The Devastation - and Hope - of Childhood Cancer
Unfortunately, many of us are all-too-aware of the devastation of Childhood cancer - and most of us have a story of how it has impacted our lives, or the lives of loved ones. For me, it was 28 years ago. My niece, then 14 months old, was toddling about on the front porch and took a little tumble, landing on her rump. The resulting cries seemed excessive for the fall and when my sister took her in to change her diaper, she saw what we were first told at the E.R. was a huge hematoma (a bruise). It would be two days before a specialist gave us the life-changing news.
Tess, at 14 months old
This sweet, innocent child was in stage four cancer. She had a cancerous tumor on the tip of her tailbone that had metastasized to her lung. The fall had caused the tumor to shift, making it visible. This seemingly normal, happy toddler was on death’s door – and we didn’t even know she was sick!
The surgeries and treatments started immediately and aggressively. No time to think. No time to prepare. No time to feel. Life or death decisions had to be made on the spot. Our family weekend took a turn none of us could have ever anticipated. It was a nightmare.
As it turned out, that little fall had saved her life! Fast-forward twenty-eight years, and my niece is a healthy, successful attorney and we couldn’t be more grateful. However, at the time, the treatments and drugs used to save her were still experimental and untested. It was an unimaginably frightening and confusing time and we had to put our complete faith in the doctors and surgeons during, in what became, a two year ordeal.
This is not an easy thing to do – and yet, too many families are put in this same position every day, as instances of childhood cancers continue. Fortunately, there are many organizations and foundations in place whose missions are to help find a cure; to help doctors and researchers share vital information and findings; to help families financially and/or emotionally; or to cater to sick children and try to bring some joy and normalcy into their otherwise painful and lonely experiences. Whatever the goal, the volunteers and administrators of these groups work passionately and tirelessly to raise the funds necessary to do their important work.
At Coco’s Closet, part of our passion has always been to give back. That’s why, throughout the year, we donate a portion of profits to several of these groups, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Cancer Society and the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
According to a 2014 article published by the American Cancer Society, “…cancer is still the second leading cause of death (following accidents) in children aged 5 to 14 years.” 1 It doesn’t have to stay this way. We can each find a way to help that fits with our life, whether we donate money, donate time, give blood or plasma, become a bone marrow donor, or simply sit with a sick child or assist his/her family.
And if childhood cancer is affecting your family, reach out and ask for help. Compassion is abundant and help is available in many ways. We are all in this together – and, together we can make a difference! With each advancement made, there is an ever-growing hope for patients and their families alike. Perhaps one day soon, we find an end to childhood cancers altogether.
1Ward, PhD, Elizabeth, et al. "CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians." Wiley Online Library, American Cancer Society, 31 Jan. 2014, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21219. Accessed 16 Sept. 2018.
Graphic designed for Alex's Lemonade Stand: Foundation for Childhood Cancer, www.alexslemonade.org