We don’t expect kids to hold a 9 to 5 job, balance checkbooks or grocery shop. These tasks are left to adults. We don’t treat kids like grownups because they simply aren’t adults yet — this should be no different when treating kids’ cancers.
Children with cancer aren’t little adults fighting adult cancers; they are kids fighting childhood cancers. Kids are unique, they are special and they are GOLD! Kids deserve to be treasured, and even more they deserve to have a childhood and future free of cancer.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is depicted by an iconic gold ribbon to symbolize kids’ value and uniqueness — just like the precious metal. During September, we will see this ribbon splashed across social media and sported by those affected by kids’ cancers. And they will not be alone; we want to scream from the rooftops that there’s a killer among our kids. We want people to know that worldwide a child is diagnosed every two minutes and that more children die of cancer in the United States than any other disease.
It’s inconceivable that, during the month of September alone, more than 25,000 kids will be diagnosed worldwide. However, knowing that there is a threat and taking action against it are two very different things.
The cancer moonshot initiative for 2020, a project announced in January 2016 by Vice President Joe Biden with the goal of finding cures for all cancers, has sparked vital conversations, propelled efforts and clearly defined a deadline to develop new treatments for the disease. The goal is to pool resources from multinational pharmaceutical and biotech companies, academic centers, oncologists and hematologists to bridge the gap and gain access to lifesaving agents, techniques and knowledge in the war against cancer.
This kind of collaboration is customary in childhood cancer research, but we’ve been waiting for a comparable effort in the wider cancer community so more patients will benefit. It’s a collaboration we need to get behind and do our part to support. Kids with cancer can’t wait for cures, and this is our chance to give kids a future without cancer; to grow up, get married, have more opportunities and experiences in life, and reach their full potential.
It is said that we can learn a lot from kids. The same is true for treating cancer. Much of what we know about treating adult cancers has been learned from childhood cancer research. Sadly, even with the existing knowledge base, less than 4 percent of all cancer research funding allotted by the federal government is solely dedicated to children.
We believe gold is of value and comes with a premium price tag — and so do our kids — but funding doesn’t reflect this. There are more than 100 forms of childhood cancers, but there is only one way to address them all — more research. And the only way to get more research, is to get more funding. I challenge each person to get involved and help close this funding gap.
Find an organization that welcomes volunteers and donations and will use yours to help children with cancer. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation welcomes you, and we’re not alone. Find an organization you trust and that resonates with you and lend your voice, your talents and your financial support.
You don’t have to wear a lab coat to be part of this effort; you just have to be willing to turn your time and attention to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. This September is the perfect opportunity to explore how you can be part of the solution and have a hand in the cure and treatment of childhood cancers. This is our chance to prove kids really are GOLD!