Dear Family, friends and members of The Ginger Movement (aka Friends of Connor):
I don't even know where to start, the beginning of this story seems like so long ago - and just like yesterday at the same time. So, please excuse if this is a ramble.
My beautiful Ginger kid was diagnosed with melanoma the first time in Feb, 2012. 4 months later, after 2 surgeries and 100s of stitches, he was declared "cancer free". This was his senior year of high school.
Last year at this time, I was building this same fundraiser page, so excited to have been selected by MFNE to join the 2014 Boston Marathon team. Less than 1 week after I started my fundraising, Connor, then age 20, was diagnosed again - this time his melanoma had spread to every organ in his body, except his lungs and brain. It was even in his eyes and his bones. We immediately started treatment and by mid December his tumors had begun to shrink and some even disappeared. We were thrilled.
On December 28 Connor had a seizure. We rushed to the hospital to find that while his meds were effective in his body, they were not effective in crossing the brain barrier and protecting his brain. He had numerous "too many to count" tumors throughout his brain. On December 30, we were told that the next step would be whole brain radiation and were preparing to start that on Jan 2, 2014.
December 31st, New Years Eve, was a good day. It was the last good day. We had a room full of friends and Connor, while sometimes disoriented, laughed and joked and was himself. It was the last good day. You never know something is the last until it is.
On Jan 1, 2014, Connor woke up and I could tell that something was very very different. He could not verbalize very well. He could not articulate names of people though clearly he recognized them. He said Mom. We walked around his hospital floor. We looked at the view of The Golden Gate Bridge. He cried. He said Mom. Then he had a seizure and after 3 hours we were finally able to stablizie him with medications.
I was told at 2pm on Jan 1, 2014 that there was no hope. There was no more treatment to be done. His tumors had spread too far. I had to make a decision that no person, no parent, should ever have to make. We stopped treatment and began the saddest time of our lives. He never oped his eyes again.
One person dies from this devastating disease every hour of every day. My beautiful son, my only child, my Ginger kid, died in the hour between 2am and 3am on January 9, 2014.
The fact is, melanoma is cancer. Its CANCER. And it is quite misunderstood. I'm running Boston's 2015 marathon In Memory of Connor. I'm running for this organization because of their dedication to reducing the incidence of melanoma through creating awareness, education and prevention programs.
Please consider supporting this cause. In loving memory of Connor Mehaffey Cockerham: July 8, 1993 - January 9, 2014.
"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will answer you: I am here to live out loud" ~ Emile Zola
With love and gratitude,
Melanoma Foundation of New England wrote -
The Melanoma Foundation of New England's mission is to reduce the incidents of melanoma in the New England region through education, prevention and support. MFNE hosts a range of educational programs to spread awareness. These programs include Your Skin Is In, a program teaching high school and college students the dangers of tanning, and The Skinny on Skin, which teaches beauty professionals to recognize potential melanomas on the head, neck and scalp of their clients.
Team Running for Cover is running the 2015 Boston Marathon to raise funds to support MFNE's mission. All funds raised will be used to fund and expand these educational programs throughout the New England Area.