"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Regarding Childhood Cancer from a Passionate Mother

I have written about my friend, Kim, who lost her eleven year old son to pediatric brain cancer in July. Kim is a breast cancer survivor and is currently battling colon cancer. She was in the final stages of treatment for breast cancer when Caleb was diagnosed. While she was in emergency surgery related to the colon cancer, Caleb slipped away. Here is a picture of Caleb taken on Father's Day:

Kim posted the following this morning and I would like to pass it along to anyone with a heart to understand it:

Preaching to the Choir

The end of September is approaching and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month has passed, largely unnoticed by society. The rush to shower us with pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month is reminiscent of the crowding away of pumpkins and scarecrows by Christmas trees and snowmen.

Except there's no pushing gold aside. The way is clear for pink.

Even the American Cancer Society -- the outfit that professes to represent all cancers and provide support for everyone affected by the disease -- the organization for which we all come together and raise funds by holding a Relay each year -- has chosen not to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Go to www.cancer.org and what do you see? The banner at the top of the page is pink and touts the ACS' commitment to fighting breast cancer.

Of course, I, among all people, am grateful for the focus of so many foundations and researchers on breast cancer. I know I wouldn't be looking at a future that is likely cancer free (or free of breast cancer, anyway) without the research and the focus on breast cancer during the past decade.

Still -- I'd rather have my son.

What if the focus that remains on breast cancer was turned to pediatric brain cancer?

I know millions of women are affected by breast cancer. But almost all of them are effectively treated.

Only thousands of kids are affected by brain cancer. But many -- perhaps most -- of them die.

This is so politically incorrect, I am hesitant to write it. But, as I write, I am without breasts and sans colon.

And one son short a full house.

If anyone can speak to this issue, I think I can.

I am grateful for the pink that signals the arrival of October in our day and time. I just wish there was a wave of gold -- more in terms of funding for research, but also in terms of awareness -- to usher in the pink.

If you are reading this, you know. You have traveled this tragic journey with us and you are aware of the impact of pediatric cancer on families.

Will you spread the word to someone who doesn't know today? Send an e-mail. Copy this to your blog, your faceook, your twitter. Write a letter to a corporation or a legislator. Or to an editor.

Christine Reid, a colleague and fellow OCU Law and Hatton Sumner alum is editor of the "Kingfisher Times and Free Press". She was astonished at the lack of attention given to childhood cancers and wrote a fabulous article on this subject earlier this month -- for which we are most grateful.

Here is an excerpt:

September is a disease awareness month, which you probably recognized by the gold ribbons displayed on all the corporate advertising on TV and in magazines and the special media reports.

What’s that? You haven’t seen any? That’s because, for some reason, this class of diseases attracts hardly any public attention.

If I said “pink ribbon,” you would have immediately thought of breast cancer. “Red ribbon” might be a little trickier, but eventually you would have come up with heart disease.

But the gold ribbon is nearly invisible.

It represents childhood cancers.

Today, as you read this, the equivalent of a classroom full of children will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., more than 12,400 a year. About 4,000 child cancer victims will die this year, making cancer the number one disease-related killer of children under 14.

While 75 percent of childhood cancer cases are curable, for some forms, a cure remains illusive.

Only one new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric use over the past two decades. For some of the rarest, but most deadly, childhood cancers, no new treatments have been introduced in more than three decades.

For every one child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS, 15 children are diagnosed with cancer, yet available funding dollars designated for research are vastly disproportionate: $595,000 for each AIDS victim and only $20,000 for each pediatric cancer victim.

Federal funding for breast cancer research is more than double that for all 12 major groups of pediatric cancer combined.

Those statistics are staggering, particularly here in Kingfisher County where we can superimpose the faces of so many amazing children over those raw numbers: Zach, Morgan, Colby, Logan and Shaelyn are just a few that come to mind.

Those portraits in courage, whose resilience and tenacity – sometimes against all odds – have inspired us all, make it even more important that our gold ribbons are not invisible this September.

For the full article: http://tinyurl.com/n64s4u

Note to my readers - I added the emphasis to the part about new drugs. I hope you will click on the link and read a little bit about Kim and Caleb.


Thanks for taking the time to read Kim's words.


ranette said...

Very eye opening post Penny. I had no idea that September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

I was stunned about the lack of new drugs to fight this disease. Seems to me that there are new drugs developed everyday to fight erectile dysfunction. Makes you wonder doesn't it?!

Shogun said...

Thank you very much for posting this. I am glad I read it.