Taylor Matthews Honored on International Women’s Day
Conquering Kidz Cancer is proud to carry on Taylor’s mission and fight as hard as she did in her honor. We ask for your help. No gift is too small and every dollar counts. Please consider a donation so that Taylor’s mission remains eternal at http://taybandz.mydagsite.com/pics_video
Taylor Matthews was 11 years old and newly diagnosed with cancer when she founded tay-bandz (later known as Conquering Kidz Cancer) to raise money for and awareness of pediatric cancer. This year, eight years after her death at age 16, she is honored on International Women’s Day for embodying everything the global celebration stands for. Taylor’s determination was limitless: to fight cancer, not be defined by it; to live meaningfully; and to make a difference.
Taylor’s singular focus on changing the pediatric cancer world while fighting a battle for her own life raised $1 million in under five years. After her diagnosis and the beginning of what would be years of treatments, Taylor began designing fashion accessories to be sold at neighborhood and school events. Her idea took off as she and legions of friends got to work assembling, bagging, and selling the items.
In a profile written two years into Taylor’s battle, the Scarsdale Inquirer said, “In the past 18 months, Taylor has declared war against a diagnosis of bone cancer and taken to task a country that vastly under funds research for childhood cancers. Taylor’s fundraising crusade, waged while undergoing multiple surgeries, high-dose chemotherapy and countless hospitalizations, has changed the face of pediatric cancer research, already raising roughly $300,000.”
The Inquirer cited Taylor’s involvement in every medical decision she faced, determination to spend as little time in the hospital and as much time at school as possible, and her refusal to play by the rules. When a nurse urged her to walk more following a surgical procedure, she grabbed her IV pole and her father and left the hospital for ice cream. Taylor served as president of the foundation until her death in 2008.
In a piece about Taylor’s memorial service, the Scarsdale Inquirer wrote that countless friends, teachers, and school administrators had gathered to mourn and to celebrate the courageous, endearing, and unstoppable teenager. “Friends and family members who spoke addressed the many sides of Taylor’s unique personality: her determination, humor, intelligence, mischievousness and, above all, enormous capacity for love. They all spoke of how Taylor’s strength had made them stronger and how her love would always be in their hearts,” said the Inquirer.
Taylor’s mission has continued in her memory. “Taylor always said, ‘if one child could be saved, the fight would be worth it,’” said her mother Susan Matthews. The foundation has donated funds to enable cutting-edge research at institutions around the country including MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia Medical University, and the National Institutes of Health.
Conquering Kidz Cancer is focused on research that will reach sick kids today. The foundation funds precision medicine initiatives that harness the power of gene sequencing to customize treatments. “When kids get sick, they get sick hard and fast. They need treatment immediately,” said Matthews. Clinical trials, commonplace for adult medicines, are rare for children’s drugs. And, Matthews noted, parents fear if they enroll their child in a study, their child might receive the placebo and have no chance at survival.
According to its website, International Women’s Day, a tradition since 1975, celebrates “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” While Taylor would not live to adulthood, her achievements will give that gift to countless other children in battle against cancer. She truly embodies the word achievement. Taylor faced adversity head-on, offered a lifetime of love to the people lucky enough to be a part of her world, and continues to give hope for a meaningful and productive life to children who had no hope just a short time ago.