Several years ago I attended a funeral in my hometown. Watching one of my closest childhood friends grieve the loss of his seven year old son to cancer is not something I will ever forget. Dylan Earven, the sweet little boy that charmed his community, has a legacy that will forever live on in the small Arizona mining town. The Dylan Earven Foundation is continuing to share the joy Dylan brought to every moment of his life by raising awareness and making a positive impact on the community. No parent should have to endure the pain of losing a child to cancer. We can all make a difference and Stand Up To Cancer by pledging to dine out and pay with your MasterCard. Each time you spend $10 on dining out, MasterCard will make a donation to Stand Up to Cancer. The organization is a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. Together, we can all “dig in & do good” to make a difference.
Are you ready to stand up to cancer too? Everyone can make a difference and your participation matters. When you use your MasterCard card to pay for a meal $10 or more between July 12 and September 28, 2013, MasterCard will make a donation, one precious cent at a time, to Stand Up To Cancer up to $4,000,000.
Stand Up To Cancer awards grants to multi-institutional scientists who work collaboratively to develop new treatments quickly. The innovative research grants support groundbreaking cancer research that has the potential to significantly affect patient care. Since May 2008, Stand Up To Cancer has funded research to 500 scientists.
Showing your support and participating is easy. The MasterCard Stand Up To Cancer site allows you to easily book a table at a restaurant and invite friends.
Once the invitation has been created, friends will receive a notification from LinkedIn or Facebook to join you for dinner.
If you would rather make a donation, you can easily do that with the website’s “tweet to donate” button. Additionally, you can help create awareness about the Dig In & Do Good program by using the website’s social media sharing tools. If you have a favorite restaurant, be sure to nominate them so they can participate and let MasterCard make an additional donation on their behalf. Lets all make a difference together and stand up to cancer.
My parents live across the street from Dylan’s grandparents. Our families are close friends and being just a few years apart, Dylan’s father and I grew up together. Dylan’s parents, Donald and Angela, were elated by the birth of their healthy baby boy in 2003. Dylan was an energetic, silly, and happy child. At three years old he started complaining of headaches. His parents wanted to believe it was nothing more than an ear infection but in June of 2006 knew something was wrong. Dylan woke up with his head tilted to the left and after hearing nothing was wrong at the emergency room visit, Donald and Angela insisted a CT scan be done. That day they discovered Dylan had a mass on his brain. The tumor was successfully removed after a 10 hour surgery the following day. Donald and Angela then learned the tumor was cancerous and Dylan would have to undergo chemotherapy. With no guarantees, his family turned to their faith and were confident Dylan would again be the healthy little boy he was before. Dylan began chemotherapy shortly after his surgery. He underwent the treatment every couple of weeks for six months. The difficult treatment left Dylan having more bad days than good but by January of 2007 his MRI scans showed the cancer was gone. The miracle of having Dylan back to his normal self left friends and family euphoric.
Dylan and his dad, photo courtesy of The Dylan Earven Foundation
Just a few months later Dylan woke up not feeling well and told his parents “the buggies are back.” The doctors explained to his parents that you can’t feel cancer and there was no way Dylan would be able to determine the cancer had returned. But Dylan was right, the cancer had returned. The cancer had spread to his spine and the best option for treatment would be another long surgery to remove most of the tumor and then undergo intense chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. Believing this was the best option for treatment for their son, Dylan’s parents followed the suggestions of the doctors and started the treatment plan. The intense treatment had a short list of long term effects when compared to completely ridding Dylan’s body of cancer. Permanent hair loss and a loss of IQ seemed like small sacrifices. Over the next year, Dylan’s body went through extreme changes as he conquered each step of his recovery. It seemed all the bad cells were destroyed and his parents could finally focus on making him strong and healthy again.
The hours spent driving to and from the hospital for treatments turned into opportunities for Dylan to point out all the beauty he saw in the world. He noticed things that others didn’t. He wanted to stop and pick flowers and look at the beautiful sun shining. Dylan’s enthusiasm for life and ability to share his smile when so many hearts were aching for him changed everyone he encountered.
Dylan and his mom, photo courtesy of The Dylan Earven Foundation
Toward the end of 2008, there were only a few reminders of Dylan’s cancer including his bald head. Dylan was feeling good and wanted to go to school. He started school in August of 2008 and was able to attend for several months before learning he was suffering from radiation neucrosis as a result of the intense treatment he had received to rid his little body of cancer.
photo courtesy of The Dylan Earven Foundation
In early 2009 Dylan had a stroke and then went on to undergo therapy in a hyperbaric chamber. After a hospital stay with pneumonia and many more treatments including blood transfusions several times weekly, Dylan’s parents decided they would not allow him to endure any additional pain in his battle with cancer.
photo courtesy of The Dylan Earven Foundation
Dylan passed away in his parents arms at home July 30, 2010 just months after he celebrated his seventh birthday.
Dylan was so much more than just a little boy that loved Mickey Mouse and Nascar. Through many fundraising efforts for treatment and outreach from his local community, Dylan’s story touched so many lives. He was loved by everyone that knew him or simply heard his story. He was made an honorary member of the fire department and was lead bike leader of the centennial parade. Dylan’s constant smile and love for life continues to remind us of all of the beauty we simply take for granted. As a parent myself, Dylan taught me to enjoy every moment with my daughter and to always notice the small things. When we stop to pick flowers, the thought of Dylan smiling will always cross my mind.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dylan’s mother, Angela. She told me memories of Dylan, both happy and sad, are part of every day for her and Donald. Together through the Dylan Earven Foundation they plan to make the gold childhood cancer ribbon recognizable.
The Dylan Earven Foundation was organized last year. Their mission is to provide financial support to the families of the community afflicted with childhood cancer and other life threatening diseases. No parent should have to endure the pain of losing a child to cancer. Donald and Angela are honoring Dylan’s name and carry on the fight he started with cancer.
To see how easy it is to participate in the Dig In & Do Good program, view my The Dylan Earven Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer with MasterCard #DoGood #MC Google+ album. Learn more about MasterCard by connecting with them on Facebook and Twitter.
100% of my compensation as part of a social shopper insights program for Collective Bias and their client will be donated to the Dylan Earven Foundation.