When someone hears the words childhood cancer you think of a child that is about 3-13 years old. This is what the news reports on all the time. The news worthy stories that play on the heartstrings of everyone watching.
Childhood cancer is defined this way:
Childhood cancer is cancer in a child. In the United States, an arbitrarily adopted standard of the ages used are 0–14 years inclusive, that is, up to 14 years 11.9 months of age. However, the definition of childhood cancer sometimes includes young adults between 15-19 years old.
I am sorry, but when did 15-19 year olds become full adults? You have to be 21 to drink and 25 to rent a car, but at 14 years and 11.9 months you are no longer a child when it comes to cancer??? EXCUSE ME but does this seem odd to anyone else? “Young adults” cannot drive at 15, they haven’t graduated nor can they vote. But when it comes to cancer and the treatments thereof, they are adults. Make A Wish also has a harder time making wishes come true for the “young adult” cancer patients. My question is why? How can this be?
Let me state for the record that September is both Childhood Cancer and Blood Cancer awareness. I find this very interesting that Heather ended her cancer treatments in September, 2008, both my and Bill’s birthday and anniversary are in September. It is also when fall begins. The coming to the end of summer with Labor Day holiday. It seems to be the closure of a lot of things.
The official color for childhood cancer is yellow or a goldenrod, leukemia is orange and lymphoma is lime green. Blood cancer in general is the color red. All of the colors of fall as well. The problem is that no one knows about September. There are no big ads or commercials about these types of cancer. Like I have said before, I am not taking anything away from breast cancer, but everyone knows the color is pink and it is the month of October. Even the NFL wears pink everything to honor breast cancer.
The following statistics are mind blowing:
Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 175,000 per year, are diagnosed with cancer and approximately 96,000 CHILDREN per year die from cancer.
More than 96,000 families will deal with the death of their child because of cancer.
In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death among children between the ages of 1 and 14 years, exceeded only by accidents. More than 16 out of every 100,000 children and teens in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer, and nearly 3 of every 100,000 died from the disease in the United States in 2012.
The most common cancers in children are (childhood) leukemia (34%), brain tumors (23%), and lymphomas (12%)
The leukemia death rate for children and adolescents younger than 15 years in the United States has declined by 80 percent from 1969 to 2010. Despite this decline, leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children, adolescents and young adults younger than 20 years.
There is more to the story than this too. I find it odd that my blood related half-sister had a daughter that had blood cancer when she was 13 months old. What are the odds that direct related cousins would both end up with blood cancer? I was not raised with my sister so this is not environmental. It has to be genetic. Something to be concerned about for sure. The second strange event was that Bill had a coworker that had followed Heather’s cancer journey. When Heather was admitted to ICU he came to visit and told us that his then 3 year old daughter had just been diagnosed with ALL-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I have no doubt that as parents they were terrified to see what happened to Heather unfold in front of their eyes. I have no doubt that every parent reading my blog from day to day was saying thank goodness I am not Sherry. It is okay I would and did say that same thing once.
Heather was 19 years old when she began to have symptoms of Lymphoma/Leukemia, she was 20 years old when she was diagnosed and then she was a whopping 21 years old when she died. She was still a child, a baby and believe me, she was a child who only wanted her momy when she was sick and scared. She was an adult in the eyes of the Childhood cancer, but she was still a child. All children that face cancer grow up and become very mature very quickly. They face more in a short amount of time than we as adults can even imagine. We were not able to be treated at Phoenix Children’s Hospital will all the internet and cool things to do. We were never contacted by Make-A-Wish to make a dream come true. (I did that on my own) Local newspapers and television stations did not cover her cancer. She fell between the cracks of child and adult.
I hope each one of you will stop to think about September with all the fall colors of orange, red, yellow and green and remember childhood cancer and blood cancer awareness month.