Posted: September 16, 2016
(huffingtonpost.com) – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and our color is gold. We gild our profile pictures and status updates with it in solidarity, driven to highlight the tiny warriors in our lives—the survivors, those still fighting and the dear ones we’ve lost.
The stories vary from child to child, family to family, connecting us from the moment we get that first, terrible diagnosis. They usually start with the words, “Your child has cancer.”
Ours started with the word “tumor.”
My family was initiated into this club five Septembers ago. Back then, I thought I was aware. I thought donating to charities like Make A Wish and St. Jude made me aware. I thought that since my younger daughter (I’ll call her E) had been through three surgeries by the age of seven for her cleft lip and palate, I was aware. Kids get sick, sometimes really sick. I’ve had to stay with my child in the hospital. I get it.
But I didn’t get it.
Statistics don’t tell the whole story, so what I want to do is make you aware – just a little bit – of what it’s like to watch your child live with this devastating illness.
It’s important to understand that cancer isn’t just one disease. Its many forms and iterations are as unique as the children who get it. Cancer plays out differently depending on the age of the child, the type of cancer, the stage of cancer and the prevalence of the disease. That last one is important, because rare cancers tend to have much lower survival rates than cancers with clinically proven protocols.