Posts Tagged ‘ Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ’

Honoring Children with Cancer in September

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Nearly 13,000 kids under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year and, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), nearly 25 percent of kids diagnosed per year will not survive the disease. This is why September is dedicated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Even though President Obama’s proclamation this year revealed that ongoing research and treatment has led to outstanding progress (the five-year survival rate for all childhood cancers has increased from less than 50 percent to 80 percent over the past several decade), there is still much work to be done.

Below are ways to learn more about the disease and to engage with affected communities:

More information about childhood cancer can be found on


Image: Awareness Ribbon – Bone, via Shutterstock

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How to Make Life Normal For a Child With Cancer

Monday, September 26th, 2011

As we’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve told you about moms who’ve shaved their heads to show their support for kids undergoing treatment and we’ve introduced you to a survivor who’s now herself a grandmother.

Now we’re sharing thoughts from Reiko Meier, a mom in Illinois whose daughter, Zoe, has been fighting cancer for nearly nine years. (There they are in the photo.) We asked Reiko to tell us what she’d want other parents to know–particularly those whose children are in the earlier stages of diagnosis and treatment. This is her advice:

I’ve been blessed to walk down an extremely bumpy path with my 11-year-old daughter Zoe.  She was diagnosed at 2 ½-years old with a brain tumor.  Four surgeries, chemotherapy, and six weeks of proton treatments later, we fight on.  Not only do we fight to eradicate her tumor, we fight to give her as happy and normal a childhood as possible.

The most important advice I give other parents is to keep your child socially connected.  It’s crucial, even during treatment or recovery.  If that means setting up a playdate where the children are on opposite sides of the room so that your recovering child doesn’t catch a bug, so be it.  Put in a movie or have them independently do an activity they can talk about. It is the camaraderie and laughs that make it good for the soul!

It’s also been uplifting for Zoe to play with animals.  Just being around our pets makes her happy.  Kids who have spent so much time being cared for derive pleasure and confidence by caring for a pet.  

Although it can be difficult, have an ongoing activity your child can return to. It fosters both a sense of self and belonging.  Zoe started taking dance when she was 4. Although at times we had to skip it, sometimes even for months, she always knew she had something she could return to and be part of.

Talk to the people caring for your child about your needs. They can be a huge spirit-lifting resource.  When Zoe was receiving her proton treatments at ProCure, their bubbly nurses played with her and connected with her in a way we could not. Treating the child’s spirit as well as the body is becoming much more common in medicine and it makes treatments much less scary.  

In addition to Reiko’s tips, we got an interesting one from of Zoe’s doctors, John Chang, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist. For kids undergoing cancer treatment, it’s crucial to challenge them mentally, he says. “One of the most common long-term side effects in children is short-term memory loss,” explains Dr. Chang. “By challenging your child to play memory games, taking extra time to teach them new subjects even if they are out of school for a period of time, and constantly challenging them mentally, you can help them strengthen their cognitive function.”

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Surviving Childhood Cancer

Monday, September 12th, 2011

This summer I met an incredibly inspiring woman named Alesia Shute (that’s her in the photo). When she was 7, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Throughout the rest of her childhood and early adulthood, she endured six major surgeries and several minor ones, spending months in the hospital. Today she is a happily married mother and grandmother and the head of The Alesia Shute Foundation, which has a mission of improving the lives of families facing childhood disease. She says she has dedicated her life to giving back  “because I am here, because I beat the odds, and because I can.” Alesia also wrote a book about her life called Everything’s Okay: My Journey Surviving Childhood Cancer, and, timed with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a comic-book version has just been published, ideal for tweens and teens. Alesia donates a portion of her proceeds from her books to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was treated.

I asked her what she’d tell parents whose children are facing a diagnosis. She quickly said, “Do your homework”—but added that even if you don’t like what you find, never lose hope. “I’m almost glad the Internet wasn’t around when I was going through this, because my parents would have given up. The odds were so against me, they wouldn’t have pushed for me to get the next surgery.”

Approximately 12,400 children each year are diagnosed with cancer. Their families are thrown into a world they want no part of and yet they have to quickly learn to navigate it. A book like Alesia’s can give parents and older kids a preview of what they may endure—and more importantly, a whole lot of hope.

Everything’s Okay book: $17.95; comic: $14.95.

Photo: Donna Conner.

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Moms Shave Their Heads for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, September 9th, 2011

46 Mommas

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and, for the second year in a row, 46 moms will bring attention to the cause by shaving their heads. “46 Mommas,” a group of mothers who have all been personally affected by childhood cancer, will lose their locks on September 21 in Washington, D.C. The number 46 is significant because every weekday an average of 46 families are told that their child has cancer.

The moms are partnering with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise funds — a long-term goal of raising one million dollars — for childhood cancer research. They hope the second annual “Shave for the Brave” event will raise awareness, increase funds, and inspire others to help find a cure.

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