if I’d had the wind knocked out of me. I do not remember the rest of the conversation I had on the phone with my dad that day. I just remember a tall kid with brown hair and sunglasses looking at me like I was crazy as I stumbled into the gravel and managed to find my balance by grabbing the nearest palm tree. To this day I find it odd that I remember exactly where I was, near the end of Palm Walk right by the SRC Fields on campus yet I can’t remember a single word my dad had said after telling me that my little brother had just been diagnosed with cancer. All I remember after that was being so dizzy that walking felt dangerous. I do not remember the drive home to my apartment, I just remember walking up the stairs to my complex, opening the door and barely managing to tell my best friend and roommate, Hannah, the news before collapsing into her arms in heaving, uncontrollable sobs. I may have been twenty years old but my best friend sat on the ground holding me in her lap as if I were a child. I will never forget that day.

Today-Sunday, August 17, 2014: In just fourteen short days, it will be exactly four years since my brother’s initial diagnosis. A lot has happened in those almost four years. I lost my best friend Ann to the terrible monster that is cancer. I learned about and was adopted into an entire community of families with children who were battling cancer. I changed my major so that I could go on to help children and their families understand their child’s diagnosis and be a shoulder to lean on and resource to help them navigate through the absolute uncertainty that is childhood cancer. I forged an even deeper bond with my little brother who never ceased to amaze me at how selfless, giving, hopeful, and inspiring he could be. I did a lot of research on my brother’s cancer as well as childhood cancer in general. I found a blog written by a mom whose son was going through treatment for cancer and through her words found someone else in this world that understood my complicated feelings and experiences in this cancer journey and helped me to find my own voice and become a huge advocate for childhood cancer. I began to raise money, attend events, and eventually work with The Ronan Thompson Foundation to make meaningful change in this world. I had a few birthdays. I sat with my brother one night as he told me he was roommates with a little boy in the hospital who was also going through chemotherapy and that he would give his life if it meant that little three-year old could survive his battle because “at least I’ve lived fifteen years and that’s a lot more than three”. I connected with the mom of Ronan Thompson, the woman behind the blog that had given me a voice when I was at a loss for words and helped me to find the courage to speak my mind on behalf of the kids who were suffering, even if that meant having people disregard me or tell me that what I had to say was too sad to be talked about. I became best friends with this woman, and only after meeting her for the first time did we realize that my little brother and her son had been roommates at Phoenix Children’s Hospital when they were receiving chemotherapy. I mourned the loss of a little boy with sparkly blue eyes that I had never met, yet had changed my life forever. I watched Taylor Swift sing her brand new song, Ronan, on the Stand Up To Cancer Telethon with Ronan’s family and friends as we all watched in awe with silent tears pouring down our faces. I attended two (soon to be three) Gold Parties in September to raise money for funding and research for new treatments for Neuroblastoma. I watched my brother’s hair come back, I watched him go back to playing sports and attending school and being a normal teenager while thanking the universe for every single second I had with my brother, healthy and happy. I watched my brother graduate from high school with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed with gratitude to witness this milestone when so many kids with cancer don’t make it. I graduated college and watched my brother go off to his first year of college. I laughed. I cried. I hiked. I ran two half marathons with no training to honor Ronan, my brother, and to raise money for Ronan’s foundation. I held my breath every time my brother went to the hospital to get scans to make sure his cancer stayed away, and I had my breath knocked out of me for the second time when after almost three years cancer free, scans came back with news that it was back again.

Like I said, a lot has happened in those almost four years. Maybe the most important thing that has happened is that I have witnessed the impact that one person can have on the world around her when she is brave and bold enough to stand up and speak out about the atrocities going on around her each and every day that everyone else is too scared, intimidated, or devastated to talk about. I have learned that when one person is brave enough to stand up in the face of adversity and shine, it subconsciously gives others the permission and power to do the same. I have come to know what it is like to have a person you’ve never met before completely change your life. I have also come to know what it is like to have someone tell you that your compassion, dedication, and courage has changed their life forever. I have watched the childhood cancer community that I was adopted into four years ago evolve and change, becoming more cohesive, recognized, and powerful and I have watched our community use that power to positively and passionately enact change that had lead us in the right direction, on a path that leads to a future where children getting cancer is only something you read about in history books. We have a long road ahead but there is power in the baby steps we have made towards our goal. There is so much work yet to be done but I can promise you we are not losing steam; we are only gaining momentum. Our biggest roadblock is in a lack of understanding and awareness that childhood cancer is not a rarity. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every single day, and seven children will die from cancer today alone. Another obstacle we as a community face is that the general public finds childhood cancer too tragic a topic to broach meaningfully, let alone superficially.

While I will not speak for the childhood community as a whole, I can speak for myself, as the sister of a cancer fighter. All I want is to turn around the odds for kids fighting cancer. I want our society to finally decide that although talking about childhood cancer is extremely sad, devastating, and sometimes uncomfortable, we are more horrified and uncomfortable with the fact that thousands upon thousands of kids are dying from this disease and because of this we decide to shed light on this topic and force ourselves to ask the hard questions and demand answers and better funding for our kids. I never want another family to have a doctor tell them their child has cancer. I never want another parent to watch their child die in their arms. I want to fight for a world where children make it out of childhood alive. I want my little brother to be given the chance to get better and stay better, to know and experience all the many ages and stages of life, I want him to get a full and long lifetime on this earth.

The childhood cancer community I belong to is a passionate, dedicated, strong-willed, and extremely vocal one. But one thing we are not is violent, malicious, or ill wishing. I can promise you that any person who has ever loved someone with cancer is not capable of wishing the same on any other person, ever. I could not and would not wish cancer on anyone, no matter who they were or what they have done and the thought alone makes me feel sick to my stomach. The individuals I have met in this community of people brought together by cancer are some of the kindest, most compassionate, awe-inspiring, absolutely amazing human beings I have ever encountered. They are the kind of human beings that give me hope for a brighter future not just for our kids but also for the world in general. While we will not give up on what we are passionate about and have more fight and will power in us than any other group of people I’ve ever known, we do not use that fight and will power to tear others down, make threats, or tarnish others reputations. To do so is not in our nature and it is not in any way related to our ultimate mission: to find a cure to the many different cancers that afflict children and stop other families from feeling the pain that we have. Our goal, our fight, our mission has always been and always will be to find a cure to the merciless disease that continues to kills our sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers. It has always been about our kids, and to make it about anything other than that is something we will not stand for. Whether childhood cancer has affected you personally or not, I ask you, I beg of you, to advocate for our community in a way that your own child would be proud of. It is indeed possible to fight for our kids with passion, spice, and determination and also do so gracefully and in a way that is not malicious or harmful to others. I want our community to be known for the leaps and bounds we made in the research and treatment of childhood cancer and ultimately for curing childhood cancer. We are a group of people who despite unimaginable tragedy continue to come together, support one another, and lift each other up to make meaningful and lasting change in this world and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. We are not the bullies that were addressed in the Empire State Building’s press release today, and if you have joined our community fight with the intention of being malicious and threatening, our cause is not one we need or want you representing.

Each and every day I will live with love, compassion, and strength. I will be a voice for the voiceless and I will represent our children fiercely but with integrity, respect, and grace. Thank you to everyone who has helped us in our fight for a future where childhood cancer does not exist. Thank you to the childhood cancer community that embraced me from the day of my brother’s diagnosis four years ago. Thank you to the incredible people I have met during this journey that have inspired, strengthened and loved me along the way. Empire State Building, we are not the bullies you addressed today in your statement. We are not the abusive and ill wishing “childhood cancer advocates” you talked about. While our fight to light up the Empire State Building in Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness month is far from over, our plan of attack will never include threatening, demoralizing, or attacking any human being, whether they choose to help us shine a much needed light on the world of childhood cancer or not.

Stay Gold,

Kassie Rehorn

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That time I went Inferno hiking and almost didn’t make it down the mountain, because sometimes I’m an idiot who does stupid things.

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Ronan. I did something a couple Saturdays ago that ended up being not all that smart. I was in a mood. It was a Saturday and the weekends around our house are still really hard on me. So much family time that I know you know I am thankful for, but weekends always seem to hurt so much more. We spent the morning at your brothers’ basketball games, a place where I am normally my happiest. On this particular day, not having you there to watch and cheer for your brothers was just too much missing you for me to handle. I did my usual put on my happy face while I did my loudest screaming my head off for your brothers as I watched them dominate on the court. After another victory (insert proud bragging rights here) we all went home and your brothers ended up getting invited to go swimming with some friends. I volunteered to take them as Poppy was getting ready to take her nap. I threw on my hiking gear as your daddy looked at me and said, “You’re going hiking? It’s the hottest part of the day and about 110 degrees outside. You shouldn’t go.” Your daddy knows me well enough though to know that his words were falling on deaf ears. I was on a mission and destroying Camelback Mountain during the hottest part of the day was what I was set on doing. There was no telling me otherwise. I packed my backpack full of a ton of cold waters, made sure my phone was totally charged as bounced out the door to drop your brothers so I could take my anger out on something… anything to get me through the day.

Hiking Camelback on a normal temperature day is not an easy feat.  Throw in the scorching heat, not to mention my anger/sadness/grief and the inferno that day went to a whole different level of hell.  I climbed as fast as I could, feeling the pain as my hands burned every time I would go to grab a boulder to pull myself up on.  I could only let my hands touch them for a few seconds before I would end up pulling them away so they didn’t get burned too badly.  Not many people were on the mountain that day, but yes, there were a few who were just as crazy as me.  I found myself wondering if they too had dead kids or parents or lovers or friends. Was it possible that somebody up here hurt just as much as me? What in the world had they endured in this lifetime to make them climb up a mountain during such an intensely hot day?? I let all these thoughts fill my mind as I continued to climb.  I had to stop quite a few times which I normally don’t do.  After about 45 minutes, I knew I had enough and I made myself turn around even though I was still about 5 minutes from the top.  I’ve never not made it to the top, so this was a first and I was not happy about it.  But I also know my limits and just how to come really close to the edge of things in life without not totally falling the side of the cliff.  I had just turned around when I noticed a guy in black shorts coming up as I had to move out-of-the-way so he could pass me.  You always give the right away to the people coming up, at least on my mountain where I follow and respect all the rules that my veteran hikers have put into place.  I didn’t think much of this person passing me, but I gave him a quick hello, made eye contact, and really wanted to say, “What is causing you so much pain to hike on a day like today?” I made my way down the mountain, slowly.  I started to get really disoriented and dizzy from the heat.  I have hiked that mountain no less than 300 times, so I was not worried about getting lost, but I was worried about passing out.  I got to the part where you have to hold onto some rails to climb back down.  I know I was delirious at this point because my head starting saying things that maybe used to fill my mind a lot, but do not very much anymore.  I heard myself talking about death, dying, and was I dead?? Maybe I was really dead and this was really hell.  Did I want to die?  I was so out of it at that point that I couldn’t really answer my own question.  I let my mind drift and wander to those morbid places for a couple different reasons.  One being that I really wasn’t in control of the thoughts that were taking over my brain and two because sometimes I just have to go there… to the darkest of the dark places.  I live in that place, but I don’t visit it very often anymore so when it’s time to take a little vacation to all things dark, I just allow myself to go and don’t really question it much.  I cannot live in the constant sunshine every day of my life as it gets so exhausting to do so.

I ended up calling your daddy at some point and I don’t remember what I said, but I think I told him I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the bottom.  He offered to come and get me and of course I said no.  Don’t forget I have that whole ‘I’m not a princess and I don’t need saving’ thing still going on.  I made it to the car where I blasted the A/C and sat for a bit as I recovered before I attempted to drive just a few minutes home. I came crawling through the door as your daddy handed me a big Gatorade and watched me sink down to the ground where I passed out for a few minutes on our cool tile floor.  I opened my eyes just in time to see him hovering above me and heard him say, “Have you had enough self-torture for the day?” For the day, yes.  For life, never. I rolled my eyes and went to our bedroom where I showered and passed out for a good hour or so only to wake up to a raging headache that was brought on by my stupidity.  Do you think I learned my lesson and will never do that again? You know me better than that, Ronan.  You know I’ll be back up that mountain in no time to do it all over again.  I’ve been hiking it still, but going really late in the afternoon where the temps are in the low 100’s. Those temperatures are easy to hike in for me compared to the 110 in the middle of the day.

A couple of days after my Saturday inferno, I heard on the news that a hiker was missing on Camelback Mountain.  I didn’t think much of it until they mentioned he had gone missing on Saturday, around the same time that I was on the trail.  I googled the story and found it almost immediately.  He was 23, from Washington State and his dad was pleading for his son’s life.  I tried my best to remember if I had seen him on Saturday and my mind went back to the guy in the black shorts.  Could that have been him?  In my mind, I thought he looked much older than the person I was looking at on my computer screen before me, but still I couldn’t shake the thought of somebody missing on that mountain.  My mountain of all places where I have hiked over 300 times and it’s one of the few places that I can count on in life to accept my grief, nurture my grief, love my grief and never judge my grief.  My place of solitude and peace and now you’re telling me there is somebody missing up there? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and didn’t know how he hadn’t been found.  It’s a big mountain, but not that big and the helicopters/search and rescue had already been looking for days.  On Tuesday, I was restless and left the house after your daddy got home to go hike Camelback to see if I could maybe help look for this kid.  It had been 3 days and I knew if he was up there and found, that it was not going to be good.  Still, I asked whoever is in fucking control of this life, for a miracle.  Just as I pulled in, I saw that the mountain was closed and a sign was posted saying a rescue was in progress.  My stomach sank as I drove off to hike my little back up mountain as I watched the helicopters hover about.  Please let him be alive.  Please, please, please.  I came home and checked the internet for the news.  A few hours later the updated story was posted.  A hiker was found dead about 200 feet from the top of the mountain, but they would not confirm that it was indeed the hiker that went missing on Saturday.  The next day it was confirmed that it was the missing hiker from Washington State. My thoughts immediately went to his family as I could actually imagine what it was that they were feeling due to knowing what it is like to know your child is dead. The shock.  The numbness.  The pain that hurts so badly that it is almost indescribable to put into words. I know what all of that is like and I’m just sorry that those parents now do, too.  It’s been over a week and I can’t stop thinking of this kid and what happened.  I will never be able to hike that mountain again without thinking of him and his family. It’s just beyond sad.

I talked to some of the regular hikers after it happened.  Eric’s body was found about 500 feet below the summit.  They showed me where he was found as I wiped the tears away from my face.  The cause of death has not been released, but I imagine it had to do with the heat and the fact that he was not familiar with the mountain which caused him to end of getting lost and disoriented.  The whole thing just makes me incredibly sad and not that I need it but it is a reminder of how precious and short life really can be.  And yes, it is also a reminder that I know I need to be careful up there because I do not really want to die.  Sometimes I just want a break from all of this pain though.  I maybe need to find a better way to help with that instead of hiking up a mountain during the hottest part of the day.

Your brothers turned 11 yesterday, Ronan.  I cannot believe I have 11 year olds and more so I cannot believe I am lucky enough to have the amazing 11 year olds that I do.  I could not be more proud of the little men they are becoming and I know without a doubt they are a big reason of why I have been able to survive the loss of you.  They have saved me and someday, I will tell them this when they are a little older to understand exactly what that means.  You were missed yesterday so very much.

I’m going to run now.  It’s 4 in the morning here and I’m back to keeping the hours of a vampire.  Up most of the night and functioning on just a few hours of sleep.  It’s the only time I’m able to work on this book writing as Poppy takes up any other time that I have left.  Dr. Sholler is actually going to be at our house in about an hour.  She is here for the next few days and I’m taking her up Camelback for an early morning hike, before it gets too hot.  No way I would ever take that precious cargo to the inferno.  She has too many kiddos to save.

I miss you.  I love you. I hope you are safe.

Bye, little man.

xoxo

I kind of think I might do this one day.

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“Desert Runners” is supporting The Ronan Thompson Foundation during the month of June! The film follows ordinary people pushing themselves to extraordinary limits by competing in 4 ultra-marathons in the most treacherous deserts in the world.

Much like how RTF will never quit on funding for new treatments and defeating childhood cancer, these runners will never quit on their goals.

The film is available for download at http://buy.desertrunnersmovie.com/ Any amount of money you choose to spend over $9.99 will be donated to the Ronan Thompson Foundation for us to pursue our goals and fund cutting-edge childhood cancer research. Enter the code: RONAN at checkout and receive a 10% discount on the film!

If you spend over $11 you will unlock the SUPERFAN PACKAGE and get access to over 30 minutes of bonus content including interviews with the director, cinematographer, executive producer and the desert runner himself Ricky Paugh.

We are so very excited to be a part of this amazing adventure.  Clink on the link below to watch and support RTF! Thank you, Desert Runners for choosing RTF as the charity to support!!

http://buy.desertrunnersmovie.com

I have something new to share…

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This has been in the works now for some time now, but we’ve just been being a little quiet about it.  As a board, we decided RTF needed a new logo.  It was hard for me to part with the baby seal, as it had sentimental value.  Nobody really understood why we had a seal as our logo.  It was because “Ronan” means “Little Seal” in Gaelic, but most people don’t know that therefore the seal was confusing.  We were getting a lot of, “Are you trying to save the seals or what?” No dudes, we’re trying to save kids with cancer… how do you not get that from looking at a seal? (kidding. I know it is confusing if you don’t know the back story)

We met with some very talented and kind people at Fervor Creative for hours upon hours.  I even had them revamp your seal logo before my board members told me they were just not feeling it anymore.  So I took Tanya and Fernanda to have yet another meeting with them.  We sat and talked about you and the things that came to mind when we thought of you.  I had a picture in my mind of something really simple.  A boy wearing a Fedora. With his head held high, like you alway had yours. We also talked about stars and the significance of those to us.  I knew having Fernanda with me was vital to getting this done finally the right way.  She has a way of expressing her thoughts about what you represent in such a beautiful way and sometimes I am too sad to do so.

We got some samples back and as soon as I saw them, I started to cry.  What they came up with is beyond perfect and I am beyond in love with it.  I sent it to your daddy and he had the same reaction.  He said it reminded him of the book, “The Little Prince” which he loved to read to you.  I knew from both of our reactions, that this was perfection.

So, here you go Ro and supporters of The Ronan Thompson Foundation.  Makeover complete.  Thank you to Fervor Creative for taking a bunch of rambling words full of such love and pain, and turning it into something as beautiful as this.  You have hearts of gold for taking this on and not charging us a dime.  We are forever thankful for what you have created for us and promise to continue to do good things in this world with the gift you have given us.

 

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Taylor, you will forever have my heart. Thank you for continuing to be such a voice for these kids. I love you.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/taylor-swift-visits-cancer-patients_n_5021039.html

The treadmill made me do it.

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Ronan. So, this happened tonight. The usual running around like mad, Poppy is into everything, I’m trying to get something on the table for your brothers to eat before they come home. I have so much nervous energy today that I haven’t slowed down once.  I know as soon as your daddy and brothers walk through the door I will be handing over Poppy to them so I can go and work out because if I don’t, bad things will happen.  At least that is what I tell myself in my head.  I go to my little class where I find myself in a room full of people that I have no interest in talking to, half are doing weights/floor exercises and the other half are on the treadmills while we are getting instructed on what we need to be doing.  I am of course on the treadmill, happily running away while staring at myself in a mirror. My reflection looks sad but determined.

We take turns running at our base pace which for me is a 6.7 speed and 3 incline.  We are told to step it up for 90 second all outs so of course I push myself to the max.  5 incline, 8.0 speed.  I start to run as hard as I can and my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest, but of course I don’t stop.  All of a sudden, I really can’t breathe or catch my breath for what feels like minutes.  Then it happens.

Is this how Ronan felt, right before he died? 

He couldn’t breathe, he ran out of air, oxygen, and probably felt just like this right before he died. 

How could you have let this happen? How could you not have saved him after you promised him that you would? You are the worst human being on the planet. You let your child die and now you just get to continue on with life while he does not? How is that at alright? You should be dead, not him. 

Fuck you. You don’t get to stop and sit here and think about how hard this is and how you want slow down and stop. You keep going because you are not the little boy who got cancer and died.  You get to be here and do this and you don’t get to stop. Ever. 

I stare up at the screen which is monitoring my heart rate and beg for it to come down because if it does not soon, I know I will pass out.  I continue with the torture of beating myself up on the treadmill while flashes of you dying and taking your last breaths fill my mind.  The person leading the class is now keeping a watchful eye on me as I think he has caught on to the fact that I might be over doing it just a tad.  An hour later and I am finished and I somehow make it to my car only to drive home to a house that doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. I head straight for the shower and try my hardest to scrub the images of you not being here out of my head, but it doesn’t work.  I then throw myself in my bed, where I cry the tears for you that I haven’t had for a few days.

Your daddy comes in, asking me what happened.  I ignore him and continue to cry into our mattress. When I finally come up for air, I snap at him that nothing has to happen, for something to be wrong. That I just want to be fucking sad for the one thing that I will be sad about for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to be hovered over.  I don’t want anyone to wipe away my tears. I just want to be left alone.

This is all I can say for tonight. I’ll let my friend, Tyler Knott say the rest.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

Typewriter Series #690 by Tyler Knott Gregson

There will come a time, a day, a moment when words are not enough.
When the letters hooking to other letters and tying themselves
to each other, the trains of vowels and consonants chasing each other
out of my mouth just won’t do justice to the avalanche that you’re
struggling through.
If this is that day, if these are those moments I will not speak,
but I have no choice but to leave you with these attempts, as futile
as they might be, for words are all I have to offer
and the only currency I believe in:

This is not, and never will be, a goodbye. You should not, and never can
hold onto the should haves or could haves or why didn’t I’s.
The time will come, I promise you, for us all to stop wearing these bodies
atop these souls.  The time of taking one long, full and deep breath
in through these lungs only to exhale it out through brand new lips.
The last light we will ever see through these perfect and beautiful eyes
will be the first light, the exact same and blindingly gorgeous first
light that filters through new irises and shocks our tiny pupils
before we blink. What a gift every single day in between has always been.
What a hauntingly painful and sublimely joyous gift to live, truly live
every single day in between these firsts and yes, these lasts.
Do not carry the weight of all you did not say, the times you did not make
the time or the excuses you made, because there is a secret you must know:
Those that leave us, never do. They see us how we never could and how we
were always so scared to. When they go, bravely stepping into the first day
of their new lives, all they pack into the bags they choose to carry,
are the memories that soothe their longing and and settle their aching bones.
It is we, always we that carries the luggage of regret and burdens of doubt
Somewhere, right this very second, they are beginning their journey back
into love. Somewhere, right this very instant, the first wobbly steps in their
search has begun again.  Somewhere, the only person that truly makes sense to
them, the only person to ever exist and exist exactly for them, is waiting. 

You will hurt.  You will cry and you will be scared. You will miss and long
and ache and look for their fingerprints on the life you’re going to lead
without them.  You will swear you heard, if only for an instant, the sound
of their laughter or the timbre of their voice.  This is ok, and more than
that, this is beautiful.  Hold onto the sadness you feel like a trophy.
Hoist it high above your head and shout to the photo that is not being taken
of you that you loved them, you will always love them and you are proud
of the tears that roll down your face. They live inside the memories that give
shape to those tears and you must never apologize for your sorrow, nor your
joy when it too returns to your days. 

These are the words for those that remain; for all of us and all of you that
are left scrambling and shaking and weeping tears of compassion and joy and
confusion.  These are words when words are not enough.  I say them because I
must say them, because words are all I have to offer besides my shoulder and
my hands and my belief that this is not and never will be goodbye.
Today is and always has been such a perfect day to say goodbye,
and to once again, say Hello.

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

 

 

 

A quick little check in because I miss you oh so very much.

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Ronan. Oh, how I miss this little blog so very much.  It makes me so sad not to be writing on here like I used to.  This will always be my first home, my first comfort after a hard day, and where I found my love for writing.  It’s hard to be away from this space that I used to find so much solace in. I cannot seem to keep up with life let alone a blog these days, not to mention this book I’m working on.  And holy shitballs, I totally have forgotten how much work it is to have a new baby.  Things are so freaking busy around here that I feel like my head is going to fly off and just explode.  Oh, and my grief.  I miss being with my grief a.k.a Inferno Fuckwad Bob, so very much. It’s not good for me to not have the time to nurture and sit with my grief the way Dr. Jo has taught me to do.  I promise that I will make some time for it soon.

I can try to sum up what has been going on, but I have no way of remembering everything.  Macy came into town for about a week and it was of course the most beautiful happy/sad/ time.  She was in for work so she got to spend two weekends with us which is always so good for my soul.  We laughed a lot and cried a lot as well.  On one particularly hard Sunday, I found myself curled up in her arms on your bed where I just sobbed for you as the missing you part of all of this never gets easier.  It still sends me into a whirlwind of complete and utter devastation at the drop of a hat.  My time with Macy wasn’t all tears.  We had the BEST time playing with your Poppy Roo and making up ridiculous songs to her like, “My two moms” which was all about the fact that Poppy does indeed, have two moms because if I wasn’t married to your daddy, I would totally marry her;) She is the best wife ever and one of my other little soul mates floating around on this earth.

Poppy came down with a little fever while she was here and we wound up in the waiting room at our pediatricians office where we know we really did look like Poppy’s two mom’s as we were resting each others heads on one another’s while Macy sat and rubbed my arm.  I pretty much wanted to curl up and die when I saw Dr. Campbell exam Poppy and Macy’s eyes fill with tears as she did her routine exam which included the pressing down hard on her belly to make sure there was nothing out of the ordinary there.  Macy knew why she was doing that and there was no stopping her tears from falling.  I just gave her a weak smile as I watched her wipe them away.  We talked about it afterwards and how hard it often is for me to walk back into our pediatricians office without you. Well, it’s always really hard for me to walk back in anywhere we used to go, without you.  Macy watched as I had to fill out the new patient forms updating our family info such as kids’ names, ages, etc… I looked over at Mace and said, “I’m writing Ronan down, too. He is still my child.” Macy just looked at me and said, “Of course you should,” as she gave my hand a little squeeze.

My weeks have been filled with pretty much everything Poppy and just trying to keep up with her.  I truly had forgotten what it is like to have a baby and now a very active baby.  How 10 months already flew by, I do not know.  She is the happiest little thing and it is so beautiful to see.  She is my constant reminder that no matter how hard of a time I truly think I am having, because there still are times that those voices creep into my head and tell me that everything I am doing is wrong… Poppy is proof that I am actually doing alright.  I don’t think she would be such a happy girl if I really were doing as shitty as I sometimes think I am.  I know the weeks that are hardest for me seem to be the weeks that I am not sleeping well.  It’s when my insomnia kicks in that the screaming in my head seems to always be the loudest.  This past week has been alright and I am so thankful for that because if I would have checked in with you last week, I would have told you I had my bags packed to check into an insane asylum.

Your brothers and their never ending sports have been keeping me busy as well, although I give pretty much all of the credit to your daddy who is the one who really keeps them on track with all if it with his coaching of their baseball team, helping out with baseball, and flag football. He is the most amazing basketball coach and has your brothers team ranked #2 in all of Arizona for a fourth grade team.  I know you would be so proud of that and basketball truly seems to have been such a saving grace to your brothers.  It has kept them focused, on track, and it’s almost like a form of therapy for them.  I could not be more proud of their dedication, will and determination.

I’ve been hiking, running, and doing my little Orange Theory Workouts like crazy.  Exercise is still one of the main things that quiets the screaming in my head and gives me just enough of a break to stay sane.  My time at the top of Camelback is always my favorite as it really is the time I feel quietest and closest to you.  The other day while I was sitting on a rock, thinking about you, I had a little hummingbird fly right up to my face.  I grabbed my iPhone thinking there was no way it was going to stay right there long enough for me to get a picture, but it did and I was able to snap the most amazing photo.  It was a moment that I still have not been able to find the words for.  I absolutely know that it was a little sign from you telling me that you are always with me.  On Saturday morning I hiked Camelback with Tricia and Marisa- my two oldest besties from my previous life when you were still here, alive and well.  It has been so long since I have been with the two of them and I cannot tell you how nice it felt.  We had breakfast for Marisa’s birthday and then decided to brave it up Camelback Mountain in the middle of our little Arizona rainy day.  Once we were at the top and had been sitting for a while,   that little hummingbird flew right up to me again.  It gave me goosebumps and chills all at the same time.  I think it was your way of telling me that you were so happy to see me spending time again with my old friends, as you know they are so good for me.  It’s taken me a lot time to be able to get to a place again where I can truly connect with the ones who knew you, loved you, and hurt so badly from losing you.  For a long time the pain of being around them was just too much, but now I feel like I am at a place where I am ready and able to come back.  I am just so thankful that they have both just been standing by for my return.  I have missed them so much and Saturday ended up being the most perfect day.  As soon as we were finishing up our hike, it started pouring down rain.  Marisa said she knew that you made it rain at that perfect time because had it been raining like that as we were climbing down Camelback, one of us would have surly fallen and broken our necks as that mountain is beyond slippery and dangerous when it’s wet.

I am trying to make myself do things that I know make me feel somewhat good because I know the shit storm of May is fast approaching.  Things like buying tickets to upcoming concerts like Lorde and Lana Del Rae, both whom I am so freaking excited for.  Also things like spending time with the ones who I know are best for my soul like our dear Kassie who I spent all of Saturday with watching “Girls” episodes while eating Nutella straight out of the jar. Ummm… excuse me…. but where has this thing called Nutella been all of my life?! It’s like crack in a jar and I might have a problem especially during my nights of insomnia where I always find myself with a spoonful of it in my mouth. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest and I have learned that finding people who truly feed your soul is the best medicine around.  I am very blessed to have the friends that I do, I know this. Your Sparkly was inquiring about my weekend and I told him I had spent Saturday night, cuddled up with my 23-year-old best friend.  He said something like, “How come you love to spend so much time with people who are so much younger than you?” I just laughed and told him I like to hang out with people based on who they are as human beings and age is not a factor.  I like to spend my time with the people who make me think about things, who push me to do better and be better, and who actually somewhat get me – himself included.  I often feel like people get too caught up in this whole age thing in life.  You should just be with the people that make you happiest and Kassie truly makes my heart sing.  I wish so badly you could be here to know her, Ronan.  Sometimes when I’m watching her with your Poppy sister, I close my eyes and pretend it’s you that she is bonding with, kissing on, and loving.  I know that in a way it is and sometimes that even makes me smile.

Alright little man.  I promise to write more later.  So much more I need to tell you/fill you in on but this is all I have time for as of now.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

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