One organization that in my opinion gained quite a lot of popularity the past few weeks is ‘MaxLove Project’. There was a simple social media campaign set up in honor of ‘National Childhood Cancer Awareness’ month between The Honest Company and ‘MaxLove Project’: #HonestLovesMax. A rather easy way to raise awareness and empower families fighting childhood cancer and life-threatening conditions.
Justin G. Wilford, co-founder of MaxLove Project, was keen to answer some questions about MaxLove Project. Justin holds a PhD in Geography from UCLA and he just finished teaching his last Geography class two weeks ago. This week Justin is entering a second PhD program, this one in public health. His goal is to research questions that pertain to the mission of MaxLove Project, namely helping kids and families thrive in the face off childhood cancer. Justin has many favorite quotes but he always loved this:
“You can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better.”
What should we know about ‘MaxLove Project’? Who is part of the team?
‘MaxLove Project is a volunteer run organization dedicated to empowering parents to be full partners in their children’s cancer care. We help parents with all the things they can do outside of the hospital, like nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and stress management. MLP is made up of an executive board, a community board, and a medical advisory board. We also have two awesome interns who handle a lot of the day-to-day business.’
Can you tell a bit more about the ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’ SuperMax Wilford?
‘Max was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 4. After 5 brain surgeries, a year and a half of chemotherapy, and 30 rounds of radiation, he is still fighting cancer, going to school every day and living a relatively normal 7-year-old life.’
The mantra of MaxLove Project is ‘Helping Superkids, thrive against the odds’. How do you help them thrive? What does MaxLove Project provide?
‘Thriving is all about kids and families living active, full, and healthy lives outside of the hospital. We focus on the things that families have control over: nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and sleep. We provide educational materials (which we produce with experts), cooking classes, individualized nutritional consultations with professionals, professionally guided support groups, sleep aids, as well as funding for acupuncture and massage.’
One of the missions is to empower families with evidence based, practical and kid-friendly nutrition. How is this achieved?
‘We provide educational materials that inform parents on why nutritional changes need to be made; we fund nutritional consultations for families so that they can set goals and plan according to their own unique situation; we hold cooking classes so that families can develop the skills to put these nutritional strategies into action; and we have an online support group monitored by a professional dietitian that allows parents to ask and answer questions and share success and setbacks.’
There has been lots of social media activity about MaxLove Project lately, which is really good. How did The Honest Company partnership start? What does this partnership mean to MaxLove Project?
‘After sharing a lot of mutual interests between Honest and MaxLove Project, the Honest Company decided to take it one step further and support us with this campaign during childhood cancer awareness month. It means the world to us. The funds go directly to supporting all of the programs here at MaxLove Project. And we couldn’t be prouder to have worked with such an amazing company that fully shares our values and mission.’
Only <4% of the US government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year. I guess this is why ‘The MaxLove Project Fund’ was founded? It is designed to advance understanding between human metabolism and childhood cancer! How important is the link between those 2?
‘Yes, it’s all part of the bigger picture of helping kids thrive. We want to fund research into how diet affects cancer outcomes. We believe that the link between metabolism and cancer is important for some tumors, but the research is far from conclusive. We need more, and that’s why we’ve started our fund through St. Baldricks.’
A fact: ‘Three of five pediatric cancer survivors suffer late-effects of treatment.’ – Those late effects include diabetes, secondary cancers,… Can those be ‘prevented’? How does MaxLove Project help?
‘We don’t know if they can be prevented. The research hasn’t been done. But because most of the late-effects resemble other chronic disease that can be managed or cured through lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.), there is a good chance that if kids are practicing optimal lifestyle medicine, their late effects will much less severe’
What is next for MaxLove Project? Initiatives?
‘We want to continue to grow our programs and connect them under a broader system we are calling the Thrive Protocol. This will be comprehensive set of programs and resources that will provide parents with the tools to use nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and stress management to give their kids the best possible chance in the face of these deadly illnesses.’
So far, MaxLove Project has quite a lot of projects. To name a few:
- The Healing Turtle Story, a therapeutic collaboration with cloud b.
- The MaxLove brand was created to be a sustainable funding source for MaxLove Project as well as other childhood cancer non-profits. They raise funds and awareness in a joyful, hopeful, and forward-looking way. They are at the beginning of a very long, very organic journey. For more information go to http://www.givemaxlove.org/pages/our-story
- The Loom Against Cancer movement. Some of you might have heard of ‘Rainbow loom’ before. It’s a popular toy amongst children. While Max was stuck in a hospital bed for days, he got a ‘Rainbow Loom’ and he was hooked. People united in his love for this craft and they donated their proceeds of Rainbow Loom sales to Max. MaxLove Project decided to unite with children and pediatric cancer organizations all over the world and loom for love. To find out more about this project go to: http://maxloveproject.org/event/
To learn more about MaxLove Project and to be part of the Thrive Evolution, you can check out their website http://maxloveproject.org/. We can all contribute by spreading the word about MaxLove Project. Follow them on twitter, facebook,…