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Union in the community: McCarthy shows solidarity with cancer patient

Philadelphia Union John McCarthy joins Team Cameron, shaving his head in a show of solidarity with seven-year-old Cameron, who is fighting against Ewing's Sarcoma.

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Cancer is awful. When I was 18, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and less than a year later she lost her battle. I have seen what it does to people. I have felt the hurt and anguish of losing someone I love from it. I cheer for those who fight it. I mourn for those who succumb to it. I empathize with those who have it or love someone who does.

It's especially heartbreaking when children get cancer. Kids should be out playing, not staying in sterile hospital rooms. They should be running and playing games with their friends instead of taking mountains of drugs and getting to know the nursing staff. As the father of a ten-year-old, I can't imagine my son being robbed of his childhood by that awful disease. I am thankful every day he is so lucky.

But not everyone is as fortunate. It's a tough thing for a child, having to deal with the physical and emotional pain of fighting for their lives. Often just knowing they're supported can make a huge impact on them. Cameron is one such brave child. The seven-year-old has Ewing's Sarcoma, which causes cancerous cells to form in bone or soft tissues. With early treatment, the prognosis is good - a reported 70-80% survival rate. If it's caught too late, the prognosis is grim. Cameron is at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children now getting treatment.

BJ Nolek is a Philadelphia Union season ticket holder. His son goes to school with Cameron, and Cameron's name came up in an email at Aston Youth Soccer. Nolek, who is active with Aston Youth Soccer, reached out to the Union and asked if the club for help.

"I wanted to do something special for Cameron, so I made a call to Alex Carrington and Colleen Geary to see if they could put me in touch with someone who could get me some autographed items to auction off for Team Cameron." Nolek said. "Within a couple of hours, I was contacted that John wanted to meet Cameron. After that, I played matchmaker between the two parties."

Yesterday, McCarthy met with Cameron and her family. He gave Cameron a pair of his signed gloves, and a card proclaiming that "Every game I play this year is for you." He also brought along hair clippers, and then had Cameron and her brothers and sisters shave his head in solidarity. I asked Nolek what a gesture like that would mean to Cameron, who faces seventeen more rounds of treatment.

"I thought it would be difficult to make the time, But John was persistent, and I respect the hell out of him for that. More athletes need to realize how much one hour of their time means to kids." he said. When asked what this meant to Cameron, Nolek said "I think it keeps a smile on her face, and with what her and her family is going through, smiles are welcome. She has a smile that could light the world on fire."

You can help too. There's a Facebook page where you can show your support for Cameron as well as a gofundme page to help with expenses. What else? Simple, says Nolek.

"Pray. Aston is a great community, and the outpouring of help, thoughts, and well wishes makes me proud to live here."