On February 18, 2007, a courageous young man passed from
this earth without great fanfare. He left a horrible sadness but also immense inspiration to all those who knew him. This
young man was a hero. And even as months have passed since his death, his heroic story of spirit and courage has not been
I know this young man’s story
only too well because I lived it beside him, as his father and caregiver, as he, for the last two and a half years of his
life, battled rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Inspiration, sadness and hope, courage and love are all a part of
the story of Patrick Brannon; a story important to me because of my unending love for my son.
This book describes the fearless character
of an eleven year old kid who when diagnosed with cancer fought this deadly disease with more spirit, confidence and inspiration
than any army that ever went to war, right up until the day before his 14th birthday when he passed in his sleep
after insisting that his dad play one final board game before he lay down to rest.
This book exposes the horror kids with cancer face every day
One of the main reasons I wrote the story of Patrick Brannon is because it is the story of thousands of other
children in America who face the horror of childhood cancer every year. For the sake of those thousands of courageous children
who die of pediatric cancer and those who survive, it is a story that I fight back tears to tell, but we all should find a
way to hear. It is a story that must not remain untold.
Another compelling reason for this book is the desire to lead an effort to renew the war against pediatric cancer,
so that this disease will not rob another child of his life, nor another father of the heart of his life as well.
Indeed, this is a story about a father who sought to cope
with his son’s illness and how the grieving process was aided by a whole community, which among other things came together
to remember my son by the naming of a dog park after him in recognition of his love for dogs and all animals.
My hope is that this book will shed a greater awareness of
the pain and horror that kids with cancer suffer each day as they fight for their life, at an age when their biggest worries
should be such things as bicycles and basketball, rather than blood counts and bed pans.
So many of the children who have suffered the dreadful journey that cancer brings,
only to endure the fate which my son suffered, have not been so generously remembered.
It is a primary goal of this book that these children who have died of cancer be
given a more proper recognition for what they suffered in their battles with cancer, for the legacies which they left to their
families and for the dreams and aspirations which these young heroes held in their hearts but were not permitted to live long
enough to see them through.
Each year in the
United States some 2300 children die of pediatric cancer. They didn’t volunteer to risk their lives and were too young
to do so. These kids have not only died but have suffered immense pain.
In today’s world of multimedia and around the clock news coverage, we thankfully are blessed to have such innovations
as “Amber Alerts,” to help save a child from imminent danger when abducted.
This book proposes a 'Goose Alert' to begin a national
commitment to end childhood cancer within the next decade
Our nation’s cable news networks feature a revolving “ticker” that repeats the breaking news of
the day many times over, even including such things as: this is the 125th day of the year.
Is it too much to ask of our cable news broadcasters to carry on their ticker what
I would call a “Goose Alert” and in two sentences mention the name of a child that has died of cancer together
with that child’s dream.
If everyone saw
what I’ve seen of childhood cancer, firsthand; if everyone spent three hours, not three years, at a children’s
hospital watching a child suffer with cancer; if daily we were reminded of each child that has died and that child’s
dream to live; if we did those things, it is my belief that we would end childhood cancer within the next decade.
I am a lawyer by profession and a newspaper man, by blood.
If my gentle readers find shortcomings in my literary effort it may prove that I am not the best author of books. And I am
well aware that I am no John F. Kennedy. But I sincerely believe that if we choose to end childhood cancer within
the next decade, just as JFK chose to take man to the moon 47 years ago, we will do it.
It is my hope that this book will send us all a “Goose Alert” and help
make that dream a reality.