Thursday, December 13, 2012

Childhood Cancer - How We Can Help

Did you know that, despite that fact that over 13,500 children will be diagnosed with cancer and about 2,500 kids in the U.S. alone will die from this disease this year, only about 4% percent of the annual budget of the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) is dedicated to childhood cancer?  

Hearing that makes we want to do something about it.  All cancers are devastating; childhood cancers are the worst in that the smallest, most vulnerable amongst us are affected, not just by the disease but by the ravages of the often brutal treatment.  Obviously the children who have been diagnosed with cancer who have not survived have had a great deal stolen from them, as have their families.  But here's another point to consider:  even children with cancer who do survive are being robbed of those months and years of their childhood and are often left with secondary effects of the cancers and/or the treatments that they had to endure to make it to adulthood.

Through reading about cancer in general and then about childhood cancer specifically, I found out about a campaign called The Truth 365, which is an organized effort to educate the public and generate action to help fight childhood cancer through film and social media.  Through the group behind this campaign, individuals like you and me are able to DO SOMETHING to help, through taking just a few minutes of our time.  It isn't a telethon or a fundraiser; it's an awareness campaign, and it's something that has never been done before in this way.

If you are interested in helping in the effort to protect children from this terrible disease, post a link to this blog entry on your social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter and share it with people you know. Then take some time (about an hour, but well worth it) to watch the powerful documentary film produced for The Truth 365 to find out some simple things that you can do to help battle this terrible beast:

The organizers of this group are trying to raise awareness to increase funding for research and treatment of childhood cancers, not just so that more children who are diagnosed with cancer live but also so that those who do survive are not left with a lifetime of detrimental side effects of treatment.  They want people to understand that the statistics that we hear - that up to 75-80% of children who are diagnosed with cancer survive - paint a picture that is not all together accurate.  That statistic, for example, is only based on a five year survival rate, and many of the children who make it to that point do not go on to survive longer term.  They want everyone to be aware that the increase in survival rates that we hear about in kids with cancer over the past few decades have mostly come from these children being given greater and stronger amounts of drugs that were developed for use in adults and that very often no one knows exactly what the effects of these treatments in children will be.  They want us to see that doctors and other health care professionals who are trained to treat these very sick kids and to research the treatments that can save them are having to spend time fighting for funding instead.  They want us to know that with no money and with just a few minutes of our time, we can do something to help in this cause.

The film will enlighten you to the facts that we all need to know, whether we personally know a child who has cancer or not.  Through the film and through viewing the group's website, you will find out about action steps that need to be taken to further increase awareness and support and to secure the funding needed.  You will learn in viewing the film is that each of our Congressmen have been asked to sign a pledge which affirms his or her support for children with cancer.  

A listing of those U.S. Representatives and Senators who have signed the pledge has been posted here -  

by state, so that we can see who still needs to be encouraged to sign this pledge.  For example, in Tennessee, two members of Congress have yet to commit: 

They are asking us to contact members of Congress who have not signed the pledge to ask them to do so.  Most of the contact info you need is right there on the site; if you live in Tennessee, you can click here for Bob Corker's contact info and here to contact Chuck Fleischmann to let them know the importance of their commitment to this issue.

When you get to the website, bookmark and check back as often as possible to find out about the latest iniative of the group  and how you can help, often with just the click of a mouse button.  

There are lots of causes and organizations that ask for donations of money and items, especially during this time of year, but this one is unique in that all they are asking for is a few minutes of our time.  The greatest reflection on us as a society and in my opinion as individuals is the way we treat those who are less fortunate than we, and I can't think of an easier way to do that than to participate in this effort.