Dear Empire State Building –
My name is Kate. I am 9 and lucky enough to not have cancer. I know what I want to be when I grow up, but I hope that job isn’t available anymore when I’m a grownup. I want to cure cancer and help little kids get back to normal life! You might wonder why a kid without cancer would care so much about it, so I will tell you…
When I was six, I learned about Ronan and Maya Thompson and my whole life changed. Unfortunately, I could only know Ro through his mama’s stories about him because he died. My mom is my best friend – just like Ro & Maya were best friends. My mama read me Maya’s list of “How to Live Like a Rockstar” and we have been doing that ever since. I didn’t want mamas to have to feel like Maya feels every day because cancer took her sweet spicy monkey away.
My friends and I do everything we can for kids with cancer. We dance to raise money, we decorate pillowcases and posters to brighten hospital rooms, we host lemonade stands, we wear bracelets, we write their names in the sand on beaches, we release balloons on their birthdays and so much more. We do all we can, but we need the help of powerful adults to put big smiles on kids’ faces. Kids are supposed to be in parks playing with their mamas and daddies, not tucked away in hospital rooms. PLEASE HELP US.
The other day, I gave away really good lemonade and lollipops at our park to raise awareness about Childhood Cancer Month in September. I sat down with two volunteers from Camp Sunshine who wanted to hear all about why I was giving away lemonade. I told them 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day and that they are treated with medicine for adults. I told them every fact I could remember. They promised to tell more people. Then there were people who never even stopped to get my lemonade or one of the lollipops. It mad me really sad – not because I was a kid GIVING AWAY lemonade, but because that was one more person who didn’t know how big of a problem childhood cancer is and how much these kids need help.
If I could, I would go to companies who make medicine and ask them to help, but I’m a little girl. So, I have to do what I can and be sure to get great grades so I can go to medical school and fix it myself. My mama tells me to ask adults for help when I can’t do something by myself. So, for now I am asking you to help me tell more adults who can help. I live in Boston, but I love New York – everything about it. During my first trip to New York, you were lit up pink for breast cancer. And I just saw you lit up green for the Ninja Turtles – my friends love them! You have such a beautiful building and I hope you will light it up GOLD. That will put smiles on the faces of kids, mamas and daddies everywhere!
I know you are very busy. So, if you take one thing from my letter, please take Maya’s advice on living like a Rockstar. She said, “Trust your instincts. Listen to your heart as it is more powerful than your mind.” I hope your heart will show you the power of fighting for kids with cancer.
Our lovely friends at SpirtHoods are re-relasing the ever so popular Spicy Monkey just in time for September! There will only be a limited number available and the first time around, they sold out fast!
Stay tuned for a release date! We love this company so much!!!
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.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate and Future Pediatric Oncologist
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,
Dear Empire State Building,
Unfortunately, my family was introduced to the ugly world of childhood cancer this year. Our lives were turned completely upside down on March 7th, 2014 when our four year old daughter Olivia was diagnosed with Leukemia. Then the following day, when cancer already knocked us to the ground, it kicked us again when we found out the type of Leukemia Olivia had, we were told it was AML. A rare cancer in children that would keep her in the hospital for her entire treatment. Why did she have to be kept in the hospital you would ask? Because the type and amount of chemotherapy she would need to have to fight this horrible disease is extremely dangerous and she needed to be monitored while she received her chemotherapy and as her whole immune system would completely bottom out and come back again.
After finding out Olivia’s diagnosis we had to wait for further tests to see if she would need a bone marrow transplant or not. Fortunately, after her first round of chemotherapy (5 weeks in-patient) she went into remission and this among other good test results she received meant she did not need a bone marrow transplant. We got to go home for 9 days, then packed up and had to move right back into the hospital for her second round of chemotherapy. This time we were in-patient for 4 weeks. Then we got to go home for 5 days just to pack up and move right back into the hospital for her third round of chemotherapy. We were in-patient for 4 weeks again, got to go home for 7 days and then back in for her fourth, final and scariest round which was 6 weeks in-patient. We had always been told once she went into remission that it wouldn’t be the disease that would kill her, it would be the infections that she could potentially get from the chemotherapy wiping out her immune system. Once she would receive her chemo about a week later, her body would have no way of fighting off even the tiniest infection that you or I could with no problem. We watched an infection almost take our baby girl from us in her fourth round. She slowly got worse and worse every day from a cellulitis infection which landed her in the ICU for over a week. She received white blood cell transfusions to help her body fight off the infection which were extremely hard on her body making her get really high fevers that Tylenol (the only form of medication a Leukemia patient can take for a fever) couldn’t knock out. These weren’t tiny fevers either, these were fevers in the 105 range, her highest being 105.9 at one time. After 5 days of these transfusions she then got pneumonia in one of her lungs that almost forced them to sedate and put her on a breathing machine for. We were devastated when her oncologist who usually is the most upbeat and positive person came in to see her and had a very sad look on his face. I completely lost it, begging him to tell me my little girl would be okay. I was crushed when he said, “I’m sorry I can’t do that, we are not good at predicting the future.” His face and tone of voice said it all, he said he was scared and we knew that just by looking at him. But our strong and amazing Olivia fooled us all when she started to get better literally the very next day. We got out of the hospital 3 weeks ago and now we are still waiting for her little body to recover and are waiting on her last bone marrow aspiration results to make sure she is in fact still in remission.
We have had to watch our daughter be put under anesthesia 7 times so far. We have had to watch nurses come into her room wearing hazmat gear while they hooked up the chemo, why hazmat gear? Because they can’t be exposed to the pure poison we allowed them to send through our child’s tubes and into her veins. Once a week (some weeks more than once) she has had to go through “dressing changes” where they have to painfully take the bandage off of her Broviac (the tubes literally hanging out of her chest) to put a new one on. Countless platelet and red blood transfusions. A cellulitis infection on her private area which forced us to make Olivia pull down her pants to show every doctor and nurse who came in her room to check on her. As you can imagine this was extremely hard on her as she has been told and told before diagnosis that we don’t show our private parts to anyone. This same infection required surgery where they had to insert a drainage tube that had to stay in for 2 weeks. I have had to hold her down while she kicked and screamed through dressing changes, x-rays and an NG tube being inserted through her nose, down her throat and into her stomach because she couldn’t keep the disgusting contrast down for one of her many CT scans she had to have. NO child should EVER have to see, feel or know what my four year old has. NO parent should ever have to watch their child be put through any of this. It’s pure hell, nothing anyone can imagine unless you’ve been through it yourself. And trust me, you aren’t exempt, this can happen to anyone.
I was just like anyone else that has never seen a child suffer through cancer – I think Maya puts it perfectly – “blissfully ignorant”. I assumed that all funds received for cancer went to all types of cancers including childhood cancer. I actually assumed that children got more than adults! I remember the first time another oncology mom I met in the beginning of this horrible journey of mine told me that childhood cancer is disgustingly underfunded. I didn’t believe her! I thought, “There is no way we would treat our children this way! Whatever happened to “children are our future”??? That is when I decided to Google childhood cancer and how much money goes to research. I was crazy angry and saddened to learn that because less children get cancer than adults, researching childhood cancer isn’t profitable to the pharmaceutical companies. So basically my child just like the 46 children who will be diagnosed with cancer today aren’t important enough to do more research for.
Olivia will have to get blood work done for the rest of her life to make sure she doesn’t relapse. There is a 35-40% chance she will. 35-40%! I know that doesn’t sound like a big chance but it’s not good enough! For everything she went through to go into remission she should have a 0% chance. That 35% will haunt me for the rest of my life. That 35% is putting me on anti-anxiety medication so that I can at the very least barely get by every time I have to wait for the results from her blood tests.
My family will never be the same. I, now as an oncology mommy will never be the same. Every fever, every bruise, and every illness will send me over the edge. I also have a two year old son whose world was rocked as well. He had to live without mommy and daddy for five and a half months while we spent every agonizing day in the hospital with Olivia.
Have you not experienced this? Have you not had a family member experience this? Have you not had a friend experience this? Be thankful…but then realize that you’ve been made very aware and now you can make a difference! The children with cancer and their families shouldn’t be the only ones who know about this. The entire world needs to know about childhood cancer and then they need to be aware that the American Cancer Society doesn’t do anything for our children. We are on our own, which is why you have so many parents of children with cancer in an uproar. We are their only hope. I will forever fight for awareness. Everyone needs to know what GOLD stands for!
Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Payton. I am fifteen, almost sixteen. I have never been in the hospital. I do not have cancer. None of the people close to me have cancer. Still, I am a pediatric cancer advocate. I read the blog of Maya Thompson after I heard Taylor Swift’s song Ronan. This soon led to multiple children on Facebook, who I look for on my newsfeed everyday. One of these children is Lilly Bumpus. She’s a beautiful toddler, in remission. She suffers from side effects of the 75% adult strength chemo she was given. Seizures and tics, with no explanation. She has night terrors, about people coming in and waking her up in the middle of the night to check her vital signs.
I’m writing this from a hospital bed, as my appendix was just removed. So I can understand how the nighttime checks could scare someone so young. What just happened to me is nothing. Nothing, compared to what so many children go through. They live with IV needles and ports and constant pain. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to leave a needle in your vein for a long time, but it sucks. These children go through surgery and chemo, radiation and clinical trials. While we, as people who understand how horrible this disease is, fight for awareness, these kids, teenagers, and babies fight for their lives. In the US, 7 of them lose everyday. 46 are signed up to fight. Families are forced into this battle, for their kids. I cannot even imagine life without my little sister. Some of those siblings, whose brothers and sisters you refuse to represent, know what that life is like.
Maya Thompson’s older sons learned that at 8 years old. When his 1 year old sister got a black eye in a baby tumble, one of these boys asked his mom if baby Poppy was going to die. An 11 year old. Because he watched as cancer took his 3 year old brother. No child should ever have to fight cancer, no parent should ever have to lose a child to cancer, no sibling should ever have to watch this disease take their brother or sister. You don’t need to know someone closely. You just have to look around and realize how wrong these kids’ situation is. You just have to want to help them. To tell everyone, “pediatric cancer is wrongly underfunded, and we need awareness, so we can save these kids.”
Some people are pulled into this fight for their loved ones,and to make sure it never happens to someone else’s, but I fight for all of them. For Ronan and Lilly, Paxton and Mateo, Ellie and Alyna. I want you to light up gold, so in the future, Babies like Alyna, toddlers like Ro, and teens like Talia won’t die. So Lilly and Kaitlin and so many others can stay in remission. And Mateo and Ellie and every other kid facing cancer can win. Childhood cance is wrong. You don’t have to experience that to know it’s true.
Please light up gold,
It’s time to… #BeBoldGoGold!
Get your glitter on! We’re kicking off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with a bang & a sparkle! Throughout September, we’re turning ourselves into spicy, gold human billboards for childhood cancer awareness and want YOU to join us! Welcome to the #BeBoldGoGold Challenge!
HOW IT WORKS:
-You deck yourself out in your gold bling or glitter—jewelry, clothes, facepaint, you name it, you rock it. You head out into a public place. Talk to at least one person about childhood cancer—tell them a fact, like that 46 are diagnosed with cancer every day. The goal is to raise awareness, so talk to as many people as you can & encourage them to take the #BeBoldGoGold Challenge
-Film/photograph your adventure, and tag us in it! We’re reposting submissions to our new #BeBoldGoGold Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When you post your video/photo, nominate 3 people to carry out the challenge by tagging them. They have 48 hours after being tagged to get their gold on! Make sure to hashtag #BeBoldGoGold and #RTF.
-At the end of September, we’re giving a prize to whoever goes all out and makes the biggest impact (aka raises the most awareness)! We’ll also have #BeBoldGoGold shirts available to purchase (link coming soon). If you would prefer to donate instead of (or in addition to) the challenge, visit: http://www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com/ & share the link.
The Challenge kicks off August 29th… stay gold!
Dear Empire State Building Employees,
There is something you need to understand about childhood cancer and those affected. And there is something you need to understand about social media. We don’t fight alone. Nobody does. A stranger’s battle becomes each of ours. We are in it together. We all talk to each other, and we know it was more than one individual who requested you to light up gold. We know. At least two nonprofit organizations have filled out the form on your website, in hopes of seeing your building light up gold for one night next month. One night is all we ask. We know you have gold light bulbs. Sure, individuals have requested for you to do the same, and perhaps you feel justified in denying them, and perhaps you are, in fact, justified. But when two nonprofit charities have diligently filled out the form, and sent it in, and they are still refused, what then? Are we supposed to just give up? That isn’t how we operate at all. We fight daily for our kids, for our families, for the other kids we know who are fighting for their lives, and yes, for ourselves. Because some of us, me included, are survivors of childhood cancer.
And we all are friends on social media platforms. We all talk to each other. We know who has filled the form on your website. We know parents who posted pictures of their sick children on your Facebook wall, and those posts were promptly deleted by the person who who administrates the page. We just wanted you to see what you were saying no to. We just wanted you to see who you were saying no to. We wanted you to see the babies you are refusing to help. But you just block everyone. Why? We are just going to keep asking. I think all of you know that.
In your statement, you say you provide lighting for World Cancer Day in partnership with American Cancer Society. That is pretty amazing. But did you know that American Cancer Society only gives a penny or less out of every dollar they receive to pediatric cancer? There is a reason why we want you to go gold next month. Pediatric cancer is grossly underfunded. It gets less than 4% of federal funding and there are more types of childhood cancer than you can count on your fingers. On both hands. Everyone in the childhood cancer social media community and in their orbits knows about childhood cancer. Most people step up to help. Other people have their own causes, their own problems. But for us, this is it. This is worth fighting for. Would you not say your own children were worth fighting for? Would you not do anything for them? Their lives depend on you. Sick children’s lives depend on us, on awareness, on action.
That brings me to what you said about people getting frustrated and wishing cancer on you. First off, I doubt that was what really happened. Nobody in this community would ever wish cancer on somebody else, even someone they don’t get along with very well. Cancer is a horrible nightmare. If you had gone through it, either yourself or with a loved one, you would know that. If someone within our community is “abusive,” as you say, then it is out of sheer frustration and has nothing to do with you personally. We are all human. We are all running a million miles a minute and getting nowhere fast. You said no to Thumbs Up for Lane Goodwin Childhood Cancer Foundation and you said no to The Ronan Thompson Foundation. We have been asking for at least two years. If we get a little frustrated, who are you to blame us, really? Kids are dying every single day all over the world, and these are battles we can’t fight for them. But the fight for awareness and funding? That is what we can do. We will keep coming. We will keep asking. And that is a promise.
Stage IV neuroblastoma survivor
Diagnosed at 15 and a half months
I have been in the middle of writing on my blog for weeks now, but I have had so much to say that my post has gotten insanely long. I was going to try to finish it tonight, but between being so wiped out because all of my babes are sick this week, book writing, and very little sleep… I don’t know if it is going to happen. I also now have to write a blog post about something that I am VERY upset about which is going to cut into my updating you all even more. In the past, I have requested to have the Empire State Building lit up Gold for one night during the month of September to shine awareness on childhood cancer. My requests have always been denied for some really lame ass reasons. They light it up for pretty much every cause out there, but apparently childhood cancer is not good enough to be one of them. Last night it was lit up green for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Go turtles!) Seriously, WTF? You can light it up for a movie, but not real life heroes like kids who are fighting cancer??
I am LIVID and I am in the middle of writing a “DEAR EMPIRE STATE BUILDING” blog post, but I am not sure if I will have the stamina to finish it tonight. I am not the only one upset about this. The whole childhood cancer community is in an uproar and is blasting this all over social media, but whomever is running the social media for the Empire State Building keeps deleting all posts related to why they should go gold for one night during the month of September. I am going to leave you with this post tonight, written by somebody else until I can finish my own. We need to get moving on this. We need them to do the right thing and change their minds. I know the hard way how little attention childhood cancer gets. My son died because of it. Lack of awareness equals lack of funds and lack of funds is why childhood cancer is the number one disease killer in America.
Please help us out in whatever way you can. Make phone calls to the media about this, leave comments on the Empire State Building’s Facebook Page, Tweet this, anything you can think of to let them know that we are not going to just go away. Our kids fighting cancer do not have a voice. It is up to us as adults to advocate for them. Please use the hashtag #empiregogold. I truly believe if we all come together, they will do the right thing.
WHY THE FUCK IS THIS SO COMPLICATED? ALL I WANT IN THE LIFE BESIDES MY SON BACK IS FOR NO OTHER CHILD TO EVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHAT RONAN WENT THROUGH AND NO OTHER PARENT TO HAVE TO KNOW WHAT LIFE ON THIS EARTH IS LIFE BECAUSE THEIR CHILD IS DEAD.
Childhood Cancer needs all the awareness it can get, otherwise things are never going to change and that is just an unacceptable world to live in. I won’t stand for that and anybody that knows anything about this world, shouldn’t either.
Thank you all always for all that you do. This is a war that cannot be won alone. New York is my favorite city in the world and I am truly hoping this can be turned around in a positive way.
I promise to post soon. If Poppy will get off my boob so I can actually finish typing. For now, read this. Get mad, get angry, don’t stand back and do nothing. Please. I am begging you.