Written by: Holly Dutcher
Did you know that in 2016, 37 children were diagnosed with cancer or a brain tumor in Rochester alone? This year, over twenty children have been diagnosed with cancer or a brain tumor. Sadly, the Rochester community loses an average of 15 children annually to cancer. With tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart, I write these words. Hopefully, you’re reading this and thinking “but what can we do?” Awareness. September is childhood cancer awareness month. The awareness ribbon for pediatric cancer is gold, which is fitting because children are precious like gold. The Rochester community is rich in resources for families coping with pediatric cancer. Locally, we have many organizations to help families through their most difficult times:
- CURE Childhood Cancer Association
- Gilda’s Club Rochester
- Camp Good Days
- 13thirty Cancer Connect
- Anna’s Wish
- Annalise’s Friends
- Christopher’s Challenge
If you aren’t fortunate enough to be here in Rochester with a wealth of local orgs to support at your fingertips, you can look to national organizations like St. Baldrick’s, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish, the American Cancer Society and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. All of them exist to help families with some of their needs and also are leading the way in pediatric cancer research.
Childhood Cancer Facts & Figures
- Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. It’s the second leading cause of death (following accidents) in children ages 5-14.
- Every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. That’s 300,000 kids around the world every year. Learn more about this statistic >
- The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6. But you don’t have to be a child to be diagnosed with childhood cancer. Childhood cancer is diagnosed in all ages, from newborn infants to children and young adults.
- 80% of children diagnosed with cancer are in developing countries. Childhood cancer is a global problem, and one institution can’t solve it alone. That’s why we fund the very best research, no matter where it takes place.
- The most common childhood cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In the 1950s, almost every kid with ALL died. But today, thanks to childhood cancer research, about 90% of children with ALL will survive.
- In 80% of kids with cancer, the cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time it is diagnosed. That’s why so many children with cancer need to begin treatment right away. Many adult cancers can be diagnosed early.
- Much of what we know about treating adult cancers has been learned from childhood cancer research. Some aspects of cancer treatment today, such as combination chemotherapy, can be traced to pediatric cancer research.
- There are over a dozen types of childhood cancer and hundred of different subtypes. The more rare types, when added together, account for about 30% of cancers in children and adolescents. But because so few children are diagnosed with each type, it’s very difficult to do research on these cancers.
- One in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive. For the ones who do, the battle is never over.
- Add some gold embellishments to your home: Use yellow light bulbs in your front entrance way, or tie a gold ribbon around a tree at your house. If you purchase either on Amazon Smile, please take a minute and choose one of the organizations listed above so you can support their work financially as well as their mission!
- Add a lawn sign to your yard: CURE is selling lawn signs for $10 that read: “September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month”.
- Go for the Gold: There is no lack of races and events in the fall, especially in Rochester. Wear gold when you participate and ask others to as well!
- Add Gold to your wardrobe: It could be as simple as wearing gold jewelry, or you can go more bold – wear gold each day in September and let people ask about it!
- Hashtag it! Use the hashtag#gold4kidscancer when you post about Childhood Cancer Awareness.
- Looking for more ideas? The August edition of CURE’s monthly newsletter, you can find several ways to help paint the town gold and make a difference!
Why is awareness important? Personally, I feel that with increased awareness, organizations and researchers will receive increased support – with the ultimate hope of eradicating childhood cancer completely. Living in this tight-knit community, it makes sense to physically show your neighbors that you are behind them, support them and are thinking about them. Many times when a child is diagnosed, one or both parents take a medical leave of absence from work. Can you imagine your two-income-household moving to a one-income-household all while trying to care for your sick child (and possibly other children?) Our community needs us. I intend on showing local families who hear those deafening words “Your child has cancer” that my family and I are here for them. We will support them.
Will you join me?
Guest Blogger: Holly Dutcher
Holly joined CURE in April 2014 as Executive Director. A proud graduate of The Aquinas Institute of Rochester and Saint Bonaventure University, she is incredibly passionate about CURE and the families helped through the organization. Holly looks forward to leading CURE to the future and continuing the mission the original CURE families began 40 years ago.