Thank you to Cam Meyer for sharing his family’s story and experience with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Vs. Cancer program in honor of Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Cam was the top individual fundraiser for 2019 College Baseball Vs. Cancer and has a strong connection to and passion for our mission to care for families along their journey, cure all childhood brain tumors, and help survivors and families thrive.
During the fall of my freshman year on the baseball team at The College of the Holy Cross, we were told that we were going to be raising money for Vs. Cancer. When I found out that Vs. Cancer is a program of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and money goes toward pediatric brain tumor research, I was both amazed and excited. I knew that Vs. Cancer was something I had to raise as much money as possible for and a mission that I could get behind.
My brother Christian was extremely caring, kind, well-liked and funny. He always had a crowd around him wherever he went, and he had everyone in the crowd laughing. I genuinely believe he became friends with every single person that saw his smile, because he was always making someone laugh with his jokes and having conversations with people. He was able to make people laugh harder than I’ve ever seen them laugh before.
On his second birthday, Christian was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor. He had emergency surgery that night to have it removed but had several recurrences of the tumor growing back over the next six years. He endured many more surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but Christian never let cancer keep him from being a normal kid.
As most of us are in Boston, Christian was a huge Red Sox fan and loved watching them whether in the hospital or at home. He got to meet a few of the players when they would visit the hospital while he was going through treatment, and he was always so star-struck.
He was so strong and never looked at his cancer as a bad thing, but rather just an obstacle. Ultimately, the cancer could not be controlled and Christian sadly passed away one month after his eighth birthday.
The advice I would give to someone if their sibling is facing cancer is to make the most out of every day. I learned that doing more activities with my brother helped him not think about his cancer as much. I was fortunate to be in elementary school at the same time as Christian, so at school I would try to hang out with him as much as possible.
I would tell my teachers that I was sick, but in reality, I’d just be going to the nurse’s office to hang out with my brother. Luckily for Christian, he had a ton of really nice friends that were willing to sit with him during recess when he couldn’t keep up and play with them. I always tried to keep an eye on him when our schedules lined up, even while I was with my friends, just to make sure he was occupied.
I learned to let my brother just be a kid and not give him too much attention to the point of overwhelming him, while still trying to keep his mind off his cancer as much as possible.
My experiences have made me realize that you can’t take anything for granted and that you have to live life to its maximum potential every day. I learned that it’s important not to dwell on negative things. It’s important to move on and look at the positives in life and to keep your family and friends close to you – you have to cherish the moments together while you can.
Vs. Cancer resonated with my family because they’re raising money for a form of cancer that is both unfair and underfunded. It’s unfair that children like my brother don’t even get the opportunity to grow up like a normal kid, become an adult and live out their full life – all because there hasn’t been enough awareness and funding for pediatric brain tumor research. My dad and my sister were excited to help me fundraise as well.
I hope that more teams will partner with Vs. Cancer to help cure a disease that will give children an opportunity to grow up like a normal kid, rather than bouncing in and out of the hospital.
I understand it can be difficult to get behind a charity that might not have directly impacted you or your family, but I try and inspire people to think about how many children’s lives you might save just by asking one extra person to give even one more dollar.
I encourage people to think about how unfair it is for a child to be diagnosed with something they can’t control and then possibly only have a few years to live, while still only being so young.
To me, Vs. Cancer helps children get a second chance at life. The kids don’t deserve to live their lives in and out of the hospital as much as my brother did, when they should be running around and playing outside with their friends, without anything to worry about in the world.
By making a donation, you are helping cure a form of cancer that gives the 13 kids diagnosed per day a childhood and the full life they deserve.
Interested in getting your team involved with Vs. Cancer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 980-925-7557. Vs. Cancer empowers any sports team, any athlete and any community to help kids with cancer. As a signature fundraising campaign of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, proceeds help fund child life programs in local hospitals and lifesaving pediatric brain tumor research.