At the 1989 tour’s stop in Glendale, Ariz., Taylor Swift performed her heart-wrenching song, “Ronan” for the first time on the tour. She wrote the ballad in 2012, using lyrics from blog posts written by a woman named Maya Thompson, whose son Ronan died of cancer.
This performance was extra special not only because Swift’s mother has been battling cancer, but also because Thompson herself was in the audience. “There’s a woman here tonight named Maya Thompson,” Swift says to the crowd, in the video below. “… and 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 hadn’t played the song live since September 2012, when she played it at Stand Up to Cancer’s telethon.
During the show, she credited Thompson’s blog for helping her understand her own family’s struggle with cancer: “… In it was this account of what it was like to watch cancer take over my life. And since then, I’ve had cancer hit really close to me in my family. So because Maya’s right there, I would like you to give her a round of applause, please.”
Thompson posted about the event on Instagram, writing, “I still can’t believe tonight. I still can’t believe you did this. 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.”