September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which has been in place every September since 2012. Childhood cancer is the unfortunate reality for thousands of children around the world, and this month is the time to honor them, their battle, and their families.
What Is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
Every September, we honor the children and families who have been affected by childhood cancer and raise awareness about what these children go through. There are a lot of misconceptions about what the month is for, and many comparisons to adult cancer awareness. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month covers all cancers found in children, where other awareness groups often focus on a specific type of cancer.
Childhood Cancer In America
Every year, roughly 15,780 children up to 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. While any number above zero is hard to handle, survival rates are increasing year by year with advancements in medical technology. Dedicated pediatric cancer centers are equipped to deal with the challenges that come with childhood cancer, and charities like the American Childhood Cancer Organization work to supply families with essential support.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a battle of cancer statistics. Childhood cancer can have long lasting effects on the child that’s diagnosed, their family, their education, and finances. The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) raises awareness about these challenges throughout the year, not just in September.
What To Look Out For
Treatment effectiveness increases the earlier you see the symptoms start. For young children who can’t fully communicate, this can make spotting the early signs difficult. Childhood cancers can often progress more aggressively than adult cancers, meaning the earlier you recognize symptoms, the better. The ACCO advises you visit your child’s pediatricians for a checkup if any of the following symptoms are present:
- Bruising easily
- A lump or swelling (especially if around the abdomen, chest, neck, pelvis, or armpits)
- Ongoing fever, nausea, or vomiting
- Changes in vision
- Pain in one area that doesn’t go away
- Loss of energy
- Fast weight loss
- A white color behind the pupil
So how can you raise awareness this September? Be bold and go gold. The golden ribbon symbolizes awareness for all childhood cancers, and gold has been the leading color in awareness campaigns. The ACCO’s online store uses all profits to directly support children and families affected by a childhood cancer diagnosis, providing resources to help them through treatment.
You can also donate directly to the ACCO or keep a lookout for events in your local community being held in support. Being knowledgeable and aware of childhood cancer can help you uplift those affected in your community, and help you recognize the early signs of a possible diagnosis.
Continuing The Fight
Despite the prevalence of childhood cancer, research funds from the U.S. are given more to adult cancer research. Recently, we’ve seen increased rates of survival and effective treatment, with 4 out of 5 children surviving their diagnosis. However, there’s still so much more to know about the disease. Not only about cancers themselves, but especially how they affect children.
With COVID-19 disrupting the delivery of cancer care, it’s more important than ever to make sure that momentum and awareness don’t drop. If you know someone with childhood cancer, reach out! Many families have reported that they have felt isolated while helping their child through a cancer diagnosis. Offer support and help in whatever way you can.