Did you know that September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. While many people are aware of other important months in the calendar year, September flies largely under the radar. However, as the parent of a child who fought this deadly disease, I am not necessarily concerned about raising awareness during this month, but rather with raising awareness all year round.
As you may know, the case for finding a cure for childhood cancer is a compelling one, and one that is easy to sell when you are equipped with the facts. Here’s a good one - childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children under the age of 15 in the United States. It is the second overall killer only behind accidents. If that fact isn’t staggering enough, then how about this one, over 12,000 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.
It is hard to think about children with cancer, I know this all too well. When you look into the bright and playful eyes of a youngster, you cannot fathom that a sinister invader could be inside their tiny bodies. But it happens, and it happens more often than any of us would like to face. It happened to me, my daughter Alexandra “Alex” Scott was diagnosed with childhood cancer prior to her very first birthday and went on to fight it for the rest of her life.
Since that time, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of other children struggling through the same fight – the fight to save their lives. Like Alex, these children will face chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation treatments, and in the end, the cancer itself may be smarter than all these treatments put together. However, here is a statistic that sounds better – nearly 80% of children will survive their battle with childhood cancer. What this statistic doesn’t tell you is that long term, if not life long, side effects will follow.
If this doesn’t seem fair, that is because it isn’t. All cancer is horrible, and no one should have to face it, but there is absolutely no greater reason to help find a cure for childhood cancer than that these are children we are talking about. They are meant to live long lives, lives that they deserve. Sure there will be obstacles to overcome, as there is in any life, but cancer shouldn’t be one of them.
Let’s use September to raise the profile of childhood cancer awareness, but let’s also do this year-round. If you have the chance, volunteer at a Ronald McDonald House, or find another way to interact with children who have cancer. They will teach you a lot about life, their spirits and positive attitudes will change the way you look at the world. Let’s change their world too, by taking a stand against childhood cancer, and coming together to find a cure.
- Jay Scott, Alex's Father