Recognize the voice in the commercial above?
Another National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month has come and gone, and as we look back, we can't help but ponder -- is the country more aware of the importance of fighting childhood cancer than they were before September came to pass?
As we have each year since inception, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation spent the month spreading the word about staggering statistics (childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children under the age of 15 in the United States), creating campaigns on social media (30 ways to join the battle in 30 days), and even took on grand athletic challenges (yes, I ran through the Grand Canyon), but after our voices are quieted, our twitter feeds still and our muscles heal, will more people join us on the journey toward a cure?
This is a question that has hung over our heads -- simply put, after National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, are more people aware of the children and their families facing childhood cancer each and every day? Though we have wondered, and perhaps even formed our own opinions, we never truly knew the answer to this burning question; until now. With the help of one of our newest sponsors Northwestern Mutual, a poll was commissioned to answer questions like, are Americans aware of the stat we referenced in the first paragraph? The answer was clear -- nearly half (49%!) of Americans are unaware that pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children.
Of course as everyone knows, with answers like these, only come more questions. Now we are assured we need to continue to raise awareness about childhood cancer in order to find the cures that the more than 12,000 children diagnosed with childhood cancer in this country need; but where do we start? As we leave September behind, we enter into the welcoming days of October -- a month that should be the poster child for an awareness month gone right. I think it's fair to say that if you haven't recognized October as Pinktober, as it is now referred to, then you simply have not been paying attention. News websites have added a pink ribbon to their headers, buildings are alit with pink lights, stores are full of pink products, and more than anything -- I'm pretty sure that the percentage of Americans who are aware that this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month is very high.
As we always have, we applaud the awareness campaign during the month of October and the hard work that it has taken to become the juggernaut that it is. Breast cancer is a serious disease, one that has affected my family in a large way, with a sister and sister-in-law successfully battling the disease and it taking the life of my mother. We are amazed to see the progress that has been made against this disease, and we only hope that the same progress can be made against childhood cancer. So here is yet another question for you: is it so too much to hope for the same "yellow-out" (like a blackout, get it?) in September?
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has been working diligently since 2005 (although technically longer since those years in our front yard selling lemonade) to fill the gaps to propel pediatric oncologists to the next level. Take for instance, our Bridge Grants, which are designed to literally keep the work of researchers alive until they can reapply for NIH funding. This is at the core of who we are -- even if we may not be able to provide the hundreds of millions of dollars that federal research does, we want to propel pediatric oncologists to achieve that very milestone. Maybe a YellowTember (that does not sound right!) is necessary, or maybe instead, we invite the nation to join us each and every day on this journey.
One final question for you -- if the country was more aware of childhood cancer after the awareness month, would they join us in the battle? Would you? I certainly hope so, and until we convince you to help find cures, we'll be here continuing the fight.
The blog above was originally posted in the Huffington Post on 10/10/12.