Every two minutes, a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. Every two minutes, thirty each hour, 720 each day. Tick Tock. Those numbers keep climbing.
Here in the United States, before the age of 20, one in 285 kids will be diagnosed with childhood cancer.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Not a topic that anyone likes to think about. There are problems in this world that are hard to put a face to. Starving children in a far off land…natural disaster victims…they all tug at our heartstrings but it’s not personal or real for us.
Childhood Cancer is real to our family, ever since one very bad day in July 1995. The sun was shining. All was right with the world. It was a good day, until it wasn’t.
Once you hear, “Your child has cancer,” the world never looks the same again, not even 24 years later. We share that jarring moment with thousands of other families, some of them in our own community, just down the road at Golisano Children’s Hospital, where they participate in life-saving childhood cancer treatment and research.
Which is why once each year in September, we use this space to shine light on the fact that kids get cancer. They and their families need your attention and your help.
Don’t let the name fool you, because childhood cancer strikes infants, children adolescents and young adults. Childhood cancer is NOT just like adult cancer in smaller people. There are over a dozen types of childhood cancer, plus lots of subtypes. Some childhood cancers are seen only in kids under 5, others mostly in teens, some only in babies. Please don’t turn away at that visual.
Childhood cancer has been seen as the poster child in the war on cancer. Survival rates for some types of leukemia are high, over 90%. But reality is that there are kids with cancer with a 0% chance. And the kicker, those kids who survive? By the time they reach age 45, over 95% of them will have a chronic health problem and 80% will have a severe or life-threatening condition as a result of their treatment. Childhood cancer is not a battle that has been won yet.
With research, someday, families facing that battle will have reason to hope that their child can look forward to a long and healthy life after treatment cures them. We’re not there yet. Until we are, we will continue to include this annual effort to beat the drum for childhood cancer awareness.
Kids get cancer. Don’t turn away from that. Help find a cure!
-Donate blood; become a marrow donor.
-Support Golisano Children’s Hospital, a member of Children’s Oncology Group, an international childhood cancer research organization. (disclosure: Missy volunteers with COG)
-Tell your federal representatives to fully fund childhood cancer research.
-Donate to cancer charities that are kid-specific, like St. Baldrick’s, CureSearch or Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
-Learn more at curesearch.org
Missy & Bob Layfield