Today Ty told me he wants to go to the sprinkler park and run in the sprinklers. I swear, sometimes I think he forgets his limitations and what he has been robbed of. It is a child’s right to run through sprinklers in the summertime. To sit in circle time at Kindergarten. To hit a baseball. To have a best friend. A girlfriend (or boyfriend)! To go to college. To get married. To have kids of their own. We need to do everything we can to help save these little cancer warriors and to protect them from a lifetime of chronic illnesses or handicaps.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I looked back to see what I posted on September 1st last year. Sadly, the stats haven’t changed. I still get so discouraged when I see all of the displays with pink ribbons year-round. Not because I don’t believe breast cancer deserves the recognition (of course not!) but because our kids do, too! Where are the gold ribbons?
The most obvious difference since my post last September is that Ty suffered long term side effects from his treatments that have left him paralyzed. Our lives have been challenged even further, but SuperTy perseveres J
The numbers are still staggering (source: The Truth 365)
- Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death by disease among children, claiming the lives of more children each year than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis and diabetes combined.
- Seven children in the US died from cancer today. Seven more will die tomorrow.
- There is no known cause or prevention for most childhood cancers. Childhood cancer happens at random and it does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class or geographic region.
- In the US alone, almost 13,000 children under 21 will be diagnosed with cancer. One out of four will not survive.
- Among those that do survive, most will suffer significant and chronic medical problems, including increased likelihood for secondary cancer as a result of receiving toxic treatments at such an early age. This fact is one that is all too familiar to us.
- In the past 20 years ONLY ONE new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric cancer.
- Incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29 percent in the past 20 years.
- The average age of death for a child with cancer is 8, causing a childhood cancer victim to lose 69 years of expected life years.
- Cancer treatments can affect a child’s growth, fertility, and endocrine system. Child survivors may be permanently immunologically suppressed.
- Radiation to a child’s brain can significantly damage cognitive function, or if radiation is given at a very young age, limiting the ability to read, do basic math, tell time or even talk.
- Physical and neurocognitive disabilities resulting from treatment may prevent childhood cancer survivors from fully participating in school, social activities and eventually work, which can cause depression and feelings of isolation.
- Researchers estimate that 51% of moms and 40% of dads who have a child with cancer meet the criteria for “Acute Stress Disorder” within two weeks of the cancer diagnoses. Many cancer parents also suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The St. Baldrick's foundation asked if they could share Ty's story in an effort to promote Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Of course, we were very excited about the opportunity. He is one of 12 children highlighted on their website this month. I decided that this September, each blog I post will focus on a different experience we have had on this journey. To recap Ty's story in a way that helps everyone understand what it's like for all cancer families - not just ours. As always, thank you for your love and support.