Everybody loves a rebel.
Who doesn't love someone willing to take the fate of the world, and themselves, by the reigns, who isn't afraid to steer and redirect and knock down the walls which hold whatever beast they must slay? Rebels are radicals revolutionaries. They are dreamers armed with a sense of possibility and hope. Hope, that, by the time they're finished, something will be different than it was when they started.
It is no small coincidence the first letter of rebel is "R." R stands for Ronan, and the rebel with a cause who is taking the world of pediatric cancer by storm is his mother, Maya Thompson.
In May 2011, Ronan Sean Thompson died of Neuroblastoma, a disease around six hundred children in the United States are diagnosed with each year. As Ronan fought, his mother made him a promise -- she would continue the fight against pediatric cancer. This type of cancer remains the number-one disease killer in children, until people listened, funds were raised, and ultimately, a cure was found.
It was a mother's love and a rebel's ambition that fueled the start of The Ronan Thompson Foundation, created in honor of the little boy whose name it bears. Though the foundation's ultimate mission is to fund research trials and a world-class Neuroblastoma research and care center, it has swiftly erupted into much more than an organization that collects donations. RTF is responsible for lending a voice to the victims of pediatric cancer and their families, and for encouraging millions of people throughout the world to live like rockstars, like rebels, and like Ronan.
Citing Henry David Thoreau's line "all good things are wild and free" as her mantra, Thompson lives by her own words. She lives, as she states on her blog, Rockstar Ronan, exactly the way Ronan did, and would have continued to, with conviction and courage and love. As she takes to her blog to document everything from RTF's latest goings-on to her daily thoughts, Thompson herself has created a movement. Her loyal followers (who affectionately title themselves "Maya's Mafia") are not only aware of the havoc childhood cancer is reeking, but they refuse to go silent until the rest of the world listens. Proudly brandishing the hashtag #FUCancer, Thompson is brutally, devastatingly honest in her writing and her work.
Apparently another aspect of her rebellion is the ability to multitask with flair: In addition to being at the helm of The Ronan Thompson Foundation, Thompson is hands-on, routinely visiting Phoenix Children's Hospital with Ronan's Candy Cart, distributing goodies to sick patients of all ages (RTF recently teamed up with NFL player Adrian Wilson, who donated toys and clothing to patients). Earlier this year, RTF partnered with SpiritHoods, and Thompson appeared onscreen in a short promotional documentary. When she's not writing on her blog, she's spilling her heart and soul onto pages of a different form: The book she's writing, telling the in-depth story of Ronan and his experience. As a mother of four, there is a mother's love in everything Thompson touches. If anyone ever questioned that love is the most powerful force in the universe, they need no further example than Maya and Ronan.
Another "R" word that describes Thompson is "raw." Heart-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, poetically raw in every blog post, every Instagram snap, and every RTF activity. Gone are the days of young patients being portrayed as nothing more than cuddly bald statistics. Thompson is fierce and poignant, soulful in her ability to write and speak with candor. The truth of pediatric cancer is ugly, and Thompson doesn't shy away from that fact. It's the truth she believes in, and Ronan's truth she will continue to tell.
In a completely jaw-dropping fashion, Thompson turns grief upside down: Something about her ability to be honest, to let the world in, to let them see her family, her son, and herself at their most vulnerable is uplifting even within tragedy. When you read Thompson's writing, your heart breaks --but is filled, in the same moment, with awe, at a woman who let love conquer all. That love isn't just conquering, it is changing. She is not just changing the game; she's changing the world.
It was Ronan's spirit and his story that captured the heart of America's sweetheart, Taylor Swift. It was his charismatic, knowing blue eyes that made the world fall in love, and it was his story that made them listen. It was the bond between two soulmates, a mother and son, that sparked a foundation, and in turn, it is that foundation that will slay the beast, childhood cancer. If we stay true to the fairytales Taylor Swift loves to write, the prince will find his princess, and the world will be at peace.
In this version, the hero, Ronan, has his heroine, Maya, and the two of them will create a world where cancer is no more.
It was Maya, a lover, a revolutionary, a dreamer, a darer, who stood and screamed his story, and told the often-overlooked tales of patients and families who too often suffer in silence. It is Maya, the mother, whose love will rock the boat and make waves.
And it is Maya, the rebel, who helped Ronan change the world.
In honor of Maya's birth month, January, you can donate to The Ronan Thompson Foundation by visiting: http://www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com/
You can read Maya's personal blog at: http://rockstarronan.com/