Son’s perseverance wins out
By Ann Mulvey
Propelled by his feet, the desk chair twirled around stopping long enough to communicate. The pilot looked like a typical teenager, living a typical teenagers life. Closer examination reveals the contrary as along with his brother and two sisters, this 15-year-old has been prematurely dropped into the adult world due to his father’s second battle with cancer. As a result Clinton MacLeod, a sophomore in Blaine high school, hasn’t lived a typical life in the two years since his dad, Brian was first diagnosed with colon cancer. From the emotional momentum associated with this unpredictable disease, Clinton has moved he and his family forward using an attitude and approach that are equally unpredictable.
Upon learning that his dad had wanted to attend an upcoming east coast cancer conference but had missed the scholarship deadline, Clinton took matters into his own hands. “I knew my Dad had wanted to go to the colorectal cancer conference in New York but the deadline to apply for scholarships had passed, so I decided to write a letter to the organizer to ask for an exception to the scholarship rule.” He felt good about sending the email, but his expectations regarding the outcome were low. “So many times there was nothing I could do,” he said. “This time I thought it never hurts to ask. Still, I didn’t think there was a chance that my dad would get to go.”
In spite of Clinton feeling uncertain about the effectiveness of his email request, the recipient was impressed. Amy Kelly, co-founder and program director of the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) responded immediately stating that the alliance had decided to award a scholarship for travel and accommodation to his dad, and to Clinton. Describing her reaction to receiving Clinton’s email, Ms. Kelly spoke of its impact on her and her associates. “Not only were we touched to know that a 15-year-old young man would think so much of his father to apply, but his words spoke volumes about his character. Through his email we could see his deep love for his father and how much their family has struggled during his battle with colorectal cancer. Despite those struggles, we also saw someone with hope.” She said. Ms. Kelly continued by commenting on how Clinton closed the correspondence. “Clinton even signed his email, ‘A son with hope’.” Finding HOPE (Healing, Options, Peer Support and Education) is the theme of CCA's 5th Annual Colorectal Cancer Conference so my staff and I felt it was important to bring this young man and his dad to the conference to share his hope with the others who will attend, many of whom are looking for their own hope.”
Thrilled with the news of the scholarship, Clinton anticipates the benefits of his dad attending. “My dad can hear doctors give their opinions on radiation and surgery treatments and it will help him to have more hope by meeting other survivors. He’ll see that he’s not alone in fighting for his life. Learning more helps.” Ms. Kelly agreed. “CCA puts these conferences on to offer support and information to people like the MacLeod’s struggling with this disease.” Clinton and his family are not the sole beneficiaries of the email request. Commenting on the opportunity for her and her staff to learn and be gratified by the importance of their work, Ms. Kelly responded. “Thank you Clinton for touching my heart and pushing us all here who are burning the midnight oil to prepare for the conference to keep on doing so! And thank you for the hope!”
As a child of a cancer survivor, Clinton has also been the recipient of life’s lessons. “I grew up quicker and stopped taking things for granted. I also learned not to worry about something you can't fix but to do everything you can to help. Don’t worry about small things.” Familiar yet always exceptional is the wisdom this young man had grasped through his father’s ongoing cancer battle, evident in Clinton’s communication to Ms. Kelly. “I have met many heroes through these events. I wonder if this young man knows he is one of them.” Unlikely according to Clinton. “A hero? No... I’m not a hero.”
With special status shed, the desk chair is again propelled into another round. Unlike previous spins the pilot’s feet stop the motion mid-cycle. With an impish look so characteristic of a typical teen Clinton’s face explodes into a smile, fit for a hero.
For more information on this preventable disease contact the Colon Cancer Alliance toll free at 877/422-2030 or go to the CCA Website at www.ccalliance.org.