Valdosta Daily Times

August 31, 2013

Raising awareness of childhood cancer

The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Cancer is the number one cause of disease-related death in children. Each year, more than 13,000 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer, and approximately one quarter will not survive the disease.

As childhood cancer represents only 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses, the American Cancer Society devotes a similar percentage to research, even though childhood cancer has one of the highest non-survival rates among cancers. Research into the causes and treatment is far behind that of other cancers, leaving parents with fewer options.

Added to the incredible financial stress of a cancer diagnosis is the lack of resources in the area for children with cancer. There are no pediatric cancer physicians in Valdosta or the surrounding area, and families have to travel to Macon, Atlanta, Gainesville or Jacksonville for treatment. Many families make the trip once a week for months or years with their children.

Even when a child survives cancer, they are often faced with lifelong health complications from the disease, ranging from heart and lung damage to alterations in their growth and development.

With a dozen or more cases of childhood cancer in our area each year, the disease is eclipsed by other causes, and families are often left to their own resources. The kindness and generosity of school friends, other parents, and organizations have helped many, but the public is generally unaware of the toll that cancer takes on local families.

Throughout September, The Times will feature stories of survivors and stories of families coping with the loss of a child, both in the newspaper and in the Valdosta Scene magazine to raise awareness of childhood cancer in our community.