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Overcoming Cancer Through Play

Childhood cancer survivor Eric Newman was making money and having fun because he was expecting cancer to return. But a down turn in the economy made him reflect and ask God how he could bring hope to others. Eric became the founder of Roc Solid ... Read Transcript

When I was three years old, I was

diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer,


So I fought it, went to chemotherapy

for about two years, and got put into remission.

And then my dad's sister, second child, three years old,

was diagnosed with leukemia.

Her name was Shannon.

Shannon fought the battle, just like I did till she was five,

and got put into remission.

So you fast forward a little bit more,

Shannon, I believe she was close to 16,

we were going through high school, I'd just graduated.

Mom calls me and tells me that Shannon

had fallen out of remission.

Shannon passed away right around her 17th birthday.

And I'll never forget at that moment

when we laid her to rest, I just made

a decision I was going to work hard,

party hard, and play hard because I

believed that the cancer was going to come back and get me.

And I was traveling the world, big time surfer.

And I had everything that the world

said that I should have because that's what I had been chasing.

And in 2008, the economy kind of took a turn, and everything

that the world said that I should have,

the world wanted it back because I ran out of money.

So I did what any responsible businessman would do.

I drained my bank account and went to Costa Rica.

And when I was there, I just prayed for the very first time.

I was on a hammock on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

And I was like, man, what the heck am I supposed to be doing?

Why is all this happening?

In the journal, all that I did was write a word, hope.

That's the only word that would come,

and I just prayed, I said, God, I need some hope.

And help me bring hope.

And so came back, one of my buddies was like hey man,

why don't we throw a fundraiser for a local children's


So we did that, ended up raising close to $7,000.

And with me being a childhood cancer survivor,

they allowed me to take one of those large checks

and present it.

And as the elevator was getting ready to close,

another group of individuals got in.

And they had a big check too.

Lo and behold there's a huge grocery store.

Their check was for like, $1.3 million.

I was like, what the heck, man?

So I kind of threw the check off to the side.

And I went and sat in a little video game station.

I saw a little guy and started playing a video game with him.

And the mom came over and was like,

what are you doing here, why are you sitting next to my child?

And so for the very first time, I

spoke about the pediatric cancer, and she started to cry.

Then her husband came over, and she's like, tell him the story.

And then he started to cry.

They said that you give me and my husband

hope that my son will be sitting in your seat one day.

And at that moment, I knew that I was put here

for all the construction stuff that I went through,

the turmoil and that, and all the cancer

turmoil that I went through that, I needed

to marry those two together.

I ended up taking a couple of my buddies

out to an Italian restaurant.

I had to borrow the money from my parents to take them out

and just pitch the idea.

And one of them had just graduated from law school.

And he's like, I'll help you do it.

And so we filed the 501(c)(3 paperwork for Roc Solid,

and that went through the very first time.

Roc Solid Foundation is a nonprofit organization

that builds hope for children that are

dealing with pediatric cancer.

Easiest way to explain it is, kids 1 through 8,

we put a custom swing set in their backyard.

And 8 to 18, we go in and remodel their bedrooms.

So there are probably 225 projects

that we've been able to complete.

The most rewarding part of I think

what I get the opportunity to do,

when that child comes around the corner for the very first time,

and that look on the face, that's what hope looks like.

When that child's diagnosed with pediatric cancer,

one of the first things that stripped from them

is the ability to play.

To where they should be dreaming and thinking about pirate ships

and playgrounds, now everything is

replaced with hospital visits, needle pricks and chemos that

make you so sick that you can't stand it.

But for us, what we're able to do

is we bring play back into the equation.

And it's, you look at Papa Bear and then

he's looking at Mama Bear.

And for that moment, they're a normal family.


Even if it's for those three seconds,

that's why we do every single thing in Roc Solid Foundation.

It's not about Eric Newman, it's not about Roc Solid Foundation.

It's about bringing hope to a pretty desperate situation.

Really, I'm showing the love of Jesus,

and that I get to be able to sit down with them at their worst

moment of their entire life and just listen to them.

Cancer affects every walk of life.

And so what it does, it gives me the opportunity

to be the hands and feet of Christ in every situation


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