Four Cents: Awareness for Childhood Cancer

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September is childhood cancer awareness month, background with ribbon

Shyler Yost

While many people associate fall with the crackle of leaves underfoot, the scent of cider, and favorite autumn activities such as corn mazes and apple picking, I associate fall with something different. For me, fall marks childhood cancer awareness. September is the month to go gold!

Raising awareness for childhood cancer has mattered to me for years. In late 2013, my little brother, Holden, had a sudden change in his health. He began to develop headaches, feeling them in his neck. He felt nauseous frequently as well. Nobody in my family had ever experienced something like this, and Holden was not showing symptoms of a common cold.

We thought that these health issues would only be present once- but they kept coming back. My parents decided to take Holden to the hospital to see if they could find the root of what was going on. We later learned that Holden had a brain tumor, and shortly after, he went into brain surgery. He was four years old when this occurred. Holden’s surgeon, Dr. Ruge, told us that we were lucky he had got into surgery when he did.

Shortly after the tumor in his brain was removed, we learned that Holden had medulloblastoma- a brain cancer common among children. Holden later endured nine cycles of chemotherapy and thirty rounds of radiation therapy. All of my brother’s treatments were designed for adults- that’s how present the cancer was in his body. After his surgery, Holden had to relearn basic skills such as speaking, walking, and eating. He’s doing great now, but some side effects from the treatment he received remain.

Because my brother’s situation was so dangerous, my family spent a great deal of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Through this, we met many other families with a child battling cancer. I was shocked at how many families were like ours, and we heard of the many different kinds of cancer that affect children. My family and I have met children who are fighting or who have fought leukemia, brain cancer, and ependymoma (a type of central nervous system cancer).

For every dollar raised annually for cancer research, childhood cancer research receives only four cents of each dollar. This is devastating considering that about 400,000 children and adolescents all over the world are diagnosed with cancer each year. In addition to this, there are many different types of cancer that affect children annually. It’s wonderful that cancer types among adults are receiving financial support, but children battling cancer deserve that same support and recognition. Children have their whole lives ahead of them to experience, and cancer should not get to take those opportunities away.

This September, I encourage you to get involved with local childhood cancer awareness groups. Cal’s Angels is a wonderful organization that supports childhood cancer awareness, and they offer many opportunities for volunteers. While our school participates with our Gold Out game, there are a variety of additional opportunities to participate with this organization. Some of these opportunities include the Cal’s Angels Glow Walk and toy drives for patients.

Another great organization dedicated to raising awareness for childhood cancer is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. My family has participated in events with this foundation. There are events and activities for which you can volunteer, such as helping the foundation with planning outings for families with a loved one battling cancer. You can create birthday and holiday cards for children with cancer as well. I have attached the links to both organizations’ websites below.

I highly recommend volunteering with childhood cancer awareness groups such as these. Volunteering can help you to give back to the community and raise awareness for childhood cancer simultaneously. If more people become aware of childhood cancer and its impact, we can help to give childhood cancer more than four cents for every dollar. Let’s go gold!

 

 

 

Cited Sources:

“Childhood Cancer Facts”. Stjude.Org, 2022, https://www.stjude.org/treatment/pediatric-oncology/childhood-cancer-facts.html#:~:text=Cancer%20is%20diagnosed%20each%20year,now%20become%20long%2Dterm%20survivors.

“Cal’s Angels”. Calsangels.Org, 2022, https://www.calsangels.org/.

“Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation – Volunteer”. Curethekids.Org, 2022, http://www.curethekids.org/get-involved/volunteer.html.