Raising Awareness Of Childhood Cancer
Many people know someone who has or had cancer at one point in their lives. Because it’s such a terrible, debilitating disease, it’s tragic when a child is diagnosed. Unfortunately, an estimated 15,780 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer each year, and a quarter of them don’t survive.
In the process, families are often torn apart and completely flipped upside down. That’s why Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was organized: to shine a spotlight on the different types of pediatric cancers, celebrate survivors, and remember the young lives lost to the heartbreaking disease. This month is also a time that families and charities work hard to raise funds to support cancer research and families.
Even today, no one quite understands what causes pediatric cancer. However, doctors and scientists have discovered new treatments to better combat the disease. For example, in recent decades, doctors and scientists have been able to improve the five-year survival rate from 50 percent to 80 percent. Today, more and more children are surviving childhood cancer, like Amber.
Amber is a 2-year-old cancer patient. After her parents grew concerned about what they thought was a lazy eye, they took her to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. That means she had tumors in both her eyes. Aggressive treatment started soon after the diagnosis near her North Carolina home. However, she was later referred to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York because the hospital had more effective treatments for her particular type of cancer.
Despite the treatment at the New York hospital being successful, Amber’s doctors still recommended removing her right eye, which she could no longer see out of. Her parents agreed, and from there, she and her family embarked on trips from North Carolina to New York every five weeks to monitor the other eye, since there were still five tumors in it. Fortunately, by the end of the treatment plan, only one tumor was left. Today, Amber and her family only have to travel to New York twice a year to monitor the last remaining tumor and to keep a look out for new tumor growth.
Like many families battling childhood cancer, costs began piling up for Amber’s family. However, thanks to the National Childhood Cancer Society, Amber’s parents received help covering their frequent travel expenses back and forth to New York so that Amber can continue receiving the best care possible.
Stories like Amber’s show that there is still hope. There is a lot that still needs to be done before we can fully understand and eradicate childhood cancer. To make that dream a reality, advances in treatment therapies and research are needed, which will only be possible by raising awareness and funds. As a nurse, does your office take part in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
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