September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (NCCAM). This is the ninth September that we knew about childhood cancer, but probably the eighth that we knew about NCCAM, doubtful we even knew during the September he was fighting. In each of those 8 or 9 years, another 16,000 moms, 16,000 dads, 64,000 grandparents, untold siblings and other family and friends became aware of childhood cancer - because they hear those words we all heard and will never forget: your child has cancer.
In each of the next 8 or 9 years, or 8 or 9 decades, the childhood cancer community, for better or for worse, will continue to grow, until we as a community (moms, dads, family, friends, organizations, government, docs, researchers, industry) can help piece together the puzzle that is curing childhood cancer.
For the worse, that means that about another 3,200 kids (16,000 x 20%) will die annually of childhood cancer here in the US. It’s the leading cause of death by disease for kids. For the worse, that means that of the 12,800 survivors, 2/3 will face long-term effects from the treatments that saved their lives. Worse, 20% of those survivors will ultimately die prematurely from the disease or side-effects. The statistics continue to be….simply unacceptable. The reality is that about 1/3 of the kids diagnosed will die prematurely. But these kids are NOT statistics, and we simply HAVE to do better.
For the betterment of the kids, each year, a large portion of those moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, friends and family are #SteppingUp, banding together, and demanding action. And each year it grows. Through the efforts of so many folks that are truly heroes (but would in turn ask you “What else could I do?”) buildings across the country and internationally are turning Gold, Governors and states are declaring September NCCAM, social media events and campaigns to #GoGold and #ShopGold are everywhere.
For the betterment of the kids, the growth of the Childhood Cancer Caucus has been another great demonstration of the success of the community’s efforts. Hyundai Hope on Wheels has been a wonderful leader and partner, helping the Caucus grow over time. The Coalition Against Childhood Cancer has grown from a simple, grassroots movement to being a leading organization demonstrating that collaboration does work. CAC2 and the Alliance for Childhood Cancer working together has yielded amazing results, the #StepUp campaign supporting the STAR Act is this year's joint effort. CureFest is another successful collaboration bringing hundreds of advocates and organizations together in DC. There are simply too many organizations contributing to the puzzle to list separately - just click CAC2 or the Alliance to view a list of some of them. One quick shout out to a group you won’t see listed, the 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave.
So many folks and organizations stepping up in their own unique way, each one an individual piece contributing to the big complex puzzle that is slowly but surely coming together and will, without a doubt, cure childhood cancer. It’s an honor to be a part of it.
The kids thank you.