When their infant son got a diagnosis that would later lead to cancer, parents Alissa and Kevin Silva turned to social media for support in the form of a page called Baby Mason Updates. They quickly amassed more than 21,000 likes, and are now above 69,000 thanks to following along with the family's updates on the 6-month-old's health. Sadly, on his first birthday, April 5, 2014, baby Mason passed away from the leukemia.
Another year has come and gone, including the arrival of a new Silva baby girl, but Alissa has not forgotten about her son or his struggle. On Sept 1, which marks the beginning of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Alissa returned to social media, this time with a video that calls attention to the need for more funding for childhood cancer research.
"I honestly had originally thought that it's 2015 we are in the USA and at Boston Children's which is one of the best hospitals in the world so the treatment must be good and the best," she told A Plus. "I quickly learned that it wasn't the case and the drugs used were old and SO hard and toxic to our kids. Kids who 'make it' go on to suffer terrible side effects from treatment for the rest of their lives. I was devastated."
She got the idea for the video after seeing a similar card video online.
"I thought to myself that if I could make one about childhood cancer maybe people could learn more about it and it seemed like a good way to get their attention," she said.
With Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" playing in the background, Alissa holds up cards that tell Mason's story.
As it stands, the government only designates 4 percent of cancer research funding toward childhood cancer. Though survival rates have increased significantly over the years, some forms of cancer have seen little progress.
Alissa's video, which has been posted to the Baby Mason Facebook page and amassed more than 1 million views and shares, addresses this.
On the Facebook page, she also included a link to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research. So far she's raised more than $7,000 of her and her husband's $10,000 goal.
"This is my fight song and I will keep fighting for my baby and all of the kids," she wrote.
And her message to parents currently with kids fighting cancer is this:
"Share your stories and tell people the truth about just how awful the disease truly is," she told A Plus. "Reach out to others who have walked your path and lived your pain and never stop fighting for all of our kids who deserve better than 4%!!."
She sure did.
To donate, visit Baby Mason's page.
Let's help end childhood cancer.