Let’s talk about September. We have about a month to prepare. But for what you might ask?
September is an important month for just about everyone in the United States of America.
September is when school officially starts for most people. September is the start of Fall, and when summer vacations wind down.
But in the cancer community, September means something different.
For most Americans, September doesn’t have any significance to them in regards to cancer. It is just the month before October – when the entire country goes pink. Buildings are lit up, billboards are everywhere, and for the entire month you can buy toilet paper with little pink ribbons on it. Everyone wears “Fight Like A Girl” pink hoodies, and there’s numerous events for “Save the Ta-Tas!”
But really, if you want to fight like a girl, you should talk about September. Because typically girls don’t get breast cancer.
Girls get Leukemia.
Girls get Neuroblastoma.
Girls get Ostreocycoma.
Girls get Wilms Tumors.
Girls get DIPG.
And guess what, so do boys. Our children get all these cancers. They’re the real heroes, the real fighters. They’re the ones getting adult chemo treatments and adult radiation doses on their smaller, still developing bodies. Not to down play breast cancer at all, because cancer for anyone is horrible! But our children are dying and nobody is wearing a gold ribbon and saying “fight like a girl” or “fight like a boy.”
There is a grocery store, Farm Fresh, that does a lot for our local Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. Our local cancer clinic’s entire beach theme comes almost exclusively from Farm Fresh’s donations. Every Spring they have a round up campaign and donate it all to our cancer ward. A few of the cancer patients even get to design some of their reusable shopping bags. The proceeds generally go back to the hospital as well.
I normally try to shop at Farm Fresh because of this support. So last September, I went into Farm Fresh to get a gallon of milk. I noticed the Halloween stuff had already been put out, so I stopped to look at a couple of pumpkins. They all had painted goofy faces on them and I thought Cayla might like one. And then I turned the corner and saw a whole section for Breast Cancer Awareness.
It felt like a slap in the face.
For a company that has been so supportive of our children, it felt like a physical blow. September wasn’t even over yet and, as usual, our children were being brushed aside. Because there’s no profit in childhood cancer.
Awareness is not what we need anymore. Thanks to St. Jude’s, just about everyone knows and are aware that kids get cancer. What we need is education. Because not everyone knows how common it is.
Everybody says Childhood Cancer is rare. But 40,000 children¹ going through treatment a year is NOT rare.
In the adult population, ages 20-39, 1 out of 530 is a childhood cancer survivor. This isn’t rare.
Rare would be Laband Syndrome, which has had only 30 reported cases since 1928. Rare is what my Uncle Dave had – Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma.
Yes, certain types of Childhood Cancer are rare. Just like my uncle’s cancer was rare. But as a whole? Childhood Cancer is not rare. Not when 43 children are being diagnosed with it EVERY DAY.
If more people had exposure to the actual children and their battles, then maybe the world would care beyond the circles of parents. Our future is dying. We have an epidemic that takes 7 children a day.
In April, we had a death that hit a little too close to home. I had been grieving for 2 years by this point for several other children. Cayla and I had discussed death numerous times. And then, Louie passed. Louie and his family had been neck and neck with us the whole treatment. Cayla and Louie had grown up, along with Lauren, in this world. All three of them were on the same timeline, all high risk, all little. Lauren will complete treatment only a few weeks before Cayla. And Louie should have as well. His family was our family and vice versa. Louie relapsed. And it hurt. But, nothing was worse than explaining to Cayla that he had passed. I take that back. When she asked why not her instead because she was older, that hurt more. She still talks and plays with him.
Then, baby Hunter passed in June. And once again, I had to explain to my daughter what happened. Before, I could explain what was happening and she didn’t understand. Now that she’s six, she does. And she still cries about both of her friends leaving too young on bad days.
And yet we bat our pretty eyes and pull on our pink sweaters, because boobs and the sexuality they portray in this country are more important than our future generations.
I don’t know why people are so shocked to find out the percentage of cancer patients. I know they don’t realize how hard it is. And the only way they will know is if we share pictures of not only the good times, but the bad times too. It is not only the grieving parents that are angry and upset, but all of us.
Kerstin was undergoing radiation. The pain meds that they give her were maxed out on her dosage. And because she was a minor, they couldn’t give her anything else. She felt the radiation burn her skin as it tried to kill the cancer cells in her bones.
So how about we try, really hard, to make September Gold this year? How about we remind these children that they matter? And fight like a kid!
¹ - statistics from Curesearch.com