World Cancer Day

Today is World Cancer Day.  One day, twenty-four hours.  It’s not enough.  We need to fight every single day if we are ever going to see a change.  Every day needs to be World Cancer Day until a cure is found.  It’s good that the world as a whole recognizes that there is a problem.  But one single day isn’t going to solve it.  It happens every single day.  I am not just talking about the children here – that’s bad enough.  But everybody as a whole.  Behind the statistics, behind the numbers, there are names, faces, stories.  Often sad stories, often tragic endings.  It’s 2012.  Things haven’t changed that much since I was a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  46 children are still diagnosed every single day, and 7 more of them die every single day.  No one needs a World Cancer Day more than the children.  They’re the innocent.  They’re the helpless.  They’re the ones trusting us to make them better.  And they’re the ones depending on us to find the cure to save them.

One of the moms whose child I follow made the above video when her son, Wes, was undergoing surgery to remove his kidney.  Wes is a six year old boy with neuroblastoma.  There’s a doctor at Sloan Memorial in New York City  who is building quite a reputation of himself, and not a very good one.  He tells parents that everything looks good, that their child has achieved remission status when that is not the case at all.  This happened to the Paks.  They were told that Wes was in the clear, and then this doctor, this Dr. Kushner, came back and told them that there was a worrisome spot on Wes’ kidney, and that they should opt for its removal.  So, still reeling from the news, Krista Pak and her husband Myong, agreed.  Wes is doing great by the way.  After the surgery yesterday, he did not need a ventilator, a feeding tube, an oxygen tube, chest or abdominal drain,  and instead of being sent to the PICU, he was sent to the Pediatric Observation Unit.  He is such a brave little fighter.  His parents are not the only ones proud of him.

Each year on World Cancer Day, activists host campaigns, events, and fundraisers around the globe to raise awareness — and funds — to find a cure.    I can’t help but think what if they did this every single day – and if not every day, but maybe once a week, or even once a month.  We’d be that much closer to a cure.  Everybody should get involved in raising awareness and funds for cancer.  Because, after all, it can strike anyone, anywhere, without warning.

Here are some organizations if you are interested in getting involved:

Stand Up to Cancer – Since launching in 2008, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than $80 million for cancer research, and helped bring new treatments to patients of all types of cancer– all while advocating policy-change and awareness.

CURE Childhood Cancer – CURE has raised millions for work that focuses on improving the care, quality of life and survival rate of children with cancer through education and support for patients and families.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of pediatric cancer patients, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country. It is the first, and only, national cancer institute devoted solely to children.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand – Honoring the memory of Alexandra Scott, a 4-year-old cancer patient who set up a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research, the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer has now raised thousands for cancer research. The foundation is one of the only national charities that funds pediatric oncology nursing research and grants, designed to improve the quality of life and care of children battle cancer.

Ronald McDonald House Charities – As if the disease wasn’t enough, medical expenses can pile up and burden a family for years to follow. Ronald McDonald House Charities provids free or low-cost places to stay for families who are traveling to get the medical attention they need. The organization is centered on the focus that families are stronger when they are together, helping them face the fight against illness.

There are lots of others, like St. Baldrick’s, the Lance Armstrong foundation Live Strong, and the Make A Wish Foundation.  There is something to the old adage “strength in numbers.”  If we want to put an end to cancer, then we need to put up an united front.  What better way is there then to get involved in raising awareness?  I have said this before, and I’ll keep on saying it:  Awareness = Funding = Cure.  Now, there is an equation I can get behind.

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