Symptoms lead to the doctor. A tangled search begins. A shocking diagnosis sends a family into an unexpected fight. There are few answers and few options.
A family has to move forward with treatment that has unimaginable side effects. There are surgeries, transplants, chemotherapy, radiation, scans, labs, ER visits and more....The whole family is affected.
After enduring the process of treatment, the family faces long term side effects not only from the disease, but also from the treatment itself. Parts of childhood are forever lost and the future is unknown.
We strive to always be moving for progress so more kids can have more effective, less harsh treatments, hopes for cures, and support of late and long term effects as survivors.
Less than 4% of US national cancer funding goes to childhood cancer because statistically, older age groups are more affected by cancer. Work by foundations like ours is essential
to get research for childhood cancer to higher levels of funding.
When you save a child from cancer, you save a lifetime... on average, 70 years.
The incidence of childhood cancer is on the increase, up 24% over the last 40 years. There are over 12 major types and over 100 subtypes.
The average age of diagnosis is 8 (age 5 for children, 17 for adolescents), compared to adult cancer average age of 68. There are 70 potential life years lost when a child dies of cancer.
For many of these cancers, there is no explanation of why the cancer is caused. The families are told not to ask 'why?' Grief, depression and post traumatic stress are reported in children and family members who are affected by childhood cancer.
Childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children.
Survival rates vary by disease. Those who survive the five year mark, have an eight time greater mortality rate due to the increased risk for health and liver disease and reoccurrence for secondary cancer. More than 95% will have a significant health issue by age 45, commonly due to treatment.
Only 4% of the budget for the National Cancer Institute goes to ALL Childhood Cancer. Since 1980, only three drugs have been approved for first use in children. This compares to 182 for adults. *credit to Coalition Against Childhood Cancer
Kids will surprise you with how they think. If they know someone with cancer they may have a lot of questions. If they don't it may be too abstract. Play therapy (like playing doctor) can help them understand. Understanding how healthy bodies work is a good start. Use words like 'sick cells' and 'healthy cells' rather than bad and good.
Also, make sure they know that childhood cancer is not anyone's fault. What we do, say and think cannot cause someone to get cancer. It is also important for them to know you cannot catch cancer (it is not contagious) from someone else.
Use a concept they understand to make it relatable. For example, immunity fluctuations can be described using animals. Very low immunity could be represented by a butterfly, and so on. Explain that a child might need to wear a mask for protection.
Explaining that medicine can make patients feel bad can be confusing. We describe it as powerful medicine. A child with cancer likely has a central venous line which can be internal or external and is used to infuse medicines. We explain things as truthfully and clearly as possible.
Cancer does not discriminate. No one knows this will happen to them. These children are like other children, trying to play and live life. They are strong. They endure a lot. We want to celebrate their strength through Play. We want to raise funds for research to make their futures brighter.