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Taylor Swift's rare public performance of "Ronan" Monday was an emotional one for her Arizona audience, which included the mom whose son inspired the song and succumbed to cancer in 2011.
That mom, Maya Thompson, watched from the packed stadium crowd as Swift dedicated the song to her and praised Thompson's Rockstar Ronan blog, which documented his cancer battle.
"I wouldn't know half as much as I know about childhood cancer and childhood cancer research if she hadn't shared her story about her son, Ronan," Swift told her audience.
Ronan, the youngest of Thompson's three sons, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma on Aug. 12, 2010, and died May 9, 2011 — three days before his 4th birthday, according to the Ronan Thompson Foundation.
Thompson's story and the song hold new meaning in light of the April cancer diagnosis of Swift's mother, Andrea Findlay.
"I've had cancer hit really close to me in my family," Swift told her audience Monday at Gila River Arena. "So, because Maya's right there, I would like you to give her a round of applause, please."
Swift then performed "Ronan," which credits Thompson as a co-writer and whose proceeds benefit the Ronan Thompson Foundation and other cancer charities, according to Time magazine.
Thompson's Instagram account, which has more than 20,000 followers, thanked the pop star soon thereafter.
"I still can't believe you did this," reads Thompson's caption, accompanying a clip of Swift's tribute. "This will forever be one of the most special moments of my life. Thank you @taylorswift for your beautiful heart and for never forgetting my Ro. I love you to the moon and back."
Thompson also posted a picture of herself and others with Swift, likely in a meet-and-greet setting.
"I love you," reads Thompson's photo caption. "You have my heart for the rest of my life and beyond."
Monday's performance perhaps marks just the second time Swift has sung the song at a major event. The seven-time Grammy Award winner also performed "Ronan" during a 2012 Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon.
Although Swift has made a point in recent years to brighten the days of cancer patients, she appeared to renew her dedication to the cause when she announced her mom's diagnosis. About a month after that announcement, Swift sympathized with a fan who'd grieved on Mother's Day, with the singer-songwriter noting, "You've lived through my worst fear." And in July, Swift donated $50,000 to an 11-year-old girl who'd been fighting the disease.
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