I’ve been watching pretty closely as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge spreads around the internet like crazy. Interesting how things catch on. And no matter what you think of the challenge, the results kind of speak for themselves. Donations are up to over $93 million dollars compared with $2.7 million in the same period last year. It’s phenomenal, for a disease that generally receives very little funding.
This interests me in particular, because I’ve worked on fundraising and awareness raising campaigns in the past. I did the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers (a 60km walk taking place over 2 days) for several years, raising over $10,000 for that cause. In the last few years however, I’ve come to know personally a number of people who’ve been affected by a disease that is also very underfunded — childhood cancer. I personally know three families whose children have had to endure cancer. One is still fighting and has essentially been fighting her whole life — she’s 4 years old.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Here’s some awareness that people may not have.
- Cancer is the number one disease killer of children.
- In Canada, about 3% of all donations to cancer are directed to children’s cancer. In the US, I believe the number is about 4%.
- Those who survive childhood cancer are far more likely to suffer recurrences of other cancers later in their life, often due to the toxicity of the treatment used.
- No new drugs have been approved for the treatment of childhood cancer in over 20 years. Treatments available today are for adults and are extremely hard on little bodies.
As a parent, I can’t imagine anything more difficult than watching your little one have to go through the pain and suffering of years and years of treatment. 3% is not enough funding for this disease.
My friend’s niece, Pheobe Rose, has been fighting this disease since she was 9 weeks old. She just turned 4. She has suffered many relapses and her parents have fought her entire life to try to find a treatment that is for her specific type of cancer. They’ve had to give up their jobs, move their family, including Phoebe’s older sister Mae, to different places in Canada and the US to pursue treatment. Because of the lack of funding directed to children’s cancers, very little research is done, and with each relapse, their options are fewer and fewer. And their story is not unique among cancer patients.
We need to do better for our kids. Read about Phoebe’s courageous fight. Pass this information along to others. Wear gold in September. If you’re able to, donate to charities that specifically support childhood cancer treatment and that help families who are dealing with childhood cancer.