This is hard to write today, and I bet it will make a lot of you uncomfortable, and until recently, I will absolutely admit, it was a hard subject to discuss without it affecting me emotionally and mentally, and sometimes even physically. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and as we sit here on the last day of this month, let’s not go into October and the rest of our months ahead forgetting about this subject . . . let’s always have it on our minds that we can help bring awareness to this every day! A small or big impact is still an effort to help people truly know how this affects families all over the world.
“Your child has cancer”
How many parents have heard these scary words? One, one hundred, one thousand . . . I am going to tell you it is in the millions! It is a very sad statistic that most of us do not want to hear or face. The truth is, we really don’t know all of the facts behind childhood cancer so let me share with you . . . and please keep reading, even if you’re uncomfortable . . . these kids deserve our undivided attention.
Childhood cancer affects all children; it does not matter your race, gender, socioeconomic status . . . it affects EVERYONE! This is a very sad truth, and one that we need to open our eyes to! It isn’t a “choose one kind of child” kind of cancer . . . it is definitely affecting every child. And it is nearly impossible to prevent . . . and I am going to be blunt right now, but I am going to ask for anyone to refrain from commenting that one carrot juice, or one vitamin, or one day in the sun, or anything for that matter, will help prevent or cure cancer! It is not that you are not entitled to your opinion; it is that I have friends who have dealt with or are still dealing with their little ones fighting the battle of their lives, and these sort of comments sting . . . do we not actually believe that if there were an absolutely one hundred percent miracle carrot juice, it would be given to every child and every parent would be sure of doing that? Sooooo I say this with the most respect, please do not comment on prevention, treatments or cures . . . I know that every parent will do what is right for their child, from the strength they have and with the love in their hearts!
The numbers . . . can we talk about these numbers . . .
1600 CANADIAN CHILDREN ARE DIAGNOSED EACH YEAR
1 OUT OF 5 WILL NOT SURVIVE THEIR DIAGNOSIS
1 OUT OF 3 WILL NOT LIVE OUT A NORMAL LIFESPAN
95% OF SURVIVORS WILL HAVE CHRONIC HEALTH PROBLEMS
THERE IS A 29% INCREASE IN INVASIVE PAEDIATRIC CANCERS IN THE LAST 20 YEARS
4% OF GOVERNMENT CANCER RESEARCH DOLLARS GO TO CHILDHOOD CANCER
2 DRUGS ARE APPROVED FOR THE TREATMENT OF CHILDHOOD CANCER IN THE PAST 20 YEARS
Let all of that sink in. Can you even process that 4% of government cancer research dollars go to childhood cancer . . . only 4%? How is this even okay? How are we not giving more? These little ones are our future, and I believe that we need to fight for more money, more research, so that we can make sure that what these beautiful little beings go through will not keep happening! Do you know that in 6 years, 77 new drugs for adult cancers have been introduced and in 77 years, only 3 new drugs for childhood cancers? (This information was taken from Solving Kids Cancer). How is this okay? How is this happening? 77 years? 3 drugs? My heart literally sank when I read these statistics!
Now the hard numbers to read . . . hold your heart for this one . . . 46 kids are diagnosed each day, that is 2 every hour. Every time you sit down on your comfy couch to watch an episode of your favourite comedy show, the opening credits would scream “Your child has cancer” and the ending credits would shout “Your child has cancer”. Could you imagine that? No, I couldn’t either but it is a reality and factual and something that we do need to embrace and bring so much more awareness to! Clearly, childhood cancer research is completely underfunded and it is needed more than 4%! Every day, every hour, there are children dying of cancer around this world, and we have just given 4%??? I don’t want to see another child lose their life to cancer because there isn’t enough awareness or funding! We need to keep the awareness going, and there is one person who I am grateful and proud to call my friend, that I believe is bringing this to the forefront of everyone and will definitely change that number!
Kathleen Head is a friend, and a fierce hard loving momma! Her little boy, Mitch, is fighting a battle with leukaemia. He is a brave little fighter, with the cutest smile, and cheeriest of personalities! He has just started kindergarten, and let me tell you, he is a hero in all of our eyes! He still has a battle ahead of him for the next two years, and his strength is pushing him through! We just honoured Terry Fox, and did our annual school wide run to keep Terry Fox’s memory and dream alive, and let me tell you, there were many people honouring our little hero Mitch! Each student was given a colouring page with a “runner” on it to represent the run and miles Terry Fox ran to raise awareness for cancer . . . and students are able to write a name of someone they are running for on this shoe. What a heart filled moment it was to walk down the hallway and see these beautifully coloured pages on the wall, with the majority of the students choosing to write Mitch’s name on their shoes! Wow, just wow! Kathleen is bringing these statistics to the forefront, and raising awareness for all of us to know that we can make a difference! We can be the change to these numbers!
It is in every school, in every neighbourhood, in every community, in every home . . . childhood cancer is present! Look at Mitch’s face . . . please remember his fight, and let it be a reminder that we can make the difference of supporting the awareness that needs to happen in order for these numbers to change. If you know of a family who is being affected by childhood cancer, look at their little ones and remember you can change the numbers! As a community, as a city, as a province, as a country, let’s not let the number stay at 4% . . . let’s move that darn number and get these kids their health and childhood back!
How can I help?
You may be asking this question . . . and I thank you from the bottom of my heart if you are!!! There are many ways you can help . . .
- Donate blood! The shortage of blood is at an extreme high right now, and we need more donations than ever! If you’re a viable candidate, please donate; we need you to! You can click here to find out how you can make a difference!
- Write to your political leader! This can be so impactful . . . it takes a wee bit of time to write to your leaders, and I promise one voice or many voices can be heard and change so many things! Click here to find out more information on who your elected official is.
- Donate to childhood cancer charities! Gaby Davis Foundation is amazing; it has helped so many families dealing with children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Another great place to donate is Tour de Coast; police officers and emergency personnel bike for two weeks to raise awareness and money for cancer! Other great places to donate are Balding for Dollars and Peds Oncology. Please click on any of these incredible links to donate or learn how to get involved!
- Wear a yellow ribbon! Someone may very well see you wearing a yellow ribbon and know what it means, or might not, and that just may open up a conversation and bring awareness! A small little yellow ribbon can definitely help!
- Do a charity drive or organize a pub night! You can raise money yourself, and choose which charity to donate to! Get a few friends and/or families and organize a charity drive or a pub night! A day filled with fun or a night filled with friends goes a long way in helping out these kids and charities!
Let’s all of us try to change that 4% . . . it takes a village for one child, so let’s take the world for all the kids who have been diagnosed! We can change it . . . we can do it!!!
Ultimately, people need to face reality. Childhood cancer exists. It’s ugly, sad and uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be swept under the rug.” Kathleen Head
Those powerful words will forever remain embedded in my mind. I am the first to admit when I saw the hashtag “#morethanfour” I had no idea what it meant . . . well I do now, and I am grateful to Kathleen for raising so much awareness to this ugly and sad, and definitely uncomfortable subject of childhood cancer. It is reality . . . and a reality that we can change . . . so let’s do it for Mitch, and for all those brave little heroes so we can see their smiles shine brighter and brighter in this amazing world!
Love love love, LC