I have copied and pasted below the entire transcript of Donal's letter he wrote in the summer of 2011, this letter was forwarded to me by the LIVESTRONG foundation, as at the time I was their volunteer representative in Ireland. To say I was blown away by the eloquence and passion of this young mans words is an understatement.
I can truly say that this was the moment, after reading his letter that I became a lot more engaged in the cancer community and began to educate myself in becoming an advocate. I also started to become a lot more involved in my work with LIVESTRONG.
I was also incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to exchange messages and hear the thoughts of this exceptional young man over the next year or so. I did not speak with Donal as much during the last few months, and I found myself today having the opportunity to learn so much more about what he had been involved with before we lost him yesterday. Again I found myself today blown away by the words this young man was able to express, and in so doing reach out and touch others.
So many of us are trying to climb our own mountains in life but I have truly never heard it expressed in the way Donal did in a piece I read by him earlier today. We lost not only a beautiful soul and advocate but a gifted writer as well.
I think for all of us involved in both the LIVESTRONG community and the wider cancer community, we can see that Donals letter below really sums up our work and the mission we are all trying to carry out - to improve the treatment and quality of life for all cancer survivors and their families.
I will let his words speak now....
Dear Mrs. President
I'm Donal Walsh, an Irish fifteen year old, who survived cancer when I was twelve. I need you to listen to what I have to say about fighting cancer.
When someone hears they have cancer their life changes, everything they do has to stop or evolve in some way in order to cope with this disease that threatens their very existence. In my case; I couldn't go to school, I couldn't go to public places, I couldn't eat, I can't play field sports and I'll never be able to run again. People stared at me like I was a goldfish. All of this was bad enough but I still needed chemo for a year, I still needed seven operations and a prosthetic knee and thigh bone.
There are people out there who go through a lot worse than what I did. People get diagnosed and can't afford treatment in some countries, people get diagnosed and have no support from family or friends and mothers and fathers have to watch their children suffer and in some cases pass away. In places like LIVESTRONG they work so hard day in and day out to help these people cope with cancer, they work at making people aware of cancer and they help people fight cancer.
At the U.N, summit for Non-Communicable Diseases in New York in September, you can help people afford their treatment, you can save mothers and fathers the pain of watching their children suffer and die and you can save people the pain of chemo and the mental burden brought with the disease. If you make cancer a Global Priority you will be changing the world for the better.
In 2001 AIDs was made a global priority and incidences of the disease decreased and life expectancy increased. Imagine if this was cancer, you could make the 36 million people and their families who have to live with this disease smile. Just like when they are diagnosed their lives could change. But this time for the better. If you changed 36 million lives you would have changed the world.
Please contact me as soon as possible, I would love to meet with you or U.N. representatives who can help me and the people at LIVESTRONG achieve our goal and overcome this crisis of cancer. So many people don't care, they don't care about the hundreds of millions of people who have been affected by this, they don't care about changing the world and this is wrong. I Have e-mailed the Taoiseach and the Irish permanent embassdor to the U.N. Ms. Anderson and they have said they would take it under consideration. Please don't do the same, please do something about it. Don't ignore me like so many others have.
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