Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Mourning -- Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month!  Although nearly everyone can tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, very few people are aware of the significance of September. 

Until Hannah was diagnosed with cancer and we started spending a lot of time in the Hematology/Oncology clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital, I had no idea how many children were affected by cancer.  Absolutely no idea!  Honestly, I wish I didn't know.  Life was definitely easier before I was brought face-to-face with children with no hair or eyebrows, cheeks swollen from steroids, skin yellowed from chemotherapy. 

But I will say that the cancer-fighting children I've had the privilege to meet (or at least to follow through CaringBridge or other sites), are some of the most amazing kids I've ever known.  I've come to believe that God gives children who are fighting cancer a special absolutely shines out from them.  I don't really know how to describe it...but once you've seen it, you'll always recognize it. 

Lots of progress has been made in fighting childhood cancers.  Take a look at this data from St. Jude that shows Childhood Cancer Survival Rates (defined as survival of 5 years or greater based on national averages over the past 10 years):

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (cancer of the blood):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 4%; today -- 94%

Hodgkin Lymphona (cancer of lymph nodes):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 50%; today -- 90%

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (a malignant tumor):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 7%; today -- 85%

Retinoblastoma (cancer affecting eyes):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 75%; today -- 95%

Neuroblastoma (cancer of peripheral nervous tissue):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 10%; today -- 55%

Wilms Tumor (cancer of the kidney):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 50%; today -- 90%

Osteosarcoma (bone cancer):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 20%; today -- 65%

Rhabdomyosarcoma (solid tumor affecting muscle):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 30%; today -- 70%

Ewing Sarcoma (type of bone cancer):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 5%; today -- 65%

Medulloblastoma (type of brain tumor):  Survival rate in 1962 -- 10%; today -- 85%

Yes, progress has been made...but not enough.  If that were your child with the 55% or 65% survival rate group, would that be enough for you?  I can see the face of a precious child in my mind for nearly every one of these cancer types...multiple faces for several of them. 

How can you help?  You can always donate to St. Jude, or to Arkansas Children's Hospital.  But there's also an event coming up in Little Rock in October that you may want to be part of in some way.  It's called the CureSearch Walk, and it's coming up on Saturday, October 15th.  It will take place at Murray Park, and will run from 8:30 until noon.  Click here to donate or to register for the walk. 

You may have noticed that Hannah's cancer (glioblastoma) was not listed above.  That's because it's not considered a childhood cancer.  And I don't believe the survival rate for glioblastoma has changed much since 1962, hanging in there around 4%.  More about that in May, which is Brain Cancer Awareness month!  For now, let's put the focus on helping these kids!!


Anonymous said...

saw a commercial today that stated "41 children are diagnosed with cancer EVERY DAY". that just blew my mind! think of the children in your local elementary school... that's more students than 1 classroom EVERY DAY! for my elementary school, stats indicate that in just 3 weeks of school, every child would/could be diagnosed with some type of cancer. the numbers are way too high.

Unknown said...

Laurie, actually, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer everyday. That is why there is a group of moms called 46 Mama's. They shave their heads to raise money for research. My daughter is now 9 and she was diagnosed when she was 16 months old with a JPA and her tumor is a hypothalamic glioma. I am amazed at the grace she shows us and what God has shown us through her. cancer is just awful and I really don't wish this life we lead on anyone. I also wouldn't trade what we've learned about our family and ourselves spiritually either. Blessings to you!

The Sullivan Four said...

Erika...I'm so glad to hear that your daughter is doing so well. I actually know one of the 46 Mamas from last year...Dawn Talley. It's amazing how much God can teach us even through something as awful as cancer!