Fighting Cancer… Again

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It has been a crazy year of cancer.

Maybe I am getting older or maybe cancer is just getting more intense, but I can’t remember another time in my life when so many people that I know have come down with so many different forms of cancer. I’m lucky, all of these people are dealing with it and cancer has not gotten the best of them.

A deeply, personal story…

It was beautiful and perfect sunny day on August 25th, 2010. I was flying from Montreal to Toronto for a business pitch (ironically, it was the Canadian Cancer Society). I was happy with life – family, business and community were all going along great. I remember looking out of the plane window into the clear blue horizon and thinking, "life is good. I am very lucky." I was looking forward to landing because I was about to call my best friend to let him know that my family was expecting a new baby. I’ve known this person for my whole life. I can’t remember them not being a part of my life or a friend. He was the first call outside of my immediate family with the good news. He always is. When the flight landed, I received a phone call from him. I was smiling to myself thinking, "this is perfect! He’s calling me!"

That’s when my world collapsed.

He told me that his beautiful, young daughter, Leah (who was five years old), had cancer… leukemia. How could that be? A few weeks prior she was at my kid’s Birthday party, laughing, playing… perfect. Now… Leukemia? It was – without a question – the hardest moment of my life… trying to understand and take in what my best friend was telling me about his daughter… who I would treat as my own daughter in terms of love and care.

It makes no sense.

The stress, tears and worry since that day has been non-stop, persistent and draining. Leah’s courage throughout this nightmare is what pulled everyone through – family and friends. If there were ever a definition for "survivor" it is Leah. After a lengthy and hard battle, she is – thankfully – in remission and back home where she belongs: with her family and friends. Two years ago, she was diagnosed and a year after that, she was in remission (and remains there).

She’s lucky, but many, many kids are not this lucky.

Now, it’s our turn to make a difference. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Light The Night Walk is a night to pay tribute and bring hope to all those affected by blood cancer. On October 13th, I will be joining thousands of people walking in twilight carrying illuminated balloons to fight this dreaded disease for the second year in a row. I’m doing this as a part of Leah’s team. I’ll be walking with Leah and her family. Leah didn’t deserve cancer of the blood… nobody does.

I’m asking you to do something for me.

This will be my tenth year of blogging. I do my best to put out six blog posts and one audio podcast every week (yes, I have some catch-up to do this week). This makes it over three thousand entries over the years. In all of that time, I have only asked for something twice: The first time, it was to help spread the word about my business book, Six Pixels of Separation (for which everyone responded in a humbling and kind way). The second, was over a year ago in conjunction with the launch of the End Malaria book (of which I was one of over sixty contributors) as a part of Seth Godin‘s The Domino Project (the book did great! It hit #2 on Amazon and raised tons of money to buy mosquito nets for those in need). This will be the third time. In a perfect world, I’d prefer to not ask for help (those who know me, personally, can attest that I struggle with asking for help). In all instances, I try to make the ask something that has more value to the person actually taking action. Meaning, I prefer when the value of the ask is balanced not towards the person asking, but to those who participate. I’m confident that on all three occasions, this has been the outcome. This isn’t about me raising money. It’s about our kids and the randomness and cruelty that is leukemia and because none of us are safe. Leah got leukemia with no family history of the problem. Nothing. Now, Leah (who is in remission) will have to deal with this for the rest of her life.

Please help.

I set a goal of $2000 to raise from friends and family. The truth is that I would love to crack the $10,000 mark. I do realize that times are tough and many of us are watching our wallets just a little bit closer than we usually have, but please consider giving something. You know the saying, "every dollar counts." If over the years, any of my content has struck a chord with you, made you smile, made you see your business world in a different way, I hope that you will consider this ask as the "tip jar" for my thoughts. Please help me. Please sponsor my walk. Please give generously. Please.

If you can find it in your heart to give, please do so right here: Light The Night Walk.

A little something in return.

As a "thank you," here’s what I am offering:

  • Whoever gives the most money gets me for a one-hour get-together. It can be via video Skype, phone or in-person (meaning, if you’re in Montreal or if I happen to be travelling to wherever it is that you live). It will be a social meeting, but you can feel free to ask me anything. Lunch is on me. I’ll also include a signed copy of Six Pixels of Separation and when the next book, CTRL ALT DEL, comes out (May 2013), you will be one of the first to get a signed edition.
  • Whoever comes in next gets two signed copies of my first book, Six Pixels of Separation, and two signed copies of the next one, CTRL ALT DEL, when it comes out.
  • Whoever comes in third gets one signed copy of both Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT DEL.

Please help out. Please help me spread the good word. Thank you.

My friend wrote the following song and performed it. This should add some more context to my ask…


  1. Mitch, this is awesome – and a true testament to your character. My wife and I have been involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for nearly a decade now and both our lives have been touched deeply by the experience. You have my support.

  2. Dear Mitch, you’re going to crack $10K in no time. This is a great cause and there is no need to be shy to ask for donations because cancer affects us all. We’re all in this together.

  3. Dear Mitch, you got my support, just made a donation. You will definitely reach the goal! My thoughts are with your friend’s daughter and family.

  4. Mitch,
    This was one of your most touching posts. You are so right that we are never safe from illness – Leukemia, even when a child goes into remission, can steal away part of their childhood and innocence.
    A blogger from the US, is very much like you, she doesn’t ask if it isn’t important. She is currently offering up her ad-free blog for a month and in exchange for ad space – she is raising funds for her brother who has cancer. She did this for a little boy about a year ago and it was inspiring how everyone came together to support such an important cause. Here’s a link to her story about Jonathan and special ad program.
    Good luck with your quest to raise much needed funds. You have the ability to reach so many people, I am confident you will exceed your goal.

  5. I have a niece in remission from leukemia, a brother-in-law fighting metastasized kidney cancer, another brother-in-law dying of multiple myloma. I am looking after the dog of a dear friend whose husband died of stomach cancer when my friend was four months pregnant with their first child… cancer diagnosed after the baby was conceived. I know the heavy heart.
    Thanks for all your writing Mitch. I read as much of it as I can. I loved Six Pixel of Separation. I look forward to your next book. Keep up the good work.

  6. Amazing story Mitch, thank you for sharing it!! I want to share a story with you to give you some more hope…you can never have too much hope ithese cases!
    About 5 years I went out to dinner with my wife and daughter at one of those habachi restaurants where you sit with other rope as they cook in front of you. At the table was a really nice family with 2 young girls. The oldest was about 8 and was wearing a bandana on her head. We didn’t think much of it.
    We all had a great time talking and laughing and then “it” came up. The young gir had a tumor the size of a softball removed from her kidney. She finished her chemo treatments and this was her celebratory dinner. She was an amazing girl. Told us about what she went through with nothing but strength while her parants (her father was a cop) sat there and cried.
    At the end of the night I asked the waitress to give me both bills so I could pay and she said it was too late they had already paid for us. We sent them a nice gift as a thank you and ended up becoming friends with them.
    About 4 1/2 years later, their daughter was working at our sons (not born at the time of the dinner) 4th birthday. There was no one more energetic in the room. She was amazing with all of the kids. She was probably the happiest kid I know. And 100% cancer free!

  7. Mitch, thank you for posting this. I’ve been through something very similar recently with so many friends getting cancer including a friend who is the mother of four children (she has a brain tumor that is inoperable). Hearing her husband confess that he agonizes over the thought that she won’t be there to walk her daughter down the aisle at her wedding brought me to tears. I can only imagine how much this feeling would be magnified when it is a child who is sick!
    One thing that is worth noting – particularly with regard to leukemia – is how easy it has become to be a bone marrow doner. Sadly, there are very few people on the marrow donor lists, and a large percentage of them decline to donate when they are found to be a match because they mistakenly believe that marrow donation is a painful process. New advances have made it possible to have marrow extracted from blood, making bone marrow donation no more difficult than giving blood.
    Giving money is great, but giving marrow is truly a life saver for someone with leukemia. I hope you will help spread the word!
    Best of luck with your walk – I think its great what you are doing!
    Kathleen Booth

  8. You have my support as well. My first husband passed away from Leukemia when he was 31 and our children were 2 and 5. It’s an awful disease and needs far more research behind it then it currently receives. You’re doing a good thing. My thoughts are with your friend, his daughter and his family.

  9. Just thank you for helping point out this heartbreaking issue, esply during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I hope you go way over $10,000!
    Praying for Leah and her family, for you and for Light the Night.
    Gail P. Smith
    P.S, Love “Six Degree…” I first heard it on a long drive up to MN and got so excited I had to pull the car over to take notes.

  10. Mitch
    I supported you last year and I will support you again this year. Why? Because I have been following your blog for a few years now, as I work in the media business, and I have been happily informed, engaged and educated by your writing. Thank you.
    But I am also supporting you because my little granddaughter was born with a chronic auto immune disorder that usually manifests in a secondary illness near puberty, such as leukemia. And yet, although she is only 2 and 1/2 years old, she already faces her shots to boost her white blood cells like a fearless giant, while the rest of us live in worry of what she may yet have to face. So, yes, I will contribute to your walk, and as you go along please know that you are also walking for us and little Abigale.
    All the best.

  11. Mitch,
    This post really struck a chord with me. As a father to a beautiful little girl, as well as having recently lost my amazing father-in-law to complications from the horrible evil that is leukemia, this is something that really resonates in my heart. I’ll do my best to get the word out and share this with as many people as I can.
    Thank you for doing this!
    – Jonathan

  12. Thanks for sharing your story, Mitch. My son is a cancer survivor, and we’ve been lucky (he’s cancer free and it’s been eight years + since his diagnosis). But so many other kids and their families aren’t so lucky. It rips your heart out.
    These are the stories that provide perspective on life, what is important and what it means to truly live. Whether as the child, parent or friend of the family, it’s life changing.
    The good side of that is the amazing organizations that spring up as a result. And the care and love that spill out from friends and strangers alike. It’s heart warming.
    Good luck with your fundraising!

  13. Robin, thank you for mentioning your story. I am the father of young kids and your comments helped me see my situation with fresh eyes. I’m very sorry for your loss.

  14. Robin, what a story. It really brought a tear to my eye. I’m going to make an additional donation to this cause as a tribute to your family – and all of the other people who have commented here about their personal stories. Thanks for sharing… it brings the impact of this stupid disease home. Warm regards.

  15. Thanks for the note, Jonathan! I am very sorry for your loss. The amount of stories I have heard like yours this past year has been heartbreaking. I can only hope that our cumulative actions to fight this will end cancer.

  16. Wow… what a day! We hit the 10k mark at around noon. I simply can’t believe it. Wow.
    As you all know, it doesn’t really end at 10k (that was just a random number I picked). The battle wages on, so any help is still greatly appreciated!

  17. I know exactly how you feel, Mitch. In 2006, my 3-month old nephew was diagnosed with two types of leukemia. That motivated me to raise money for Light the Night, the first time I ever fundraised for cancer.
    Fast forward to now and though my nephew didn’t win his 6-month courageous battle, it led to myself and my wife starting a nonprofit organization (Tap Cancer Out).
    I think you’ll crush your NEXT goal as well, and it warms my heart to see anyone raising money for the fight against cancer. We’ll cure it, some day.

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