by Liana Wong
In May 2007, our son Max was diagnosed with a rare diagnosis of B-cell Lymphoma. We started to raise money immediately for cancer research, specifically directing monies to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to underwrite a cell therapy lab.
In less than six months, we raised more than $200,000. We quickly learned the reality that pediatric cancer research is under funded and needed our support.
What obstacles did you face when you started the foundation?
We needed to educate ourselves on the cause and have a plan. It is common to want to do a lot in a short period of time.
We were fortunate to have success early on, but needed to maintain focus and not stray from our mission. Ideas are constantly flowing and we need to always do what is best for The Max Cure Foundation and our mission.
What were your initial thoughts when your son was diagnosed with cancer?
It was the worst day of my life. I felt like my soul was ripped from my body and smashed to the ground.
How did you handle communicating the diagnosis with your other children?
At the time, we only had Alexander who was 2 years old. We were honest from day one about Max’s cancer to Alexander and to Max. We called it a “boo boo that was very dangerous”.
I felt blessed that God gave us the opportunity to find the cancer and to get Max immediate treatment. The diagnosis was stage 4 but there was hope for a cure with Max. I was not going to let any negativity into our lives to change our focus and mission at hand.
What top advice would you give to others in a similar situation with their family?
Take it day by day and keep the stress and negativity to a minimum. Part of the healing process is a nurturing home. It is easy to lose control. The last thing you want is a child to feel that the cancer is his/her fault.
What top advice would you give on how to keep the marriage solid throughout it all?
Good question. I am not sure that I have the answer for that one. LOL Our marriage definitely had its challenges. We still have our challenges but when you have a child that is fighting for their life, it is important to be selfless and remain a team no matter how difficult the situation. It is not about you, it is about the child.
I try to be there for my children and participate as much as I can in their lives. I am far from perfect and I am definitely working on the “balance” part. It is not easy running a foundation, which could easily employ twenty or more people if we could afford it. We have so much going on all the time and I find myself wearing many hats, which is tough to do. I am grateful for the small team we do have because they keep me in check and look forward to the future.
Pediatric Cancer Facts:
- 13,500 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year
- 3,300 children die each year in the United States from cancer within five years of diagnosis
- Cancer kills more children than any other disease
- Those children that survive five years have a ten times greater mortality rate
- Research to find cures for pediatric cancers is the most under funded of all cancers and relies heavily on foundations such as The Max Cure Foundation for support.