Ladysmith became the supporting act in a video created for Megan McNeil’s song The Will To Survive in the summer of 2010, when residents and businesses came together to show their support in the fight against childhood cancer.
The familiar walls of In the Beantime Café and the familiar faces of members of the Ladysmith Volunteer Fire Department and RCMP Detachment can be recognized between scenes of McNeil and her cancer-fighting friends singing the song’s lyrics and photographs of children who have been lost to childhood cancer.
Ladysmith lost one of its own smallest members in October 2010 when Callum Brown died from a form of childhood cancer, neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma is responsible for eight to 10 per cent of all childhood cancers. Although it is only the fifth most common cancer in childhood, it is responsible for a disproportionate number of childhood deaths due to cancer.
Neuroblastoma usually occurs in children younger than five, and it is the most common tumour in babies younger than one year of age. Brown was diagnosed at four months old.
Each year throughout North America, several hundred children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Sixty per cent of children diagnosed over the age of one have widespread (metastatic) disease at diagnosis.
In the last 20 years, there has been modest improvement in the prognosis for children diagnosed at less than one year of age with neuroblastoma due to research; however, despite research initiatives, there has been little improvement in the prognosis for older children with widespread disease at diagnosis. The vast majority of these children die.
McNeil lost friends to neuroblastoma as well, and as part of her childhood cancer awareness campaign, before her death in January 2011 at the age of 20, she designated that partial proceeds from her song The Will to Survive be donated to The James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research.
After McNeil’s death, The James Fund set a new goal in her honour. The goal is to raise $100,000 to identify drugs that are effective in treating neuroblastoma stem cells, with the intention of bringing those treatments to clinical trials.
This work is some of the most exciting science on the planet, and it will take place at the world-renowned BC Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver. The project has been named the Megan McNeil Gene Discovery Project.
Donations to McNeil’s childhood cancer awareness campaign are being accepted at In The Beantime Café.
Anyone who donates more than $5 will receive a copy of McNeil’s CD The Will To Survive 2011, which has just been released and which includes the song The Will To Survive and the song Wake Up by Ladysmith musician Ryan McMahon, featuring Megan McNeil.
Callum Brown’s mother, Tammy Dougan, spent a lot of time travelling back and forth to BC Children’s Hospital to care for her young son. All of the donations made in Ladysmith will be donated to The James Fund in Callum Brown’s memory.
Dougan is now very involved with fundraising in her son’s honour and for childhood cancer causes.
She recently gave birth to her third son, a beautiful, healthy baby named Wyatt.
For more information about Megan McNeil’s childhood cancer awareness campaign, e-mail Megan’s Campaign Headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org.