Valdosta Daily Times

September 15, 2013

Facing the tragedy of childhood cancer

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Cancer is brutal. No one is immune. Cancer strikes no matter race, no matter political affiliation, no matter social standing, no matter age.

Cancer is brutal, no matter who faces it. But it is particularly devastating to see a child battling cancer.

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Childhood Cancer Month. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked by the color pink in October, Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month adopts the color gold. If you have noticed gold ribbons the past few weeks about town, these are meant to raise awareness of childhood cancer.

The Times has posted a gold ribbon at the top of our front page throughout this month as a reminder of Childhood Cancer Month. Today, you will find a little more gold and yellow throughout the paper in support of this effort.

And it is a serious cause.

The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation provides details that should increase awareness for many people.

— Childhood cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children.

— Childhood cancers kill more children than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and pediatric AIDS combined.

— Childhood cancer is not a single disease, but rather many different types that fall into 12 major categories. Common adult cancers are extremely rare in children, yet many cancers are almost exclusively found in children.

— Childhood cancers are cancers that primarily affect children, teens, and young adults. When cancer strikes children and young adults, it affects them differently than it would an adult.

— Attempts to detect childhood cancers at an earlier stage, when the disease would react more favorably to treatment, have largely failed. Young patients often have a more advanced stage of cancer when first diagnosed.

— Cancer in childhood occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region.

— The cause of most childhood cancers are unknown and, at present, cannot be prevented. Most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation, and other exposure to cancer-causing agents.

— While the cancer death rate has dropped more dramatically for children than for any other age group, hundreds to thousands of children and teenagers will die each year from cancer.

For families and friends of children facing pediatric cancer, these statistics are nothing new. They have lived the nightmare. They have seen these results in the faces of their children.

Throughout this month, The Times has and will share the names and stories of some of the children who have endured childhood cancer. Some of whom are battling cancer. Some of whom have survived. And tragically, some of the children who will always remain children in the hearts and minds of family, friends and the community who knew them.