To the Editor:
What if I told you that you are going to have the most beautiful, perfect little baby boy or girl someday? They’re going to be so smart, have the brightest vibrant eyes that could light the night sky, a giggle that could turn the worst of evil good and a gift for athleticism.
Whoa, don’t get to excited, because they’re also going to have cancer and since there isn’t enough funding for research, they’re going to suffer through treatment for the possibility of living. They may also live without the possibility of treatment. Just when you think everything is going good, you hear the words, “There’s nothing more we can do for your child.” And that’s it. Would you start fighting now? It can happen to anybody, even you! (Adapted and author unknown)
Childhood cancer is not one disease; there are 16 major types of pediatric cancers and over 100 subtypes. The average five-year survival rate for all childhood cancers is 83 percent, please keep in mind, however, survival rates vary not only for the type of cancer, but also upon factors specific to each child! Sources vary, but half of all chemotherapies used are over 25 years old! This can’t be acceptable, but kids can’t vote and kids aren’t profitable. Yes, you did just read kids aren’t profitable in the eyes of some, they’re an expendable commodity. Imagine someone telling you your child was expendable what would you say? How would that make you feel?
Survival rates can range from as little as 0 percent for cancers such as DIPG, a type of brain cancer, to or as much as 90 percent for ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) a “specific” form of Leukemia. According to Cure Childhood Cancer in 2010, there were 379 cases of this cancer, 112 of those survived. Worldwide 100,000 children will die annually from all types of cancers!
About one in 530 young adults between the ages of 20 and 39 is a survivor of all types of childhood cancers. How is that for perspective? Seventy-four percent of childhood cancer survivors have chronic illness, and some 40 percent of cancer survivors have severe illnesses or die from such illness. Survivors are at a significant risk for secondary cancers later in life. Treatments can affect a child’s growth, endrocrine system, cognitive functioning/learning disabilities, permanent memory loss, hearing loss, heart failure, and immunity to name a few. This can translate into limited participation in school, social and work activities which can cause depression and feelings of isolation.
Whoever said that "winning isn’t everything” or “you don’t look sick” are phrases that roll off the tongue for some, but to the family living in the trenches hope/winning is all you have. Trying be “normal” and look “normal” is the name of the game because your new “normal” isn’t normal!
Although September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, for my family it’s also January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, October, November and December!
Jennifer Anne (McCabe) Weidner