WSB radio personalities talk to kids, raise money to fight cancer

Ansley Cochran is sitting with her hands stuffed into her skirt pockets, and she's swinging her feet, which don't quite reach the floor.

The 13-year-old is on the radio, and grinning ear-to-ear even though she's talking about a trauma that would terrorize any grownup.

Since age 2, she has lived with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops from nerve tissue. She's still alive because of the years of treatment and multiple surgeries she underwent at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

"I just love the place," she told her interviewer, Clark Howard, an Atlanta radio personality known more for penny-pinching advice than for touching interviews with children.

Howard and more than a half dozen colleagues at AM 750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB are soliciting their listeners Thursday and Friday to donate money to help children battle cancer.

The 37-hour Care-a-Thon has raised $8.4 million over the past nine years. The organizers hope that in this, the 10th year, they'll continue the recent trend of raising more than the prior year.

Last year, the around-the-clock call-in show brought in over $1.3 million. The money goes to the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service at the north Atlanta hospital. The money pays for research and helps defray the cost that families incur for specialists, social workers and drug therapies, said Suzy Scheiblin, a development officer for the center.

Beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday and running until 6 p.m. Friday, Howard and the others will be interviewing youthful cancer survivors like Ansley and bringing attention to the cause.

The girl had a tumor in her throat and spots on her lungs. She'll require constant visits to the hospital -- possibly for the rest of her life -- for monitoring to ensure the cancer doesn't spread, said her mother, Donna. "This is her way of life."

"But," Howard jumped in, "you said a key word: ‘life.'"

Later, Howard, 55, said he enjoys these interviews with youthful cancer survivors. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, but said that is "little league" compared to what Ansley and the other children have survived.

They are so upbeat and cheerful, he said. "In a world where so much is so negative, this is something that's so simple and so good."

The program is broadcast from the fourth floor of the hospital. In a nearby room, Herman Cain, another WSB personality, was awaiting his turn on the air. He's more accustomed to commenting about politics than interviewing children with cancer, but he said he was looking forward to it.

"These kids all have a great attitude," he said, "and that's one of the most amazing things about it."

He should know about the importance of attitude.

Cain, 64, said he was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer in 2006 and warned he had only a 30 percent chance of surviving five years. He told his doctor that he was determined to be among those that beat the disease and he's now cancer free.

Cain said the first fear of anyone who has a family member diagnosed with cancer is how the treatment will go. Then, when survival seems likely, comes a second wave of fear: how to pay for that treatment.

That is something the public can help with, he said.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Care-a-Thon had garnered nearly $314,000 in pledges. To donate, visit wsbradio.com or call 888-750-2772.