Megan McNeil, singer, loses battle with childhood cancer

Megan McNeil

Discovered by top producer, Megan McNeil’s “The Will to Survive” captured hearts
across North America and gave hope to many

January 29, 2011 – Vancouver, BC – Megan McNeil, 20, a singer who captured the hearts of North Americans with her song about what it’s like to be a kid battling childhood cancer, has died. She had battled Adrenalcortical Carcinoma since she was 16.

Megan wrote The Will to Survive to lift the spirits of other kids in the chemo ward.  When legendary music producer Garth Richardson (Hedley, Rage Against the Machine) heard it, he knew he had to be the one to produce it, and a campaign to raise awareness to fight childhood cancer was born.

Canada AM selected Megan’s story one of the best of 2010 and CBC’s Connect with Mark Kelley selected it as the most inspirational story of the year. Tens of millions of people throughout Canada and the US learned more about childhood cancer thanks to Megan’s song and media campaign, and news features on her appeared as far away as England and Russia.

Megan is survived by her parents Suzanne and Dave McNeil. No details about a celebration of Megan’s life are currently available but will be made known when they are available.

The family is requesting privacy at this time but they have issued the following statement:

“Our daughter was our hero.  She taught us the meaning of bravery and inspired us every day with her own Will to Survive. She wrote her song as a gift to anyone who needed to be picked up on a very bad day. And when you are a family fighting childhood cancer, there are a lot of very bad days. We are so grateful for the many who have reached out to let us know how much her song meant to them. And we are so glad she was, and is, our daughter.”

Megan was clear in her final hours that she wanted her campaign to go on because, as she said, “Too many kids have died from childhood cancer and it’s got to stop.”

Megan considered it her personal mission to tell the world how terribly underfunded research is into childhood cancer. She also wanted everyone to know that research into adult cancers does not do much to help kids but research into childhood cancers helps everyone, including adults.

Proceeds from “The Will to Survive”  go to childhood cancer organizations, including The James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research, which funds the James Birrell Laboratories at The Hospital for Sick Children and its research into neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest childhood cancers; and BCCCPA. The Will to Survive is for sale on iTunes and also on

BCCCPA, founded in November of 2002, is a registered non-profit charitable society whose mission is to provide financial support to families of a child with cancer and raise awareness for children and youth with cancer and blood disorders. BCCCPA’s Family Financial Aid Program is a prime example of how some of this support and awareness is designed and delivered. Other BCCCPA activities include annual grants to childhood cancer research projects along with advocacy for initiatives and programs that help to enhance the quality of life for children and youth with cancer and blood disorders.

The James Fund was established by the family of James Birrell to generate funds and knowledge leading to new therapies for the treatment of patients with neuroblastoma, one of the most frequent cause of disease-related death in children. James died of the disease in 2001 at the age of 8.  James Fund researchers are recognized globally, and have taken the top neuroblastoma research award in the world. The James Fund and its benefactor, The James Birrell Research Laboratories at The Hospital for Sick Children, are considered by many as the best hope kids battling neuroblastoma have. To date, seventeen research projects have been funded, twenty-five papers published, a drug-testing unit has been established, eight international collaborations are underway, and a new clinical trial is  bringing new hope to the parents of children suffering from this terrible childhood cancer. Hollywood actor Tom Hanks is its Honourary Patron.

There is a Facebook Page called I want to give children fighting cancer The Will to Survive where fans can post their messages to the family. The website is and the video in support of the song is at The song can be purchased on iTunes at and on Amazon at



Sad news

It is with a very heavy heart that we tell you of the passing of Megan McNeil. She died yesterday at the age of 20, having battled childhood cancer since she was 16. To learn more, please read the press release surrounding Megan McNeil’s death. Details about services and other information will be forthcoming as they become available.

In the meantime, the family asks that you share her video of The Will to Survive with those you love and that you download The Will to Survive song from iTunes. Proceeds go to support the fight against chidhood cancer, including two of Megan’s favourite causes: The James Fund and BCCCPA.

The family requests privacy at this time, but thanks everyone for their support and for sharing the gift of Megan and her song.