Kathleen’s Desk

My heart broke on Valentine’s Day

by Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 15, 2013

Justin’s cancer is back for the 6th time.

For those of you who haven’t met Justin Miller yet, you’re missing out. He’s our friend, Ambassador, and all around inspiration, and he’s only 9 years old. Justin has been fighting cancer for 2/3 of his life. He doesn’t remember life without cancer.

Sickeningly, I’ve pondered what that must be like…I definitely wouldn’t be as strong as Justin, nor would my faith be. When Justin learned of his latest relapse, Justin told his Mom, “The cancer won’t win as long as I have the three goods.” She asked him what the three goods were and he replied:

“Good friends, good family and good Legos. As long as I have all of those, the cancer won’t wear me down, the cancer won’t win!”

If we all had the faith of this child, what would we do to protect it? Justin has a beautiful, loving, devoted family and an abundance of Legos, but he does need more friends who are willing to fight for him. Inside this wonderful boy lives a beast that is growing more powerful. We must keep finding new ways to fight it.

A few months ago while I was having dinner with his family, Justin, unprompted, came around the table and put his arms around my neck, kissed my cheek and said, “Kathleen, please thank everyone in St. Baldrick’s for helping me be alive.” I’ll never forget that moment.

Every day since that day, I’ve asked what I would do if Justin were my son, and the only answer I have is Winston Churchill’s advice: “Never, never, never give up.” So, I will keep working to engage caring individuals, companies and organizations to make Justin’s cure their mission.

Justin isn’t giving up. He’s still building his dreams with Legos and sees a world where kids like him won’t be breaking hearts – at least not for this reason…

We all know this construction project needs more workers, heavy equipment and resources. If you’ve not yet found your niche in the childhood cancer community, please do so today. There are many wonderful organizations working to give kids like Justin a healthy future.

What will you do for Justin?


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