WESTERLY, RI (WPRI) – Part of Dorian Murray’s endless charm was that he seemed to be unaware of his impact.
Plainville, Massachusetts author Nicole Cannella felt it, as her sister was hit with a cancer diagnosis. She saw the interview with Dorian on social media and was hooked.
“And I just thought it was beautiful and sad and wonderful all at the same time,” Cannella said. “He was so strong. I was drawn to his little face.”
Cannella contacted Dorian’s mother about writing a book to help children fight what Dorian fought since he was four.
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The eight-year-old, who captured the world with his guts, charm and the hashtag D-Strong, is the motivation behind Cannella’s Leaving a Mark, aimed at helping children deal with the very grown-up ordeal that cancer brings.
“I want every child who is facing cancer to have this book,” Cannella said. “All the royalties will go to some great non-profits involved with pediatric cancer.”
Those entities include Hasbro Children’s Hospital and The Dorian J. Murray Foundation, which was set up by Dorian’s parents.
Don’t be afraid. You can be a champion too. Always believe in yourself. And never give up.” Dorian Murray, from forward in Leaving a Mark
Dorian’s inspiring words from that January interview included this heartbreaker: “I’m just thinking before I go to heaven to try to be famous as much as I can.”
Cannella said after watching Dorian, she felt guided toward him and his family’s cause to bring awareness and funding to the pediatric cancer fight.
“I stopped and I watched,” she said. “And I loved his humor and his wit and candor.”
Humor from the question, why did he want to be famous? His answer was, “Cause then I can get lots of girls.”
Candor, when he was asked about how difficult it was to fight cancer.
“Everything we have to go through,” Dorian said. “It’s a lot to take.”
Then, there was his answer to a question about how strong he was.
“And he said, I am,” Cannella said. “Sort of the tiredness I think in his face. He sighed. It was sad, but that’s what cancer does. I still think he was strong.”.
This is the second children’s book for Cannella, who penned The Ribbit Exhibit which is about bullying.
The D-Strong movement impacted how quickly this book was published, according to Cannella. The first one took about 16 months from her first words to publication. This one, about six weeks, a fact Cannella said is hard to believe and inspiring on its own.
Woven into one stanza are Dorian’s words about how thousands of social media messages helped keep him going when he didn’t feel very strong.
“And on days that I cannot,” Cannella read from her book. “My mom or dad – they hold me tight and say my back they’ve got.”
Dorian had said, “It’s just really nice that so many people have my back for me.”
Cannella said the title “Leaving a Mark” has a double meaning. One, the mark that Dorian left on the world and the effort to fund pediatric cancer research better.
The other message from the title involves what cancer does to the body.
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“The bumps, the bruises,” Cannella said. “Losing your hair.” And as Dorian said, “The needles, the meds.”
When she finished the manuscript, she brought it to Dorian.
“I was a little intimidated,” she said. “Actually, that’s an understatement. I was very nervous to read a book about cancer to a child who’s staring it in the face.”
Dorian read it, about eleven days before he died. His mom wrote the afterword. Dorian wrote the foreword – that, like him, was wise beyond his years.
“And he said, Don’t be afraid. You can be a champion too. Always believe in yourself. And never give up.”Send your story ideas to Walt at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter:@StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.