It’s September! The leaves are starting to change, college football is in full swing, and pumpkin spice lattes are back (if you’re into that). But more importantly, September is also a big cancer awareness month--September is the awareness month for childhood, gynecological, leukemia/lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, and thyroid cancers. In this week’s post, we’re going to be focusing on Childhood Cancer.
If you’re a baseball fan, you may have noticed different players, coaches and reporters around the MLB wearing yellow ribbons. These are for childhood cancer awareness. Why is childhood cancer different from other cancers? And how can we join the fight? Childhood cancer, in the most broad sense, is any type of cancer that affects children. The most common childhood cancers are different from those that affect adults; childhood cancer is similar in that it is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. However, for children, these abnormalities come from their genetics, with little to no effect from environmental factors. And that is why we focus on Childhood Cancer this month: to give children a chance to reclaim their childhood from cancer.
The battle is far from over, but it’s part of our mission to celebrate how far we have come. This month, the CDC released new information about childhood cancer- some good, some bad. Brain cancer is now the number one cause of death amongst children and teens in the United States. Looking beyond this, however, we see that the reason brain cancer is the number one cause of death is because survival rates for leukemia, the previous leading cause, have risen significantly. In essence, the support and treatment has the ACS changing lives, with one cancer at a time. Additionally, the funding for new and alternate treatments has drastically changed the lives of those affected by cancer: compared to past decades, children diagnosed with cancer now have an 80% chance of surviving for 5 or more years, whereas the rate in the 1970s was 58%. This jump in survivorship is more than worthy of recognition, but know that the ACS’s track record shows that they will never stop fundraising and researching until there are no statistics such as these.
The American Cancer Society fights childhood cancer in several ways. The ACS provides information as well as services to those diagnosed. On their website alone (cancer.org), there are dozens of articles regarding childhood cancer, covering subjects that range from coping with diagnosis, to understanding pediatric oncology better, and even to returning to school after remission). ACS programs, like Road to Recovery, Hope Lodges, and Look Good Feel Better, are all available for childhood cancer patients. The Society also funds research and health programs aimed at helping children with cancer and their families. Lastly, ACS CAN advocates for laws and policies that increasing funding for research, help improve the quality of life for children that face cancer, and broaden health care access.
Curious how you can make a difference in the fight against Childhood Cancer? Here are a couple ideas to help you get started:
- Help spread awareness! Posts on social media work well, but don’t be afraid to also start a conversations with people.
- Wear gold to show support for families and patients of childhood cancer!
- Organize a letter drive (possibly for upcoming holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving) to deliver to a nearby cancer treatment center to show a child that we are fighting for them!
- Host an awareness/education event on campus for childhood cancer. There’s no better way to start off the Relay Year than a big cancer education/advocacy push!
- Join ACS CAN! For $10 you get a year long subscription to the Cancer Action Network which makes a real difference when it comes to laws and policies. There are a lot of ways you can become more involved with ACS CAN if you have the time/ability.
Thank you for tuning in to this week’s blog! The inspirational children and families we are spotlighting this month show that it’s our hope, not our hurts, that shape our future.