Thank You For Your Support

Thank You For Your Support Post

Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Hamilton

I wanted to say thank you to all that made it out last night. It was an incredible event, with an amazing turnout. I also want to say thank you again to all that have donated on the website. We are so thankful for all of the support.

This was a transcript of my speech once all the thank you’s were complete. I replayed the speech in my head many, many times, but wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feeling of emotion. I knew it would be emotional, but I didn’t want to pull a Mike Schmidt retirement ceremony meltdown.

I didn’t breakdown during my thank you’s but was REALLY close and had to hit the eject button. I realized at that point, there was no way I was finishing the speech without breaking down.

Anyways, here goes.

I graduated from Penn St. 15 years ago. Penn St runs the largest student run fundraiser in the country called Dance Marathon, which raises money for pediatric cancer research. Students dance for 48 straight hours. Student that aren’t dancing show up for support. Families come on stage and tell stories of what life is like raising a child with cancer.  There are some success stories, but mostly heartache. Remember this was 15 years ago.  With every story, there were two underlying themes.

  1. Never give up hope, never give up or give in.
  2. The need for more funding.

As a student, these stories stay with you but as time goes by the stories eventually fade like a distant memory.

Fast forward 15 years…After being shuffled around various departments in CHOP, Michele and I found ourselves on the Oncology suite.  As we are sitting there, we see families parading in and out. Children coming in, getting their weekly treatments. It’s part of their weekly routine.  And there are a lot of of children. It breaks your heart.

Then there was a family sitting across from us. They looked just like you or I. The dad had his daughter, no older than two draped over his shoulder. He looked over at us, as if he wanted to talk. But you see, we were in denial. Our kid wasn’t sick; his blood test were normal, never had a fever. He didn’t show any symptoms, except for the large lump in his groin area. We were ready to put this nightmare behind us. Unfortunately the nightmare was just beginning.

Shane Metzgar was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.  Hearing that your child has cancer is the most crippling feeling in the world. It’s the moment when the surreal feeling from all of this becomes real.

Now we are the ones going in for our weekly treatments. It’s become routine for us. It’s our new normal.

I’ll never forget, during our 2nd treatment, I remember standing there, waiting to go back for treatment. I had Shane draped over my shoulder. And there was a family that looked just like you or I sitting across from us. You could see they were in denial, unapproachable just like we were.  I wanted to tell them no matter what the diagnosis is, never give up hope.  But instead all you can do is hope and pray that they have the love support that we have, because you can’t do this alone.

I’ve learned a lot over the course of this journey.  I’ve learned to take a step back from life.  I find myself cherishing each and every moment with my kids, my wife, my family and friends, taking each day at a time. Life can be turned upside down in an instant. My hugs are tighter and my I love you’s much more frequent.

I’ve learned who my heroes are. My heroes are the kids that have to go through this on daily basis.  They are so strong and resilient. I used to look away when we are on the floor, trying not to make eye contact. I didn’t want them to think I was staring. Now I look at them and smile. I want them to know we are rooting for them. It’s one of the few situations in life where we are all on the same team.

My heroes are the nurses and doctors on the oncology floor that go through this on a daily basis, dedicating their lives to helping these kid’s battle this terrible disease. Looking for the perfect treatment, looking for a cure. I have so much respect for them. And of course, my little guy is my biggest hero. His strength and smile keep us going. He is my inspiration. He’s the strongest little guy I know.  I stare at him in amazement. Between the surgeries, the treatments, the scans, he’s always smiling. He’s are our little superhero.

I’ve also learned that there are billions of government dollars spent on cancer research. However, only 4% is earmarked for pediatric cancer. 96% of all funding comes from private donations.  15 years ago, we would have been raising fund for Shane’s hospice care. Today, because of research we have the ability to fight for Shane’s Future Days and every other kid that ends up on the Oncology floor.

I don’t know why Shane was chosen, but cancer messed with the wrong family. We’ll be forever tied to CHOP and we are going to do whatever we can to raise awareness and help build upon the progress going forward.

Thank you and god bless.

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