Thoughts on Cancer and Magic Johnson

I’m not a Magic Johnson fan, but that doesn’t really matter. I am, however, a huge fan of biographies. You can put a book or documentary about almost anyone in front of me and I’m hooked. I love to learn about people’s stories. Therefore, when a documentary about Magic Johnson was on our television one evening this summer I curled up in my chair with my popcorn and watched.

I’m not here to tell you about basketball or the Lakers or any of that. Sure, there were great games and amazing statistics but it was actually something Johnson said near the end of the show that struck me.

The basketball legend was sharing about his journey with HIV. He was diagnosed at a time when many thought it would be a swift death sentence for both his basketball career and his very life. They were wrong. Johnson has lived with AIDS for 23 years and due to medical treatments he continues to lead a fairly normal life.

Johnson has been the face of HIV for almost a quarter of a century but he said that’s been both good and bad.

The good has been the level of awareness and education that many have received due to such a public figure being diagnosed.

The bad is that he’s alive and well.

The bad may seem good, and it most definitely is, but he was saying that in the fight to raise awareness and fund for HIV/AIDS many look to him and think, “He’s fine! He’s healthy! He’s had AIDS forever and still looks good. What’s the big deal?”

It’s a double-edged sword.

I can relate (though I’m quite certain this is the only way I can relate to Magic Johnson!)

k1 half kickOur son, Karson, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just two years old. It was a possible death sentence for him. We didn’t know how his little body would respond to the treatment or if the cancer would take his life. However, we are SO thankful that Karson is not only alive, he’s healthy and thriving. He’s now almost 10 years old and has been done with his rigorous 3 ½ years of chemo for more than 4 years. The dark valley of that time is behind us.

If you look at Karson you’d never know he’d once been a bald, puffy, weak and very sick little toddler. You’d never know he went through years of chemotherapy, 22 spinal taps, 2 bone marrow biopsies, 3 years of steroids, and more blood transfusions and hospital stays than we can count. Instead, you see a tall and smiling 4th grader who pitched on his Little League team and just broke his arm being “all boy” while doing a cannonball off a swing in our backyard.

And when you see him as a leukemia survivor you may begin to think, “He’s fine! He’s healthy! He went through leukemia but look at him now. What’s the big deal?”

But it is a big deal.

Karson is alive and healthy. Karson is a leukemia survivor.

Not every story ends this way. Not everyone is healthy like Magic Johnson and Karson Cabe years after being diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. We don’t know why we are so blessed to have this outcome when others deal with death and sorrow, but we are grateful beyond words.

And while on this mountaintop we don’t want to waste what we learned in the valley.

And that’s why we continue to share his story and many statistics and facts. Like:

 

  • Cancer is the #1 disease-related causes of death for children.
  • Every day, 42 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • 12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.
  • Children’s cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups.
  • The average age of children diagnosed is six.
  • More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
  • 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
  • There are approximately 375,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States.

 

I can’t speak for Magic Johnson, nor do I wish to, but I hope that his success story and Karson’s will champion the cause for those who are sick with these awful diseases.

If nothing else, it sure makes for a great documentary.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Cancer and Magic Johnson

  1. Sarah Rickerd says:

    So thankful that Karson is cancer-free!! He should know that today Kenzie was gleefully recounting to her BSF friends the tale of his cannonball off of the swing. I thought she was kidding!! 🙂

  2. Deanna Albertson says:

    I love your heart, sweet Christy, and have been thankful for traveling through the ups and downs, the mountains and the valleys with you!! Thanks for your openness to give thanks to the One who brings you through!!! ((HUGS))
    BTW……GREEN???? I thought for sure Karson would have a COLTS colored cast!!! LOL

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