A Gold Ribbon Hero Dad Goes Fishing for Greater Awareness!
In celebration of Father’s Day, we would like to take a few minutes to introduce Gold Ribbon Hero Thomas “TA” Tucker, the proud father of childhood cancer warrior Harley and now a dedicated childhood cancer advocate. An avid bass fisherman, TA has created a unique and incredible decoration for his fishing boat that showcases the gold ribbon symbolizing childhood cancer as well as his family’s childhood cancer motto: #HARLEYSTRONG. Now, he is taking his message on the road, or should we say…on the water…to spread awareness about childhood cancer and the need for new and better treatment options for this rare and devastating disease!
ACCO is so excited to share the Tucker family’s story with you and help TA on his mission to raise awareness about childhood cancer: what it means for children, what it means for parents, and what it means for families. TA is exactly the kind of advocate kids with cancer need today, and we hope his enthusiasm and dedication will inspire you this Father’s Day.
TA Tucker, Childhood Cancer Advocate
When his daughter Harley was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer—Rhabdomyosarcoma—in January 2015, TA was devastated. “I couldn’t believe when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. The feeling I had was unexplainable, and I’m sure that’s how every parent feels.” As TA and his wife began the difficult task of guiding Harley through treatment, he was disappointed and frustrated with the lack of innovative, more effective and less toxic treatment options for Rhabdomyosarcoma and other forms of childhood cancer. As TA states, “Children are the future of America and I feel the majority of funding for research should go towards saving our children.”
Unwilling to simply sit back and do nothing, TA has made it his mission to do what he can to raise awareness about childhood cancer and the need for greater investment in finding better treatments—and cure—for all types of childhood cancer. So, he decorated his bass fishing boat with the gold ribbon symbol for childhood cancer and is taking it—and his message of awareness—on tour throughout the Southeast United States!
To understand TA’s dedication to this critical cause, we celebrate Harley as well! Harley was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in January 2015, at the age of six. While preparing for a previously scheduled surgery on her nose and sinuses, the surgical team quickly realized that there was a problem. An emergency MRI revealed a tumor growing between her eyes and nose, pressing on the optic nerve.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue cancer in children and accounts for about 3% of all childhood cancers, with approximately 350 new diagnoses every year in the U.S. Rhabdomyosarcoma develops in cells that normally grow into skeletal muscles. As in Harley’s case, rhabdomyosarcoma commonly begins in the head and neck area (near the eye, nasal sinuses, throat, or spine), but it can also grow in the urinary and reproductive organs, the arms and legs, as well as the chest or abdomen.
Traditional treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma includes radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and if possible, surgery to remove the tumor. Luckily, Harley’s tumor responded to radiation therapy and began shrinking immediately! After six weeks of intensive radiation therapy, Harley celebrated her final radiation treatment on March 3, 2015. Chemotherapy continued for several more months, but Harley was able to celebrate her final chemotherapy treatment in November 2015. Regular scans show that 18 months later, she is still NED!
TA and His Boat on Tour for Greater Awareness
Working with Balance Graphics in Charleston, WV and ACCO’s graphic designer, TA developed a truly unique and distinctive branding for his bass fishing boat by incorporating the gold ribbon and the ACCO trademarked logo …because kids can’t fight cancer alone!® And of course the decoration also features the logo the Tucker family used during Harley’s treatment: #HARLEYSTRONG. TA currently plans to use his boat in bass fishing tournaments throughout West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and possibly as far as Florida. At every stop, during every tournament, TA’s message of awareness will be prominently visible. He hopes that it will encourage people to ask questions, learn about childhood cancer and join in the fight to encourage and stimulate the development of more effective and less toxic treatments for childhood cancer.
On this Father’s Day, ACCO is very excited to partner with this amazing Dad and help him bring his vision and mission to life! TA’s enthusiasm, determination and love will surely carry his message of awareness about childhood cancer far and wide.
About American Childhood Cancer Organization
American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer. And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.
For additional information about childhood cancer or on ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org.