I first heard about DIPG when I stumbled on the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation Facebook page. I began reading the story of a six year old boy in Maryland named Michael who had recently passed away away from DIPG, leaving behind his devastated and heartbroken parents and little sister in addition to his extended family, friends, and community. After reading about Michael's story, I began reading and following the facebook pages of other kids with DIPG and learning about their journeys and the horrors that this cancer causes. After sitting on my couch day after day reading about yet another child being diagnosed with DIPG or another child dying from this cancer, I decided I needed to do something more than just sit on my couch and read about it. I decided to literally get off the couch and start running. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my phone, and began to run for the first time in my life. Running is something I never ever thought I could do- but reading about Michael and the hundreds of kids with DIPG inspired me to keep going.
For eight months, Michael battled DIPG which is a childhood brainstem tumor which stands for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. DIPG strikes 200-400 children each year in the U.S. alone, typically between ages four and eleven, and it has a 0% survival rate. Median survival from diagnosis is 9 months. Upon diagnosis, families are told that their child will deteriorate bit by bit, stealing their vision, ability to walk, bodily functions and movement, eating, speaking, and then finally breathing. Despite the heartbreak they have endured, Michael's parents Jenny and Mark, like so many other families, continue to fight against DIPG. They have dedicated the rest of their lives to raise awareness and research funding so that other families have hope and a cure. Since there is nothing they can do to bring Michael back, they channel all their sadness and loss into ensuring that other children and families have hope.
Childhood Cancer research gets less than 4% of all federal cancer research funding. Childhood cancers are considered unprofitable and therefore are not invested in. It has been left up to individual families to raise the money to find treatment and a cure. Children are worth more than this. They deserve a life. During Michael’s illness, he created a “to do list” every day. It included a wide variety of items he wanted to accomplish, from doing legos, to going to school, to drinking a milkshake. He insisted that the list had to be finished before he would go to sleep at night. The last item on Michael's list was to find a cure for DIPG. I am running this race to show Jenny, Mark, and Lila that their precious son Michael made a huge impact on my life, that he inspires me every day, and that I think about them always. That I admire them so much for the fight they are fighting and that they are not in this alone. I run to help check off the last item on Michael's bucket list. Join me in the fight!