Dear Empire State Building,
I am sure you have received many letters much like this one, and many more will come. My hope is that you realize that each letter you receive represents a child, a precious human life that has fought that unfair fight of childhood cancer. The letters and petition that have been handed to you asking you to light the Empire State Building gold for childhood cancer awareness represent a chain reaction. This chain reaction is one made of broken hearts, tired, sad mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends of the strongest people in the world who are thrust into the world of cancer with no choice and absolutely no warning.
I knew a brave little soul who was pushed into that dark world years ago.
Dylan Anthony was an eager, bright, blue-eyed little boy with a mischievous smile and a contagious laugh. He was in the summer of his fourteenth year of life when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. As a ninth grader, the thought of death never crosses your mind even with such a serious diagnosis. I remember laughing when when I was told, not because I found this news to be even remotely funny, but because it was so hard to wrap my mind around. Cancer does not happen to fourteen year olds, right? Wrong! It does. Dylan was so sick, weak and tired during his treatments that the only people really allowed to be around him was his family.
All his friends could do was watch Caringbridge for updates on how he was doing on a day to day basis and get a phone call in every now and then when he was awake. When he did come to say hi months after his diagnosis, the harsh steroids had left him unrecognizable. After months of treatments that just left him sicker, the chemo just suddenly stopped working. Two weeks later, he was gone. Two things stick out in my mind the day of his funeral. His eight year old brother as he carried his big brother’s coffin up to the front of the church and his mother’s scream as she lied herself on top of his coffin yelling his name over and over as if to will her son back from the dead.
That is the ugly truth about childhood cancer. A fourteen year old died with dreams unfulfilled and a life ended before it had any chance to really begin. Dylan and so many others fight every day for a chance at life so that they can one day make their individual mark on the world. You have a chance to start a chain reaction of your own and make a difference in the world by lighting up the Empire State gold to raise awareness for these sweet, innocent children like Dylan who deserve so much better! I ask that you take that chance!