It was supposed to be the most magical night of Kevin McGuire's young life! He had a date to the Country Music Awards, and her name was Taylor Swift. But (surprise, surprise) it turns out even country music superstars are no match for childhood cancer. Taylor was in Vegas, but he was stuck home in New Jersey.
McGuire is the teenager whose story sparked a Facebook petition to convince Swift to attend his prom, and he seemed to have it made in the shade last month when he got the better offer of being her date to the CMAs. Almost made you forget that he got the dream date because he was suffering from a disease that strikes thousands of kids every year, didn't it? Getting kids' cancer into the news with stories like Kevin's planned trip to meet Taylor is good for the cause. But they're not the reality.
Parenting a kid with cancer is much less glamour, more dealing with a rough week of chemotherapy, low blood counts, and a 103-degree fever -- the very stuff that kept Kevin home in New Jersey. It's the reality of cancer that meant Kevin watched her accept entertainer of the year from inside a New Jersey restaurant instead of sitting beside her when the news was announced. It's a harsh reality that at 18, Kevin is on his second battle with leukemia.
Oh, I know, I'm bringing down all the happy today and ruining your awards show buzz. I love a good celebrity story as much as the next mom. And Taylor certainly deserves kudos for trying. She even made sure to call him on the phone on her busy weekend to make up for the broken date.
It's just that I live in an area where there are a lot of kids with cancer. A lot. Every time I turn around, there's another fundraiser for this family or funeral for that child. And it gets to you. It was because of the death of too many of these kids in my community that I started shaving my head every year to fight childhood cancer with the St. Baldrick's Foundation (yes, if you've read anything I've written over the years, you've heard me beat that drum, and I'm going to KEEP beating it until we lick this thing).
I really wish I could say that everything was trumpets and roses and benevolent celebrities doing good deeds for these families. But being a teenager with cancer is a lot more doing your homework with an IV in your arm and trying not to miss too much of your favorite TV show because you were in the bathroom throwing up from the chemotherapy. Poor Kevin McGuire had a good reason for standing up Taylor Swift: reality.
What is the reality like for the kids you know who have suffered through cancer?
Image via 1035 WEZL/Flickr