BK’s YouTube Picks: The Truth About Childhood Cancer

I’ve been caught on the uni train over the last couple of months, but today, I wanted to come home and share with you an important message.

Today, a wonderful, wise, spunky, talented young woman named Kylie Myers should have been having her 13th birthday. Instead, last week her family and friends came together as they mourned her death from Ewing’s Sarcoma, all wearing Kylie’s favourite colour of yellow (which also happens to be the colour for children’s cancer awareness). It was last Autumn I learned of the Myers family when the 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation shared a video Kylie had made doing a parody cover of ‘All About that Bass’. On Christmas Day my Mum and I took ‘Smiley for Kylie’ photos to post to the Myers family on twitter down near Cramond Island in Edinburgh – the aim was to have Smiley for Kylie photos from every country in the world. It may sound trivial, but I know from when I’ve faced difficult times, how much it has encouraged me to keep pushing on and fighting through having messages and words of encouragement from the online community.

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Kylie and her family, and her friend, Bailey (an osteosarcoma survivor) were involved in the Truth 365 campaign – which is trying to raise awareness and action to get the government to put more of their cancer research funding into childhood cancer research and giving a voice to the children who have battled childhood cancers. It is RIDICULOUS how little has changed for children’s cancer research and how little funding it gets because of it being “rare”. (By the way, this isn’t just an American thing, in the UK very little research funding goes to childhood cancers either).

So my YouTube Pick of the week is from Truth 365 – videos from Kylie, and her three close friends.

Kylie may be in a better place…but it sucks that the world lost her when she had so much talent, love, joy and wisdom to bring to us all. And I will continue raising my voice about the need for more research (and help raise funds where I can too).

Also please be thinking of Kylie’s family today – her Mum, Dad and three sisters especially. They are Christians, so I know if you believe in the power of prayer and want to pray for them, they will appreciate it. You can also in Kylie’s honour, make someone smile and/or take a smiley selfie. They would love it if you could post it on twitter or instagram with the #SmileItForward hashtag or tag Kylie’s twitter & instagram (@smileyforkylie). If it’s making someone smile, they’d love to hear what you did to make that person smile. Annoyingly, I’m all alone in the house tonight so I’ve got no one to sing or do silly dance to! I had to settle for trying to take a silly selfie at the university (which resulted in some weird looks from university staff and a few students walking past).

To all the families like the Myers clan who have battled cancer and want to end the fight once and for all…

…we stand with you.

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1 Million Christmas Cards for Anna

A few years ago now, my friend Rebecca ran a series on her blog called ‘Careers Week’ where she asked a whole  bunch of us to write a guest post on our career journeys. I was one of her guests, and another was a college (university to the non-Americans) student called Patrice Basso. I think I’d skipped over to Patrice’s blog before that week, as Rebecca would mention her on her blog or twitter, but I don’t think it was until that week that I subscribed properly to her blog. At that time Patrice’s sister Anna was battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for the second time, and Patrice wrote so honestly and eloquently about it all. Their family friend had set up a website called 1 Million 4 Anna, and I sent up prayers.

Sadly, Anna died a few days after her high school graduation.

Anna’s legacy however continues on through the 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation – which is trying to bring smiles to children going through cancer treatments through Anna’s Closet, providing scholarships to those who want to go on to university education (because of course unlike here, in the USA many of these families will be affected by huge medical bills and university fees are astronomical) and of course, to fund research into finding treatments (and hopefully a cure) for Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well a few years ago, Rebecca came to myself and our friend Holly (who at the time was living on the other side of the world) and asked us to help her with an idea that she had inspired by one of her patients who had died from cancer. This patient who we nicknamed ‘Robin’ had a Christmas wish which she shared with Rebecca while she was being cared for in hospital. She said to her: “if I had a Christmas wish now it would be really fun, Rebecca, if everyone in the world could just send anyone a Christmas card… it would be fun to send a Christmas card to someone you have never met. We all send our friends and family cards but not to anyone else. It would be fun to spread good will to other people as well too.”

With Robin’s family’s blessing Rebecca started Airmail Christmas, Holly and I promoted it on our blogs, and as I had the week off work I assigned all the participants random numbers and generated Christmas card exchange pairings. Rebecca has continued on the tradition, each year doing it in honour of someone connected with us through our online community. Last year we did it in honour of our friend’s mother who died of cancer that year – ‘Mama MB’.

This year, we will be doing Airmail Christmas in honour of Anna Basso.

So if you’d like to participate you can find the details over on Rebecca’s blog, where Patrice has written a little bit about her sister. The deadline for participation sign up is December 1st, and you need to be willing to pay international postage on a Christmas card (and share an address with Rebecca and one stranger who will send YOU a card)! 🙂