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Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Importance & Get Involved

Every September, a golden ribbon of advocacy unfurls across the globe, marking Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Far from just another date on the calendar, this event resonates deeply with countless families, healthcare workers, and supporters worldwide. This recognition isn't merely ceremonial; it's an effort to spotlight the trials, victories, and unmet needs in the field of children's cancer treatment.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month combines public education and support for a cause affecting countless young lives annually.

This Awareness Month isn’t just about raising awareness or funding childhood cancer research. With every ounce of support we give this September, we contribute to a world where childhood cancer is no longer misunderstood. In a world where support for those afflicted and childhood cancer survivors is plentiful, every child stands a fighting chance against cancer.

Read on to learn more about the cause and how to get involved. 

Featured in: September - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month History and Background

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Gold Ribbon
Photo by Tara Winstead.

September rolls around each year and brings with it Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM), a beacon of hope that's been glowing since 2010. 

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) started it all, deciding it was time to shed light on the trials and triumphs of children battling cancer and their resilient families. Two years later, the initiative got a boost, with President Barack Obama stepping up to officially acknowledge CCAM in 2012.

This awareness month has evolved over the years, growing from mere recognition into a powerful force for change. 

One standout achievement that exemplifies this is the Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2018. Crafted to improve life and care for little warriors who've beaten cancer, the act is a solid win for the relentless advocates championing pediatric cancer issues. ACCO's dynamic Executive Director, Ruth Hoffman is at the forefront, whose efforts never ceased.

Of course, CCAM hasn't stopped at the borders of the United States—the gold ribbon symbolizing childhood cancer awareness now waves in countries far and wide. 

The Cause and Its Challenges

ACCO Infographic
Image courtesy ACCO. Click here for more images to share to support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Sadly, the impact of pediatric cancers ripples across the globe, ignoring socio-economic or demographic boundaries. 

This awareness day focuses on bringing childhood cancers into the conversation, promoting early detection, and making a stand for an increase in funding and research across pediatric cancer treatment. 

And it's about the families, those thrown into a whirlwind of medical jargon, emotional ups and downs, and financial strife with each diagnosis.

Still, despite strides made in cancer treatment, the hurdles are high. Getting to grips with the disease, trawling through treatment options, and dealing with the physical and psychological fallout takes a significant toll on many. Mix in the emotional drain and financial squeeze; you have a road fraught with uncertainty and tension.

And the stakes? They're alarmingly high. According to The National Cancer Institute, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children under 19 in the U.S. 

Each year, around 300,000 children worldwide receive a cancer diagnosis. A shocking 80% of these cases are in low- to middle-income countries, highlighting the stark disparity in healthcare access.

5 Reasons Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Matters

  • Every year, a staggering 15,780 children, all under 19, receive the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis in the U.S. 
  • Childhood cancer isn't a single enemy. The usual suspects are leukemia, central nervous system, brain tumor, and lymphoma. Together, they're responsible for over half of all new cases.
  • What causes childhood cancer? Truthfully, it remains a mystery that continues to baffle the brightest minds in our field. Some suspect a cocktail of genetic mutations, exposures before birth, and environmental influences as the likely culprits. But we're still piecing together the puzzle, one research study at a time.
  • However, survival rates for childhood cancer have improved dramatically over the decades. The overall 5-year survival rate currently stands at a promising 85%. That victory is worth celebrating, signifying progress in treatment methods and early diagnosis.
  • However, cancer is formidable- ongoing research, increased funding, and amplified awareness are all required to bear childhood cancer.
  • Plus, we mustn't forget that there's a huge emotional toll. For every family grappling with a childhood cancer diagnosis, support is not just helpful; it’s an absolute lifeline.

Efforts and Initiatives

Living in a world where childhood cancer remains, various childhood cancer organizations tirelessly plow forward with initiatives to lighten this load. 

The WHO, via its Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, works hand in hand with various governments and is focusing on creating and rolling out strong national cancer control plans. 

Further, 177 member organizations from 90 countries support Childhood Cancer International (CCI). They raise awareness, rallying for families and championing better research funding. One of their brainchildren is the Gold Ribbon Campaign, CCI's powerful call to arms.

How to Get Involved and Support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

2 childhood cancer patients
Two young girls with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) receiving chemotherapy. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

A good starting point could be local awareness gatherings. These community-organized events serve dual purposes, from charity runs and walks to fundraisers. They generate the necessary funding for ongoing, cutting-edge research and offer a platform for shared stories and vital education about childhood cancer1.

Yet, involvement is broader than these events. You can get involved by volunteering at a children's hospital or lending a hand at a cancer support organization. This direct approach can bring about tangible changes in the lives of children battling cancer and their families through support or simply someone to help and listen as they undertake their cancer journey. 

But what if you want to show support in other ways? Look no further than your closet. Gold, the proud color representing Childhood Cancer Awareness, can be effortlessly woven into your daily attire. Whether a gold ribbon or a pin, your accessory could spark conversations about the cause, helping it reach a broader audience.

And in our socially connected world, the impact of social media can't be underestimated. Use these platforms to disseminate knowledge, share personal stories, document your involvement, and encourage others to join fundraising efforts. Also, do join the conversation with the official hashtag, #CCAM.

Conclusion

Fighting childhood cancer isn't a solitary endeavor. It's a collective responsibility, an alliance of researchers, clinicians, families, and you. Our actions can all help fight cancer. Let's rally, contribute, and make Childhood Cancer Awareness Month count this September and every day hereafter.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month FAQs

1. What is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month focuses on raising awareness about childhood cancer, its impact on families, and the need for more research and funding to find a cure.

2. How common is childhood cancer?

Childhood cancer is relatively rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cancer cases. However, it remains the leading cause of death among children aged 1-19.

3. What are the common types of childhood cancer?

The most common types of childhood cancer include leukemia, brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and Wilms tumor.

4. What are some of the challenges faced by children with cancer and their families?

Children with cancer and their families face a wide range of challenges, including emotional distress, financial strain, and difficulty accessing quality care.

5. How can individuals get involved and support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

You'll find many ways to get involved and support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, including donating to organizations that fund research and support families, participating in local events, and spreading awareness on social media.

1

Rodriguez-Galindo, C., Friedrich, P., Alcasabas, P., Antillon, F., Banavali, S., Castillo, L., ... & Sullivan, M. (2015). Toward the cure of all children with cancer through collaborative efforts: Pediatric oncology as a global challenge. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 33(27), 3065-3073.

Photo by Tara Winstead
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