September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. For me, every day is “childhood cancer awareness day.” There’s no denying the impact that my little girl’s leukemia has had on my family’s life. (I’ve already written about Audrey’s diagnosis and shared a slideshow that tells the story of her first year of cancer treatment.)
Audrey’s glorious smile and resilience continue to amaze me, but I can’t un-know the things I know-the things I wish I didn’t have to know. I know the needle length that works best with my daughter’s port; I can tell, just by looking at her, when her hemoglobin and platelets counts are too low; I know I should start packing our bags for the hospital when her ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is low and her temperature hits 101.5; I know that she must be pre-treated with Tylenol, Benadryl, and Hydrocortisone before receiving blood or platelets transfusions; I know that if Audrey ever has to have vincristine three weeks in a row again, there’s a good chance she’ll experience severe nerve pain and won’t be able to walk for a week and may even have another seizure.
Childhood Cancer Facts
There are thousands of parents just like me all over the world. Parents who’ve watched their children endure horrific procedures and experience devastating side effects from cancer treatments.
In the United States, approximately one in every 330 children will develop cancer before the age of 20. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients. Cancer kills more children than any other disease, more than pediatric AIDS, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and asthma combined. Yet pediatric AIDS receives four times the funding that childhood cancer receives. (Statistics taken from MagicWater.org and Children’s Cancer Fund of America.)
Watch Jeff Foxworthy’s public service announcement for CureChildhoodCancer.org here. Did you hear him say that “less than 2% of federal funding for cancer goes to solving childhood cancers”?
Where does Oprah Winfrey fit in?
How do I expect Oprah to help children with cancer? Well, I can’t take credit for this idea, but I can share a very special Facebook page with all of my readers.
“Oprah Please Do a Show on Childhood Cancer – Our Kids Need Your Help“ has a “plain and simple” mission: “We’re hoping that Oprah, during her last season on air, will do a show on some of the heroes who are currently fighting and some who have lost the fight with [childhood cancer]. The world needs to hear about their courage, their fight, their families and their lack of treatment options because of the lack of funding and awareness. In doing this, we’re hoping that a light can finally be shone on something that needs to be seen!…If Facebook can get Betty White to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ – let’s see if it can get Oprah to spotlight childhood cancer!”
Sounds good to me! If Oprah pays attention to childhood cancer, so will her millions of fans. Our children deserve gentler, more effective cancer treatments and cures. It will cost you nothing to visit the “Oprah Please Do a Show on Childhood Cancer” page on Facebook. The wall is packed with posts from friends and parents of children with cancer; many posts tell the stories of brave children who didn’t survive.
In honor of our young angels and heroes, please click “Like” and share the page with all your Facebook and Twitter friends. Together, let’s convince one of the world’s most influential celebrities to speak on behalf of all the families affected by childhood cancer.
I’m not as “loud” as Oprah, but I’ll continue to share my daughter’s story with everyone who will listen. Thank you for supporting childhood cancer awareness this September, and every day of the year.
There are numerous organizations devoted to helping children with cancer and their families. Here are two of my personal favorites:
SuperSibs! is an awesome organization that supports the siblings of childhood cancer patients. My 8-year-old son loves his SuperSibs! trophy and always looks forward to SuperSibs! packages in the mail.
CureSearch “unites the world’s largest childhood cancer research organization, the Children’s Oncology Group, and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation through our mission to cure childhood cancer. Research is the key to the cure.” When my daughter was first diagnosed with leukemia, our nurse practitioner recommended the CureSearch website above all others.
Easy ways to support a cure for childhood cancers:
Eat at your local Chili’s on September 27, when 100% of profits will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Or “create a pepper” online right now. Learn more about Chili’s Create-a-Pepper (to fight childhood cancer) program here.
Wear a gold ribbon, the symbol for childhood cancer awareness.
Visit the “Oprah Please Do a Show on Childhood Cancer” Facebook page, click “Like” and share it with your friends. It’ll only take a minute.
Visit the website of your local children’s hospital to find out what you can do to help childhood cancer patients in your community.
Hope, pray, and believe that we can cure childhood cancers.