September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This Saturday, September 13th, is Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. Of course, for me, every second of the last 2+ years has been Childhood Cancer Awareness Moment.
But it’s not about me. In fact, it’s about:
– 12,500: That’s the number of children newly diagnosed with cancer every year in the US, according to Curesearch . That’s 34 families a day that receive the worst news you could ever imagine (an I should know).
– 1 in 250: By 2010, that’s the number of adults that will be survivors of a pediatric cancer.
-The leading cause of death in youth under the age of 15: Brain Tumors.
Of course, although these numbers are tragic and heartbreaking, they do not match the number of adults that receive a cancer diagnosis in a given year. For that reason, many of the major “cancer advocacy” groups often talk about childhood cancer as an after-thought.
Well, it shouldn’t be. For kids who develop cancer, their survival often comes with a lifetime of future hardships and challenges that are unique. Childhood cancers impact patients and families in ways different than adult cancers. There are educational challenges that are yet to be fully understood — there are health insurance challenges that will plague childhood cancer survivors for years (or until the United States gets it together and decides to treat access to affordable, quality health care as the right of every American and not a luxury). These are just two examples, but there are more.
So, here are a few things to think about, know and do in recognition of this month/day/moment. Let your heart be your guide….
1. VOTE. Let this serve as my one comment on the current election season. Don’t vote for anyone who would not increase funding for cancer research — and make sure they include pediatric cancers specifically. Do vote for anyone what would ensure that every child with a cancer diagnosis has access to the best treatment possible, at a cost that will not bankrupt the family — or saddle a young child with a lifetime of debt they will inherit from their parents some day in the future.
2. GIVE. Whether it’s your local Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cancer Clinic or Research and Advocacy Organization, they all need your help. Or, the next time your local news runs a “human interest story” about some family going through pediatric cancer, write down the fund address that usually pops up at the end and send them a check — even $5 means a lot. Tell them Vampdaddy sent you.
3. Remember. Lately it has become quite “sexy” to talk about cancer. Between Lance Armstrong returning to cycling (ride on!) or this month’s Stand Up to Cancer event, the disease has become a media darling. Make sure that the glitz of the next Cancer Cause that gets tossed at you includes some conversation about kids with cancer. If it doesn’t, move on.
4. Eat at Chili’s on September 29th. I am the last person to advocate for fast food — and have not opted to use my blog as a venue to advertize. However, Chili’s restaurants is donating all of the profits they make on that day to the St. Jude Research Hospital. As it’s the only place around that not only provides treatment, but housing for families — all FREE OF CHARGE — they deserve some love. They are also treating patient’s with VB’s Cancer. My advice is to try the Blue Cheese Burger (with the Black Bean Burger substitute, for all you vegetarians out there).
5. By groceries at Stop and Shop. Of course, both #4 and #5 only apply if you live in an area where they exist — but Stop and Shop grocery stores provide huge amounts of funding to the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber in Boston — specifically their Brain Tumor Clinic Program. It also helps that they actually have a decently affordable line of organic goods. Yummy.
6. Vote. Yes, it’s so important that I said it twice.
Be back next week with something more amusing and less cancer-related…Promise…