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‘Don’t give up the fight, life is your right’

Nick Snow’s young life was defined through a lyric from one of his heroes, Bob Marley.

In his famous revolutionary tune “Get Up, Stand Up,” Marley articulated the phrases the Nevada Union High School sophomore leaned on until he died in April from an intestinal infection after a 10-year bout with cancer.

Those lyrics were: “Don’t give up the fight, life is your right.”



From all accounts he did just that, taking his dream to get hospice care for disease-ridden children before they become terminal all the way to the halls of Washington, D.C. and Sacramento.

In the nation’s capitol, he spoke before a Senate subcommittee and lobbied Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. That did not result in federal law.




However, Assembly Bill 1745 with Nick’s message is now winding its way through the California legislature in hopes of passage. His mother, Shannon Snow, will speak before a health subcommittee for the bill in early June.

Before his family moved to the San Juan Ridge, Nick was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare and generally fatal cancer – and eventually was told he would die. He received hospice care with a nurse, social worker, chaplain and others helping the family.

But to Nick, 16 years old when he died, that seemed odd.

In an article he wrote for Your Child’s Health, the magazine for the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Nick explained why he thought youths with life-threatening diseases should get hospice-like care right away.

“It seems kind of strange that they would only come when I was ‘dying’ and not when my family and I really needed it most, like when I was going through all the hard (chemotherapy) treatment,” Nick wrote. “But when I decided that I felt better enough to try a new treatment, hospice couldn’t come anymore. That was hard on all of us – to lose support just because I wanted to try to live.”

Experimental treatments put Nick’s cancer into remission twice and normal hospice services on the sidelines.

“My big claim to fame is that I think I hold the world record for flunking hospice. I officially flunked hospice twice,” he wrote.

According to Nick’s mother, “He wanted children to have a hospice team at diagnosis so families can have a coordinator for insurance, appointments and information. It’s more gentle than bringing them in at the last minute.”

Unique individual

Nick Snow was not just a young man battling cancer. According to his friends, he was one of a kind.

Fellow cancer survivor and Nevada Union baseball player Billy McElwain said, “Nick was one of those people you just got a warm vibe from. He always had a positive outlook and he was going through immense pain (caused by cerebral palsy) but he never complained at all.”

McElwain said Nick was “tremendous at dancing and music,” and he won the NU Unplugged competition for his drumming accompanied by piano. “He won it before he passed.”

NU math teacher Sue Crockett said, “I’m the teacher, but he taught me that life is grand and worth the fight. He was one of those souls you only get to meet a couple times in your life.

“He was fighter about everything in a positive way,” Crockett said. “He came to school every day in pain. That’s what his life was all about ever since he was born, fighting pain and getting through things.”

NU student Tammy Coil created a shrine out of Nick’s locker, filling it with the Skittles candy he loved and other mementos. She is also selling T-shirts to get donations for the cancer researcher who is looking into neuroblastoma.

“I did it because I wanted people to know how great a person he was, and we don’t want to forget about him,” Coil said. “He was very different, always upbeat, and if he was having a bad day he didn’t let it get to him. I knew he was hurting, but other people thought he was just happy all the time.”

Coil and her friends will hold a car wash for the neuroblastoma researcher Saturday at the Shell station at the corner of East Main Street and Hughes Road in Grass Valley.

According to his mother, Nick’s second dream beyond the hospice changes was finding a cure for his cancer. That is why he found Dr. Pat Reynolds, the aforementioned neuroblastoma researcher who toils in a laboratory at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

The money Coil earns will go to Reynolds’ efforts, as will all proceeds from a CD Nick made along with his father, Shelby Snow, a professional bass player.

“It’s actually good,” Shelby Snow said. “It’s not just some child on a trap set. I’m going to do whatever I can do to keep Nick’s ideas going.”

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To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

Keeping Nick’s causes alive

Nick Snow had two dreams, to find a cure for the neuroblastoma he had, and to pass legislation to get hospice services for children before they are deemed terminal.

Nick created a CD of his music to sell so that people could donate to the Los Angeles based researcher looking into neuroblastoma.

You can send a $15 check or money order for a copy of it to: Snow, P.O. Box 2552, Nevada City, CA, 95959. All of that money will go to the research, as his family is picking up the costs of production and distribution.

You can also donate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday by getting your car washed by his friends at the Shell station at the corner of East Main Street and Hughes Road in Grass Valley.

To learn how to fight for the altered hospice law, log on to childrenshospice.org and click on the item in the purple box on the right that says “Take action for children.”

To learn more about Nick, log on to nicksnow.com.

– Dave Moller


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