The month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside by numerous organizations across the United States to honor the children and families who are touched by this disease.
Childhood cancer is a topic about which most of us are blissfully unaware until it touches our lives. We think of it as a rarity — something that happens to someone else. But in reality, childhood cancer is happening all around us. Approximately 15,780 children each year receive a cancer diagnosis, and thousands more are living with the disease. And despit promising advances in the treatment of childhood cancer, many of these children — about 1,960 per year — will die.
Every year at this time, the American Childhood Cancer Organization works to raise awareness about this terrible disease through fundraisers at various schools and businesses across the United States. Additionally, it hosts the Gold Ribbon Heroes Program, a platform that helps those touched by childhood cancer share their stories and celebrate their lives. Children who are fighting the disease and their families; doctors and nurses on the front lines; even researchers who are searching for a cure are some of the featured heroes on the ACCO website. Their stories inspire and educate, and teach us that it’s possible for everyone to give back in some way.
Founded in 1968 by Grace Ann and Larry Monaco after their 18-month old daughter Kathleen was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia, ACCO strives to raise awareness about childhood cancer and its effects. Their website blog even suggests ways in which the public can host or register their own Awareness Events. While many of them are held in the month of September, they can be scheduled year-round.
But ACCO isn’t alone in its drive to promote awareness of childhood cancer. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force — a collaborative effort to “make a decade’s worth of progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer in just five years.” And in 2014, the president signed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which established the Pediatric Research Initiative Fund, ensuring that millions of dollars are devoted to children’s cancer research over the next 10 years.
So this month, let’s all push the initiative to remember those children and their families whose lives are touched by cancer. After all, cancer doesn’t stop, and neither should we.