What Good is Awareness?

Steve McKinionUncategorized2 Comments

September is childhood cancer awareness month. But it might as well be Greenland Independence Day for most people.

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Lachlan’s high school football coach said yesterday they will dedicate a Friday night in October for breast cancer awareness. I applaud it. While breast cancer gets more funding than all childhood cancers COMBINED I still support fighting this terrible disease.

But nothing for kids fighting cancer? No one asked to wear orange for childhood leukemia or gold pediatric cancer? No night to raise awareness for kids dying of cancer?

To be fair, the NFL only supports breast cancer awareness, not childhood cancer awareness, so it makes sense that high school teams would follow suit. And this wasn’t the coach’s idea, but a request from some players who really like wearing pink shoelaces, presumably because their professional heroes do.

But this helps explain why there has only been ONE NEW DRUG developed for all childhood cancers in the last thirty years, while breast cancer, and many other adult cancers, have treatment protocols that are shorter than childhood cancer protocols. And why new therapies are regularly emerging to save older people while hardly anything new emerges to help kids.

And what bothers me so much is that I was once blind to the needs of these kids. It took my own son’s diagnosis with leukemia to open my eyes to the suffering and death of little boys and girls.

A few years ago a high school senior at my son’s son died from leukemia. Still, I was blind. The soccer coach’s son fought leukemia. Still, I was blind. Not until my cousin’s son was diagnosed did I give a penny to help find cures.

And until Harrison was diagnosed, I was not a childhood cancer parent either. Until I had to live the life, I turned away from the bald, puffy-faced kid like most people do.

Having been forced to become aware of life in the childhood cancer community, I am shocked with what I have found.

Orange or gold shoelaces will never #curekidscancer. Recognition at a high school, college, or NFL football game will never save my son’s life.

But with awareness comes concern. And with concern comes action. And with action comes funding. And with funding comes life-saving cures. And with cures come kids who live to drive cars, graduate high school, get married, have kids.

So maybe awareness does save lives.

You can help by supporting organizations such as St. Baldricks, CURE search, and Alex Lemonade Stand, who actually fund research to fight childhood cancers.

in contrast, the American Cancer Society, with its annual Relay for Life, gives only a pittance to help save kids’ lives.

2 Comments on “What Good is Awareness?”

  1. Well said. Like you, we donated to the ACS every year and put our wallets away. Sometimes, we’d respond to a St. Jude mailing with a small check. Voila, did our part, right? HA! then my grandson was diagnosed and we saw how frustrated the pediatric oncology community is with the lack of information and knowledge available to them to help fight my grandson’s disease. There was confusion and differences of opinions between the doctors we consulted and the specialists they consulted about what treatment to recommend. How can this be??? Simple, unless it happens to your family, you don’t know. You think “someone” is taking care of the problem. Come to find out, the problem is huge and the response from our government and the pharmaceutical companies is pitiful to non-existent. Please keep plugging away, batting at windmills, writing good blogs like this one, and whatever else you have to do to raise the level of awareness across the world. Doing nothing is not an option. All the best to you and your family. Love, Ryan’s G’ma J.

    1. Grandma J.,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Pediatric cancer research is fragmented for a lot of reasons, but one certainly is lack of funding. And most families in the middle of the fight don’t have the influence to make changes. Somehow childhood cancer must go “mainstream” like the breast cancer community. Until then we will fight in our own little corners to help save kids lives. I have a blog post on this coming soon.

      Blessings to you and your family.

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