No one has an explanation for the loss of a child … or at least no one should. The kind of pain the Carr family is experiencing right now as they grieve the loss of five-year-old Chad is one that no family should have to experience.
The very sad truth, however, is that cancer is the second-leading cause of death in children (after accidents) and that approximately 1,250 children under the age of 15 will die from cancer this year. That is too many … especially when the funding for childhood cancer research is just four percent of the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute’s annual budget.
After learning of Chad’s death earlier today, I have cried. I have read through the countless messages of love and support from people who have never even met the Carr family, drumming up tears over and over again.
I consider it a privilege to have met them through helping with one of Chad’s fundraising events in early October. It was then that I met Tammi Carr, Chad’s mom, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been more impressed by another human being. This is someone who – along with her family – has experienced hell on earth, but she was gracious and genuine to me, even inviting me and my family to attend her church.
Their incredible spirit is why countless people are grieving over the loss of Chad tonight. Some knew him, and some didn’t, but everyone felt the love of this family.
Standing By Faith
No one should ever tell a grieving family that “it was God’s plan,” or “everything happens for a reason,” or “he’s in a better place.” Sometimes things just hurt. Sometimes things are not fair. Sometimes things are past understanding.
To hear Tammi Carr speak with such insurmountable faith shows the kind of strength only heroes have. Yes, they wanted their son to be healed, and they did everything they could to make that happen, but they also spoke with realism.
When it looked like Chad was progressing toward his angel wings, they prayed for peace for their little man. They never stopped believing in the goodness of their God, and they never stopped sharing their story, which is a testament to what real love looks like.
The Carr family may have felt like shutting down over the inevitable loss of their precious child, but instead they continued to share. It was a selfless act that brings attention to a major problem within the medical community: ignoring childhood cancer.
These are people who, upon learning their son had an inoperable brain tumor, also learned that the medical community had been doing virtually nothing to progress treatment for pediatric cancer for the past 40 years. Imagine the anger you would feel if it were your son or daughter. It would be like hearing that your precious baby doesn’t matter.
Progressing Toward A Purpose
That is why the conversation can’t end here. In fact, it is just beginning. Chad’s legacy will be that he brought much-needed attention to pediatric cancer research, saving the lives of children who aren’t even born yet. Saving the parents of those children the pain and agony of hearing that their baby is undergoing treatment better suited for an adult.
“Zero dollars from the federal government has been given towards this disease,” said Tammi Carr in September on the Mitch Albom Show of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. “The only money that has been raised has been raised from families like ours who have been through this and are trying to make a difference.
“Now we’re in that position, unfortunately, but we’re not going to just let it go. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we can make a difference.”
I have no doubt the Carr family will work just as hard now as they did when Chad was first diagnosed to raise funds toward treatment of DIPG and all pediatric cancers. These babies are taking on way too much and are gone way too soon for the medical community to ignore this issue.
What Can You Do?
Tammi, Jason, CJ, Tommy, and the rest of the Carr family welcoming the world into their journey with Chad will save lives, because they aren’t going to stop. They aren’t going to stop bringing attention to this issue of ignoring pediatric cancer research.
Just as you shouldn’t stop lending support to someone who has lost a loved one after the initial shock has faded, you shouldn’t stop supporting the ChadTough Foundation just because Chad has gone to be with God. Chad’s family is going to do everything they can to change the way pediatric cancer is supported and you can help through supporting the ChadTough Foundation.
You can donate to the ChadTough Foundation or wait for the next opportunity to come out of the Carr camp. I can guarantee it will be coming and it will be incredible, because these people are dedicated to changing the world in the name of their baby.
“We’re going to make a difference,” Tammi told Albom. “That’s what we’re committed to – the entire family – and we’re going to make that Chad’s legacy.”