Catherine Anaya

The most helpless need our attention

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I can’t get the song out of my head. It’s the words which so vividly bring to life the relationship between a little Valley boy and his mother, and her anguish at losing him to cancer. It’s the performance so achingly raw and heartfelt from such a young songwriter. 

Taylor Swift wrote the song, Ronan, after following his mom Maya’s heartbreaking blog about the untimely death of her three-year-old son, Ronan, to cancer, and then meeting Maya several months later backstage at one of her concerts.

Like the song that immediately soared to the top of the iTunes charts, Ronan’s story has hit a heart-wrenching nerve among people all over the world. It has prompted many like me to hold our children that much closer at the terrifying thought of losing them. It’s also spotlighted some sobering statistics about childhood cancer. According to the Ronan Thompson Foundation website:

46 children a day are diagnosed with cancer

Seven of them will die today

Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children

Pediatric cancer only receives 3.8 percent of all cancer research funding

Years ago, I won my first Emmy Award for a multi-part story I did on a five-year-old little girl’s battle with leukemia. It was bittersweet recognition for a story that started out as a push to find a match for a bone marrow transplant. I never considered that little Ashley wouldn’t survive. I detailed her courageous fight and the physical and emotional toll it took on her parents.

My daughter was less than a year old at the time. The more attached I became to Ashley and her family’s plight, the more I realized how just how easily their tragedy could have been mine, yours, anyone’s.  

I don’t know Maya personally. But, through her blog, I have felt her grief. Through Swift’s song, I get a sense of what her boy was like; an innocent little being who shouldn’t have had to face such a terrifying disease. 

Both mothers are proving that even the smallest effort at change can lead to unimaginable results.

I downloaded the song. I listen to it every day and have yet to do so without crying. I’ve shared it with my children and with my social media friends. 

I encourage you to listen to it as well, download it (proceeds go to cancer charities), visit Maya’s blog,, donate to the Foundation and help keep Ronan and Ashley’s memories alive.

Their heartache could very easily have been ours. 

Please join me in spreading the word about this global effort to prevent other children and parents from having to experience such devastating pain and loss.

Catherine Anaya anchors CBS 5 News weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 10 pm. She is a mother of two, marathon runner and motivational speaker. Reach her at, connect with her on Facebook, twitter and at

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