There’s scarcely anything more obscene than cancer. It’s indiscriminate in its brutality. It affects young and old alike. It crosses racial barriers and cares nothing about gender. Of course, there are those who have a predisposition. Certain variants can run in families, and lifestyle plays a part, but many relatively healthy people suffer the wrath as do those with no genetic history. Cancer is a scourge, and its ability to strike at will is its most frightening characteristic. That and what it does to children.
It is indiscriminate. That’s already been said. But I think I can also safely say that as with anything terrible, there’s a greater pause and reflection from a society when the tragedy befalls the young. The innocent. When cancer cuts down a child, that just hurts like pretty much nothing else I can imagine.
I was thinking about St. Jude on Monday. That’s nothing rare or exceptional. The children’s research hospital is at the top of most everyone’s thoughts this week as Minden begins the annual St. Jude Auction. Our community has raised millions over the years for cancer research, and we will raise millions more in the years to come. The event has garnered global attention. No other community does what Minden does. Per capita, that’s the truth.
And why wouldn’t we? Minden and all of Webster have felt the never-ending sting of losing the innocent to the teeth of this Monster.
So, thinking of St. Jude makes sense this time of year, and those thoughts took me back to my very first days in this town. Back when I met Coleson Shaw.
He was born in 2001 with a rare form of anemia and would fight every day of his life. Cancer took him at just 17.
I remember meeting him that very first time. He was a year old, maybe less. I wrote a feature of him and his family and the struggles they were going through just to keep him alive. His hair was a beautiful gold, and his smile was precious. He played on the spring grass of his family’s backyard and as he rolled around, I was able to snap a picture of him that captured all the energy and innocence of a boy his age. The smile remained even though his little body was fighting in ways mine never had. He was just a boy, and the Sun was warm, and he felt a momma’s love and that was enough. Illnesses be damned.
His struggles didn’t stop as he aged. A bone marrow transplant helped, and he went on to lead as normal a life as anyone could while fighting his fight.
He played basketball and he took martial arts with Clyde Stanley. He learned about mathematics and history and literature and science. He learned about all the things that make life begin and keep life going and then those that make life worth living. He loved and he was loved.
Cancer came at 16 and took him at 17. He died on a Wednesday.
Coleson wasn’t a toddler when the Grim came. He made it longer than some who are struck by this obscene disease. But his passing was no less tragic. Cut down in the prime of life. Nothing but tears and memories for those left behind.
The St. Jude Auction begins this week. Minden will raise another million dollars for cancer research. Lives will be saved with that money. Your money. Lives will be saved with the money you give. Lives of blonde-haired little boys. Lives of little girls and boys. Black and white. That money will go on to benefit all ages.
There’s nothing more noble than the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the charge this community has placed on itself.
Donate. Help in the fight. No playing defense. Offense. Offense. Offense. There are many things to pray for. We’ve all got our needs and we share them with the Father with regularity. I’m in no position to say one prayer is more important than another. But I think it is safe to say that we all want to put an end to cancer.
There’s only one way to do it. Keep donating. Keep supporting St. Jude and keep supporting this auction.
No one should have to bury their child.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognize
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