I know a lot of people are wondering what they can do to help in the fight against childhood cancer. The simplest idea I have for you is to donate. Donate, donate, donate! Donate money to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, American Children’s Cancer Organization, or many of the other worthy foundations. Just make sure that you know where your money is going. Right now, there is a great need for research. I cannot even begin to stress how badly we need funding for that. Childhood cancer only gets less than 4% of federal funding, and it isn’t even just one disease! It is 12 different ones, and there are countless subtypes too.
Donate your spare time to learning the truth about childhood cancer. I guarantee the more you learn, the madder you will get. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Poke the darn bear. He needs to be poked. Children’s lives depend on it. Childhood cancer can rear its ugly head anywhere and anytime. If you want your child to get a test done, ask for it, and don’t accept NO as an answer. KNOWLEDGE is everything. It’s okay to get mad, but use that anger positively. Nothing good is ever accomplished by negativity.
Donate blood and platelets. Register to be a bone marrow donor. Yes, it is that simple. Cancer patients need many, many blood transfusions throughout their treatments. Platelets are what clot the blood, and they need that too. When someone who has cancer and gets a nosebleed or something, it is often difficult to stop the blood flow because their platelets are so low. And bone marrow transplants are life-giving.
Start writing letters. Write to your mayor, your governor, local business owners, your favorite celebrities, even the President. Write to anyone you can think of who has the means to help. You tell them that cancer is the #1 leading cause of death BY DISEASE in children. You tell them approximately 36 children are diagnosed every single day, and approximately 7 more die of cancer every single day. And you tell them that doesn’t even include the children who die of pneumonia because their immune system is wiped out by toxic chemotherapy drugs. You tell them that CHILDREN get adult-tailored drugs because there is no money in developing pediatric cancer drugs that would be safer and more effective in treating it. Yes, you read that right. And you tell them that TWO out of THREE childhood cancer survivors suffer long term side effects because of the poison that they are pumped full of to try to save their lives. And it is poison. I have heard from more than one cancer parent how scared they are when their child is receiving chemotherapy. It is so toxic the people administrating it have to wear gloves. They take every precaution to protect themselves, and yet they are putting this toxic, poisonous substance into the bodies of babies. How is this okay? It is not!
You ask people to help. And if they don’t listen, then you keep asking. Write to the media. It seriously makes me sick how childhood cancer is ignored and glossed over. The realities of it are unbelievably sad, but if we all looked the other direction, nothing will ever change. And people, things have GOT to change.
Volunteer. Sometimes children are left alone in the hospitals/clinics because their parents have to work to make ends meet. It’s an unbelievable amount of stress to have a child with cancer, because you worry constantly. Not only about whether your child will live or die, but about normal things as well, the money in the bank, the food in the kitchen, and every day bills. Sometimes all a child needs is for someone to sit with them, read to them, or just hold them. Human contact is everything. Feeling loved can be the difference between life or death. I have seen cases where there was no hope, but the children hung on longer than expected because they knew they were loved. Their will to live is so strong.
Donate new toys, have a donation drive, like my dear friend Shannan does. Children are often stuck inpatient bored out of their minds. You can help change that. Games, crafts, books, movies, toys are always needed. Cancer patients often have compromised immune systems, so old toys are not a good idea, as they tend to be germ city. But sometimes hospitals will take used DVDs. Children in treatment range from infant to age 20.
I am looking forward to the day when WE have the upper hand, not cancer. Imagine if we ALL worked together, our voices would be so loud and so strong no one could ignore us. Imagine a world where no child got cancer. Then, help make that into reality. PLEASE.