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MAKING A MARK: Pediatric cancer survivor shares advice for nonprofits

Eric Newman's life experience equipped him to help both cancer patients and nonprofits. In his book, What Hope Looks Like, he shares valuable life lessons.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Eric Newman said he does not waste time. That's because, at a very young age, he began to wonder how much time he had left.

"I was diagnosed at the age of three with hepatoblastoma, which is a very rare form of liver cancer," said Newman. "[Doctors] gave me a very slim chance of survival. They didn't know where the cancer had potentially spread."

Two years later, Newman was in remission. 

"I truly believe if I can beat cancer, there's nothing in this world that I can't do," said Newman.

But two of his cousins also fought pediatric cancer, and sadly they did not survive. That inspired him to launch the Roc Solid Foundation in 2009. The nonprofit has donated thousands of playsets and hospital-ready bags to kids fighting the disease.

"I had a journal, and I just picked the journal up and I wrote down a simple word-- hope-- on a piece of paper," said Newman. "This prison cell that I feel like cancer puts so people in, hope was the key that opened the cell... We can't change the fact that families have cancer, but what we can change is how they live with it."

Newman said he thinks outside the box to fulfill his nonprofit’s mission. Now, he’s helping other nonprofits do the same through his book, What Hope Looks Like.

"The people that are in the nonprofit world-- your mission is too important to become stagnant. Your mission is too important to go with the status quo," said Newman. "This book is designed to where you can start a nonprofit or start your business within three months if you follow this framework. And then, you get to your purpose, you get to your reason of existence-- and it's to love another human being."

Breaking the mold may not be easy, but Newman said there’s no better time to try to do it than now.

"People think it takes a long time to change the world. I don't believe so," said Newman. "Cancer was hard. But if I have pain and I want to turn it into a purpose, it cannot be that hard."

What Hope Looks Like is available on Amazon and other online retailers.

Visit the Roc Solid Foundation's website to learn more about the nonprofit.

Author's Note: The video below is on file from another Making A Mark story that aired on Jan. 13, 2022. It also highlighted a non-profit group that has been making a difference in Hampton Roads.

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