The mom of a child battling cancer asked for someone to sit with her daughter at the hospital for awhile this afternoon so she could take care of an errand. I volunteered. The child has relapsed twice from a malignant tumor. Although I got to the hospital on time – even a couple minutes early, the mom had already left, and the child was sleeping. The little girl didn’t look like the same child I met a year ago. Her face and belly were swollen from the steroids. As she slept, she moaned occasionally. When the nurse came in to take her temperature or to administer meds, the child cried out – actually she growled – and fought – “Don’t touch me!” “No!”

The nurse was calm and reassuring. Steroids do that to a child. I remember when Lily was going through the first phase of treatment for leukemia and was getting heavy doses of steroids – she’d growl, too. Yes, literally growl.

So I sat in a chair for three and a half hours and watched this little girl – a little girl who should be outside playing with her friends, going swimming, enjoying a summer of fun. But she is in the hospital, in pain and being treated with drugs that change not only her outward appearance but her personality as well. Her innocence, her childhood have been stolen by cancer.

EVERY single adult in the country should be required to spend at least one afternoon in a hospital room with a “cancer kid.” It changes your perspective on life. It changes your priorities. It makes you profoundly grateful for your own blessings in life, and it makes you profoundly determined to do WHATEVER you can to end this atrocity. It makes you determined to bring attention to the need for more research on childhood cancer. NO child should ever have to endure what these precious children must endure.

I’m very proud that Lily’s foundation – Lily’s Garden – has funded an endowment at the Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to further research on childhood cancer. But that is only a fraction of what is needed. There IS a cure out there. There IS a cause of cancer. And only more research will find the causes and the cures.

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