I also admit I have a legit shopping addiction.
Ok anyways, like I said, lack of blogging due to some action-packed-ness! Had SUCH a blast on the island (thanks Ry and Cath for letting me stay at your humble abode)… I’m happy to call you both friends, you are two wonderful people. I gained a lot of ab muscles from that trip laughing so hard!
Still can’t believe I was interviewed by Terry David Mulligan on friday as well… What an awesome guy! Big thanks to him taking time out of his schedule to come help out the project. I can’t believe September is coming so soon, and I really want to see the finished music video! Stoked!
Anyways, off to enjoy the sunshine!
Ciao for now,
The moment legendary producer Garth Richardson heard Megan McNeil’s The Will to Survive, he was in. McNeil’s lyrics had a wisdom well beyond their years and the chorus was so catchy, he found himself repeatedly humming it over the next few days. He wasn’t looking for a cause, but he’s always on the look out for a good song. In The Will to Survive, he found both.
“It’s one of those songs,” he says, “that’s going to be around for a long time, giving people strength when they need it most. Because while it is a song celebrating kids who are battling cancer, it’s also a kind of anthem for anyone who has ever faced terrible adversity. ”
A Juno winner who was also nominated for a Grammy, Richardson has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Hedley, Nickelback, Kiss, and Alice Cooper. He has an ear for talent and an ability to nurture emerging musicians. He did, after all, produce the self titled debut album for Rage Against the Machine.
Megan McNeil, now 19, has battled a form of adrenal cancer called Adrenalcortical Carcinoma since she was 16. She wrote The Will to Survive as a way of helping other, often younger children keep their courage up when illness made hope seem distant.
“I thought if only I can even help one other person, then the song will have meant something,” McNeil says, remember how lonely the childhood cancer journey can be. But it has grown to help many, especially those funding childhood cancer research at The James Fund, and BCCCPA, which provides financial support for families battling childhood cancer. Getting the word out on these two not for profit organizations is top of Megan’s list.
The melody came to McNeil one day while sitting in her bedroom. She refused to let herself leave until she had the melody down. After that, the words started coming. She began working on it with the Erin Johnson, the music therapist until she had something she felt was ready to start showing people. Dan Mornar, the family representative at the hospital took it to The Childhood Cancer Foundation whose then CEO David Stones and marketing director Mary Lye helped to champion the project in its infancy. Richardson was given a copy of the song shortly thereafter.
As he has done for others songs supporting causes, including did like Young Artists for Haiti, Richardson pulled together a crackerjack team of producers, technicians, songwriters, and musicians all dedicated to making The Will to Survive to life the best song it could be. He sourced Indy cult-favourite singer/songwriter Ryan McMahon to help fine tune the song’s lyrics and orchestration. McMahon also sang back up vocals, as did kids battling cancer.
Including cancer-fighting kids in the actual recording was McNeil’s idea, a way of recognizing the hope they give to each other. “They’re my heroes,” said McNeil, “they are who inspire me in my current fight with cancer.”
Although McNeil had lived cancer free for the previous year, the cancer returned in February 2010, and is in her arm and liver. She has already endured 20 rounds of chemo and there are fewer treatment options available to her. But she has beaten cancer three times previously, and she doesn’t plan on losing this time either.
“It doesn’t matter what your odds are, I believe as long as you have ‘the will to survive’, you can beat it no matter how low your chances may be. Cancer is pretty tough, but I like to think that the mind is 10 times more powerful.”
McNeil is making plans to go to return to school, where she’d like to become a researcher, specifically looking into childhood cancers. That’s if a singing career doesn’t lure her away…
Meanwhile, McMahon is back in the recording studio making a new album two years after his album “Weeks, Months, Years” took CBC and much of Canada by storm.
And Richardson balances an insanely busy production schedule, which takes him frequently to London and New York, with the mentoring he does through Nimbus School of Recording Arts. Richardson founded Nimbus with Kevin Williams and music icon Bob Ezrin, renowned for his work with Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Roberta Flack and the recent hit version of K’naan’s “Waving Flag” by Young Artists for Haiti, which debuted at number one on Billboard Magazine’s Canadian Hot 100.
The Will to Survive has a Facebook Page called I want to give children fighting cancer The Will to Survive where fans can get regular updates and the website www.willtosurvive.org features the latest news, videos and other information.
A video in support of the song is now available at http://www.youtube.com/user/GottheWilltoSurvive#p/a/u/0/Y9pHISnIj2Y
The song can be purchased on iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-will-to-survive/id378380828 and on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Will-To-Survive/dp/B003T5FR1K/ref=sr_shvl_album_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1281311518&sr=301-3
A portion of every paid download of The Will to Survive will benefit childhood cancer causes, including The James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research and BCCCPA. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Megan is hoping people will consider making a donation to a cause that specifically deals with childhood cancer.
But more than that, McNeil hopes that the song will help put childhood cancer on the radar screen. Research into adult cancers does very little to help fight childhood cancers, but research into childhood cancers helps fight adult cancers too. Childhood cancer is woefully underfunded, and families fighting childhood cancers endure terrible hardships, both emotional and financial.
She hopes The Will to Survive will elevate the cause of childhood cancer and send a message to those battling it that they are not alone.
Here’s to the fight.
Here’s to the fighters.
Here’s to the brave that take this on…
Megan McNeil and her family know how hard the childhood cancer journey can be. And how lonely too. BCCCPA was there for the McNeils, as it has been for so many. And it hopes to be an inspiration to others wherever they live whose worlds have been turned upsidedown by childhood cancer.
BCCCPA was founded in November of 2002 by twelve parents determined to do something to ease the burdens that come with childhood cancer. It was time…these parents felt that their voice be added to the chorus of many others who were speaking on behalf of children and youth with cancer and their families.
The childhood cancer journey is costly. One parent often has to quit work to look after the ill child, and the emotional and financial stress often costs families their homes, their cars, and even each other. The rate of suicide and alcoholism amongst surviving siblings is very high. The burden is to great to bear alone. Our goal is to help shoulder some of it.
BCCCPA works closely with pediatricians, oncologists, and others to identify the programs and services that will help a child or youth with cancer or a blood disorder meet the many challenges of diagnosis and treatment. Supporting the areas of patient care, outreach, advocacy and pediatric cancer research are the cornerstones of the BCCCPA mission.
BCCCPA advocates for and helps to fund programs and services that strive to improve the survival rates of pediatric cancers while also enhancing the quality of life for both the pediatric cancer patient and their family.
Childhood cancer doesn’t just affect the child. It affects the whole family and ripples out through whole communities. And yet research into childhood cancers are woefully underfunded, and support for families is woefully inadequate.
We know. Because we’ve been there. And we are determined to walk beside those who will let us.
To help us help families battling childhood cancer in BC, please donate at www.bcccpa.org.
The James Fund is on a desperate mission to put itself out of business. It was started by one remarkable little boy, James Birrell, and his family, who were trying to save James’ life.
Sadly, The James Fund was not in time for James, who died in 2001 at the age of eight. But its goal is to be in time for somebody’s child, and every child thereafter, so that no family will know how devastating neuroblastoma used to be.
Since its humble roots around a kitchen table, The James Fund has grown to be recognized as one of the leading funds globally fighting neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest childhood cancers.
Hollywood star Tom Hanks is The Honourary Patron of The James Fund.
Now, this movement fueled by neuroblastoma families themselves, is no longer about saving one little boy; it is about saving every child.
James believed that one day, scientists would figure out neuroblastoma and prevent it from killing children. Even when he knew it was too late for him, he continued to champion the cause.
“With all this experimenting they’ll figure it out and then all the kids with neuroblastoma will be able to survive,” James said.
The James Fund is working desperately for that day. And it’s not just for someone else’s family. It’s for yours. While research into adult cancers yields very few insights into childhood cancer, research into childhood cancer yields important findings into adult diseases. Chronically underfunded, it is often left to parents to fund some this most important research. Parents, and good people just like you.
To learn more about The James Fund or to make a donation, please visit www.jamesfund.ca
Organizations like The James Fund are working for a day when childhood cancer does not take the terrible toll it currently does. And BCCCPA is helping to lessen the burdens on childhood cancer families. Every year, in North America alone, approximately 12,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer. More than 100,000 children battle the disease at any one time in Canada and the US.
For families, the impact of childhood cancer is devastating. The level of care for a child enduring cancer treatment more often than not requires one parent to stop working. Other siblings often feel neglected, resentful and guilty. Marriages often fail, and far too often, families lose their homes, their cars, and sometimes, each other. The rate of sibling suicide is much higher than the national average and alcoholism and other addictions comes with the territory.
Sometimes, whole communities are affected. It is not uncommon for friends and schoolmates of children battling cancer to be psychologically impacted. And the potential that is lost from that one life when a child dies from cancer is staggering.
The treatments for childhood cancer are harsh and usually not designed for children, but instead are adult treatments adjusted for smaller bodies. Children who have endured treatments like chemotherapy are more prone to secondary cancers, and even for those who escape secondary cancers, the long term effects of the drugs used can be devastating.
Childhood cancer strikes without warning and, unlike most adult cancers, is not caused by lifestyle choices. In fact, the causes of childhood cancers are not known at this time, meaning research is absolutely critical.
While research into adult cancers like breast and prostate yield no benefit to understanding and solving childhood cancers, research into childhood cancers can yield tremendous insights into the battle against all cancers. And yet, childhood cancer research receives a fraction of the funding that adult cancers do.
Twenty-five years ago, a diagnosis of childhood cancer was more likely a death sentence than not. 80 per cent of children battling childhood cancer died and only 20 per cent lived. But in one generation, those numbers are reversed, and now 80 per cent of children survive.
It’s better. But it’s not enough. We envision a world where every child survives childhood cancer, and lives a long and productive life free of secondary illnesses and terrible side effects.
The song “The Will to Survive” is meant to celebrate kids battling cancer and give them hope to carry on.
A portion of proceeds will also help raise funds to help battle childhood cancer and support families going through it. Charities benefiting from the song include The James Fund, recognized around the world for its battling against neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest childhood cancers and BCCCPA, a parents’ organization that has been extremely helpful to Megan and her family.
Want to help? Please help us spread the word about childhood cancer awareness through Megan McNeil’s beautiful song “The Will to Survive.”
1. Please join the Will to Survive Facebook page where you will get updated regularly on when the song is out on iTunes and what stations will be picking up the song for airplay.
3. Please spread the word to your friends, family, email lists, Facebook and twitter pages, work newsletters, websites, and any other way you can think of. You can share the Will to Survive video right from YouTube.
3. If you hear the song on your local radio station and you like it, please let that station know. Please don’t call stations who aren’t playing it or call stations out of your local listening area. Those stations will penalize the artist and the song.
Thank you for caring about childhood cancer. Together, let’s work for a day when Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is completely unnecessary.