It’s hard to read the Facebook posts from Cannon Wiggins’ family. Because the 2-year-old Orlando boy is battling neuroblastoma, and his parents are sharing that battle in all its ugly details. They hope awareness (“this is what childhood cancer looks like”) and photos of their precious son bleeding from his nose and looking pale, bald and sickly in a hospital bed will encourage readers to “take action so that more kids don’t have to go through what Cannon and others do daily.”
Under the slogan “Cannonball Kids Cancer,” Melissa and Michael Wiggins are detailing Cannon’s story — and pushing for more funding for pediatric cancer research as well as blood donations that help keep cancer patients alive during treatment.
It sounds almost cheery when they write they will “cannonball this cancer out and be cancer free.” But they share a sobering message — that less than 4 percent of the U.S. government’s cancer funding goes to pediatric cancer research, that the average age of death for a pediatric cancer patient is 8, that every day 4 kids die of cancer and 36 are diagnosed.
A short film released last week features the late Talia Castellano (the 13-year-old Oviedo girl who died in July after a six-year battle with cancer) and pushes the same message, arguing that pediatric cancer research needs to become a “national priority.”
Cannon was diagnosed in April with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the nerve cells that typically strikes children younger than 5. He was diagnosed four months short of his second birthday and just days before his mother gave birth to his twin brothers, according to his family’s Facebook page.
He is now in a hospital in Philadelphia after undergoing a stem cell transplant. The toddler has also endured rounds of chemotherapy and surgery. It’s more than any little boy should face, and a heartbreaking plight for any parent.
Cannon’s story has prompted local fund-raising efforts and blood drives, including one at Bishop Moore Catholic High, where his older sister is a student.
His mother wrote recently that a video of Cannon in the hospital “sparked some controversy” because it was so painful to watch.
It is, she wrote, and it was painful to shoot and post.
But, she added, ” If this short video sparked some controversy and made people say ‘ enough ….what can I do’ then I’m fulfilling my role as a mother whose child is fighting every second of his life to beat cancer and he is only 2. He is one of thousands! It’s not right and it must change! It can! I pray it will! I will fight till day I die that it does!!!!”