September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

The month is described as a time to educate the public about pediatric cancers

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month marks the month of September, and it’s an ideal time to both reflect on the realities of both incidents of the disease in our kids but also the strides that are being taken in the scientific community to combat it.

The Canadian Cancer Society designates September as Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and the organization describes it also as a time to educate the public about pediatric cancers.

There are certainly signs of improvement in rates of survival over the years.

In the 1980s, the five-year survival rate for childhood cancers was 71%.

Today, according to the Society, 83% of children with cancer will survive as investments from donors have allowed childhood cancer to be detected earlier, better treatments have been developed and as a result, more children are surviving cancer. Childhood cancer death rates have dropped from 40 per million children in 1985 to 20 per million in 2009.

But sadly, childhood cancer is still the number one cause of disease-related death in Canadian children past infancy, and two out of every three childhood cancer survivors will suffer long-term side effects from their treatment.

According to the Society, as different cancers grow or spread, they cause different signs and symptoms depending on the type of cancer and its size, location and effect on nearby tissues or organs. Cancer can also occur in organs deep within the body. These cancers may not cause signs or symptoms right away and may not become apparent until discovered by a doctor during a routine checkup.

The Society also points out that cancers in children are often difficult to recognize. Parents are often the first to notice that something is wrong with a child.

That comes largely from those everyday observances in your child any change from their normal behaviour or health that persists or is not easily explained should be checked by the child’s doctor.

Meanwhile, The Big Book of Care is described as one great, big, growing story of individuals and organizations that care about children with cancer and decided to unite and work as one during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

According to their web site, this initiative includes 17 children’s cancer groups from across Canada and they are committed to working together to help children with cancer.

“Childhood cancer stalks most young people the rest of their lives. An estimated 30,000 survivors of childhood cancer are living in Canada today. Sadly, about 21,000 of these survivors are living with permanent, and sometimes debilitating, side-effects from the cancer treatments they received as children. These long-term health problems are hurting the survivors and their families and they are taking their toll on our health care system.”

So each September, children’s cancer groups dedicate the month to raising funds and awareness for these kids, but resources are tight and marketing efforts are isolated, resulting in little or no impact.

Organizers wondered, ‘What if children’s cancer groups across Canada could unite and work as one? Could we actually do more together than we could alone? Could we put the story of childhood cancer on the map for all to see and hear?’

Their hope is that folks will hear the stories of childhood cancer that are unfolding in Canada right now. That every Canadian will hear these stories and that every Canadian will realize that it is within their power to help change the outcome of childhood cancer.

Organizers hope these stories will inspire citizens to take action—whether that means sharing the stories they encounter on the web site, giving to a children’s cancer charity or hugging your own children and sharing your love and appreciation on social media.

Visit www.bigbookofcare.org.