Back to School: Kids With Cancer Have an Uphill Climb

by Audra DiPadova Wilford
September 16, 2013

Max, better known as SuperMax, is 7 years old and fighting a brain tumor. His mom, Audra, explains why awareness AND action are so important for children with cancer. Learn more about a quick and easy way you can take action to help kids like Max.


SuperMax on his first day of first grade.

SuperMax started first grade this month. His school is up in the foothills. We have to drive to get there. We parked and walked up a number of hills, already overheating at 8:15 a.m.

Max teetered under the weight of his backpack. I relieved him of the task, replacing the backpack with his lunch bag. He walked slowly, losing balance here and there, grasping hard onto my hand.

I’m reminded that this uphill climb is and will be his life, for whatever time we have, however long we have.

Max is a childhood cancer survivor. He faces a lifetime of resulting challenges, and the persistence of recurrence. He faces every day with joy and enthusiasm, regardless of cancer. But for Max and 3 of 5 children diagnosed with pediatric cancer, the mountain of survivorship is arduous and often relentless.

Max was thrilled to see friends today and to head to Aldersgate, his home away from home after school. He’s surrounded by love. But many of my friends today are painfully reminded of what grade their baby should be starting, what he would be wearing, and what sport she would be playing.

As we’re all headed into these new and wonderful chapters of our children’s lives, please remember that so many kids are headed to school against the odds, overcoming tremendous adversity to get there. Remember our Mommas who face every day, their babies taken from them, unable to bear witness to the rites of passage and trivial PTA dramas. We have our kiddos; we are fortunate.

Taking it a step forward, it’s in our power to do more to Conquer Childhood Cancers, so let’s get to it. Each and every one of us has the power to open eyes, raise awareness, and take action. Awareness is the essential precursor to action.

If you’re a parent, here’s a quick and easy way for you and your kids to raise awareness AND raise money for childhood cancer research. Just smile and say #YouAreMyHero!

Take a selfie and help kids with cancer



Audra DiPadova Wilford is cofounder of MaxLove Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing families fighting childhood cancers and life-threatening conditions with accessible, practical, and kid-friendly whole-body wellness.