Since this is a volunteer appreciation event- let me first say thank you so much to anybody in this room that has given their time and effort to this Hospital and to this Cancer Center- you have all touched me personally more than I could ever give back.
Another round of applause for Dr. Gold…
And the only reason I’m doing this Dr. Gold is to get back at you for all of the awkward moments you’ve given to me in the past 4 years.
So- while I am harping on you…
I think the biggest tribute to Dr. Gold is hearing other children’s reactions to when I bring his name up. I’ve had the privilege of meeting dozens of fellow childhood cancer patients through my college career, and there has been one constant in every relationship: I bring up Dr. Gold, they smile. I’ve heard countless stories of water gun fights, Christmas deliveries, marshmallow guns, and the uncanny ability to relate to an 18-year-old in the same way as a 3-year-old.
I’ll always remember the day I was given the news that I had cancer- Dr. Gold, in his true self, met with my family on a Sunday afternoon in the old Gravely building. It was completely deserted, everybody else was at home enjoying time off or napping or watching football. Dr. Gold was beside me, giving up his time to a young man clueless and anxious. But he was with me. Every step of the way. I’ve thanked him before, I’ll thank him again, but truly, the man I am today is representative of the selfless and noble character that Stuart Gold gives every day to the patients of this Hospital.
My name is Chase Jones, I am a senior at this blessed University, and can proudly say, rather, very proudly say, that the reason I am standing in front of you today is because of the people in this room.
To give you a little of my back story- As a fresh 18 yr old college freshman, I started having headaches that I had never experienced before- my mom thought it was text anxiety, the campus health people thought they were due to food poisoning, I thought it was just a bump in the road. It turned out to be a little more than a bump- 6 weeks after enrolling in my first class at UNC I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
In part to my faith, my family, and possibly the most important facet- the very people in this room- cancer was the biggest blessing I have ever received in my entire life. At no point can I look back at my sickness and not help but smile, all due in part to this Hospital and everybody involved within it. You can call me an idiot for loving the fact that I got the chance to go through chemo and radiation, but at the end of the day, I would never change anything. And that is solely based off of this place and these people.
Looking back, the toughest part about my treatment was not within the medicine, the hair loss, the feelings of doubt and remorse. It was not in chemotherapy and the nausea and vomiting. It wasn’t the radiation, and my loss of whatever physical shape I once had.
The toughest part of my battle with cancer was knowing that there was younger children fighting the same fight as me in the next room over. It was trying to wrap my head around how a kid could grow up in a hospital, tied down with test tubes and hanging bags of medicine, but still could manage a smile and offer encouragement.
No child deserves cancer. I think we can all agree on that. What every child does deserve, however, is the warmth and hope that only a volunteer can provide.
I’ve already talked about all of the negative things I’ve witnessed with this disease, but they do not compare to the beautiful and positive impacts that I have seen ever since.
It was the chance to take 35 UNC Baseball players and see them rally around the idea of shaving their heads, in order to raise funds for this facility right here. It was the opportunity to win Homecoming King of UNC under the banner of giving back to childhood cancer, and watch a college campus gather around this notion of giving back to these kids at Lineberger. It has been every smile in the face of a child seeing our mascot, Ramses, poke his head in their room or me losing a game of air hockey in the pediatric play room and hearing the shrieks of excitement, with kids temporarily forgetting about the unfairness of what they are going through.
John F. Kennedy once wrote the following: "You have responsibilities in short to use your talents for the benefit of the society which helped develop those talents."
This is the ideal thought; we as volunteers have the responsibility to help this place, if for nothing else, because of the fact that we can.
I am fortunate as I have been able to witness both sides of this great passion of volunteering, and I will continue to pursue the chance to make one kid’s day, because 4 years ago, the people in this room dropped their everyday lives, and, without hesitance, cared for me. And that was all it took- knowing that somebody else cared got me through it.
Now, whenever I am asked if I have beaten cancer, I am always hesitant, and struggle with simply stating ‘I beat cancer.’
In reality, ‘WE beat cancer.’
Thank you for allowing me to say that.