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September Gold

August 31, 2013

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

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Do you have a minute? It’s a busy time of year, I know. You see, it’s September. So it’s busy. But it’s also September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that? If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you might remember me writing this post a year ago. Go ahead, click on the red link. I’ll wait.

Don’t have time? I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes. Ready?

Cancer sucks. It’s vicious, unforgiving, relentless and deadly. As if that weren’t already enough, children get cancer. Actually children get cancer quite a bit. And children die from cancer. Seven children will die from cancer today. This day that you are reading this. Seven precious perfect children will leave this earth because of cancer.

Here are some troubling statistics:

• Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents in the United States. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
• Each year in the United States, approximately 13,500 children and adolescents 18 and under are diagnosed with cancer, that’s more than a classroom of kids a day. (Sources: Center for Disease Control and Children’s Oncology Group)
• One out of every 300 males and one out of every 333 females in America will develop cancer before their 20th birthday. (Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology)
• More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year. (Source: CureSearch)
• Approximately 20 percent of all children with cancer will die from their disease, a secondary cancer, or complications from treatment. (National Cancer Institute)
• The causes of most pediatric cancers remain a mystery and cannot be prevented. (American Cancer Society)
• Childhood cancer does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class or geographic region. (Source: Centers for Disease Control data)
• About one in 500 young adults is a childhood cancer survivor. Nearly 2/3 of the survivors later experience significant and chronic medical problems or develop secondary cancers as adults that result from the treatment of their original cancer. (Source: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital)
• Incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
• In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only one drug for any childhood cancer. (Source: Kids V. Cancer)
•The average age of death for a child with cancer is 8, causing a childhood cancer victim to lose 69 years of expected life years; a significant loss of productivity to society. (Source: Kids V. Cancer)
•Childhood cancer survivors are at significant risk for secondary cancers later in life. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
•Cancer treatments can affect a child’s growth, fertility, and endocrine system. Child survivors may be permanently immunologically suppressed. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
•Radiation to a child’s brain can significantly damage cognitive function, or if radiation is given at a very young age, limiting the ability to read, do basic math, tell time or even talk. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
•Physical and neurocognitive disabilities resulting from treatment may prevent childhood cancer survivors from fully participating in school, social activities and eventually work, which can cause depression and feelings of isolation. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
From The Truth 365 (please click on the red link for more information)

But we can fix this. Together, we can do something about this. It all starts with raising some much needed awareness. As special needs parents, autism moms and dads, parents of children with rare diseases or unnamed diseases, we know better than most what awareness can do. It raises money and it raises the pressure on the powers that be to do more: To put more funding and more effort into research; To find new treatments and ultimately to find a cure.

And as special needs parents, we are in a unique position in that we are well-equipped to help out on this one. We are constantly raising awareness and advocating for our own kids. We are good at this. We know that distinct sting of isolation that comes with our unique brand of parenting all too well. But we also know quite clearly that feeling of connection we get when we see another special needs mom or dad, that feeling of support we crave when we get an understanding smile or we feel the support of a community lifting us up, whether it be a blue light or an autism self-advocacy symbol, or a green ribbon for mitochondrial disease awareness. It means something to us.

In the early days of Christianity, believers wore a small symbol of a fish, as a sign to recognize each other. During the days of the Underground Railroad, houses that were sympathetic to the cause and willing to offer shelter to those on the journey would light a candle in their window.

That’s what the blue lights mean. That’s what the puzzle pieces are. It’s a sign that says to those of us on the journey,
“I get it.”
“Me too.”
“You are welcome here.”
From my own post, Community

So what can you do?

Wear some gold. Go to the fabric store or the craft store and pick up some gold ribbon and a safety pin. Wear it. Put it on your purse, you kid’s backpack, your shirt, wherever you like. If you have some extra, hand it out to your friends, your coworkers, your church. Wear it. That’s all. And when someone asks you why you’re wearing it, tell them. Pretty simple, right? But if you happen to be passed by a family member of one of the 40,000 children being treated for cancer right now, they will see it. And it might just give them a boost. It might just make them feel a little less alone.

20130831-140704.jpg If you feel like donating some cash, here are some great places to consider:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Red Dog Fund

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2013 8:01 pm

    I just stopped by and just wanted to say that I admire your passion to spread awareness. I had a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance -emilywalsh688 (at) gmail.com- Thanks : )

    Emmy

    • October 1, 2013 11:50 pm

      Hi Emmy. Thanks for stopping by. Email sent. 🙂

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