March 9th is a day of mourning and grief for The Max Foundation and for anyone who knows our story and loves the Organization. On March 9th 1991, 30 years ago, cancer took Max from us at MD Anderson Cancer Center at 11:10 am. For those lucky to have known him, Max will forever be the kind and happy teenager who loved to sing in the shower, play tennis, ski, hang out with friends, and who was a loyal and wonderfully sweet and caring child.
No one’s life should be cut short at the age of 17; no parent should have to lose their son to a cruel disease such as cancer. Looking back at Max’s cancer journey I realize he had no chance; no good attitude, no visualization or meditation, no access to experts and treatments available, nothing was enough. The disease, chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), was mean and powerful in 1991 and he – we – were no match.
But 30 years have passed and better treatments exist today for CML and other types of cancer. If Max would have been diagnosed this year, one could expect that he would live for 30 years or more, as long, that is, as he was able to access the innovative and life-saving treatments of today. However, there are deep health disparities in the world and many of those diagnosed with cancer will lose their battle, not because there are no treatments, but because they don’t have access to these treatments.
For The Max Foundation, making sure every patient diagnosed with CML or other treatable forms of cancer can access the best treatment, care and support, is in our blood. We do it for Max and we do it with Max who is always with us. Because we know the common humanity of pain for our loved ones, and because to the extent that we can take away the pain, we should. For Max and for every person who lost their unfair battle with cancer we will continue to strive to eradicate inequities in cancer survival. We will do our best, work as hard as we can to ensure we do not leave anyone behind.
With the support of deeply committed donor partners, the most committed leading hematology and oncology physician partners, and smart and capable distribution partners, we will continue to prevent the unnecessary premature deaths of those least privileged around the world. Because where you live should not decide if you live.