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If you don't have a child with cancer, then September is different
for you than it is for me. September is
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and its color is gold. I am the grieving mother of a daughter who
died of an aggressive brain tumor, so every month is Childhood Cancer Awareness
Chances are, you associate both the color pink and the month
of October with breast cancer. It's hard
not to, with corporations and sports teams having jumped on the pink bandwagon
years ago. Just this week I saw a pink
concrete mixer and garbage truck chugging down the street. I've often poked fun at the many companies that try to profit off such an important women's health issue. Pink silicone batter spoon, anyone?
The association with gold and cancer is less widely
recognized, just as children with cancer are less widely recognized. Up until March 23, 2007, I was guilty of that
myself. Bald kids with cancer were
something I would think about in the movie theater during the St. Jude's Thanks
and Giving campaign. Or in the spring,
when the American Cancer Society sells gold daffodils to raise money to give
sick kids in the hospital teddy bears.
As if kids living and dying with cancer need teddy bears.
Funding for prostate cancer (a disease associated with older men) receives more research funding from the government than ALL childhood cancers combined
Yeah, if it's not already obvious, September is hard for
me. It makes me weary and angry and
hopeful and sad, often all at the same time. Since 2011, I have devoted each September to telling the story of
childhood cancer using blogs, social media, the common refrain of "Please read
and share!" and relying on lots and lots of good will from strangers on the
My philosophy has been that if someone knows a child with
cancer, they will be moved to help a child with cancer. When something affects you personally, you want to
learn more about the facts. Here are
just a few from the Coalition
Against Childhood Cancer that might make your jaw drop:
1 in 285 children were diagnosed with cancer in
There has been an increase in childhood cancer
rates of 24 percent over the last 40 years
1 in 2 children diagnosed with a brain tumor
Cancer is the No. 1 killer of children
Only three drugs specific to pediatric cancer
have been developed since 1980, compared to hundreds for adult cancers
Funding for prostate cancer (a disease
associated with older men) receives more research funding from the government
than ALL childhood cancers combined
Yes, the statistics are alarming and, I hope, give you
pause. They still give me pause, and I've
been living with them for over eight years. As someone who has worked tirelessly as an advocate for children with
cancer, I am tired of fighting to raise awareness of these sickest of children. Many of my fellow cancer parents are, too,
but we keep doing it, because if we don't, no one else will.
Newsweek nailed it with their July story, "Children's
Cancer Is Unprofitable and Ignored." Oh, how I wish that were a headline from
The Onion, because it sounds so absurd. Alas, it is not. The truth of the matter is that
pharmaceutical companies do not invest dollars into research towards childhood cancer
because there is so little profit to be made. No return on their investment.
Does that make your stomach turn? I hope so.
And in the three minutes it took for you to read this post, somewhere in the world a child was diagnosed with cancer.
The families that are most impacted by childhood cancer are
the ones leading the charge to help others understand that September should
mean something different to you now. These same families who have buried a child or are now left to care for
a child that may look or act completely differently than the child they once
knew need your help.
This September, keep an eye out for the gold ribbon of
childhood cancer awareness. Know that
behind every child diagnosed with cancer, there is a family that is devastated,
regardless of the outcome, as the kids that survive often bear the scars of
their treatment. And in the three
minutes it took for you to read this post, somewhere in the world a child was
diagnosed with cancer. On March 23, 2007, that child was mine. Her name was Donna.
You can read Donna's Cancer Story HERE. Since 2013, I have catalogued 90 stories
of childhood cancer through The September Series that you can find HERE. After reading, please believe that you now
know a child with cancer. They need your