September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month…not an easy or feel-good topic, right? Well, that is precisely why we want to talk about it! Maybe you’ve even seen the “Be Bold Go Gold” hashtags (#beboldgogold) around this month and wondered why it’s such a big deal. Unfortunately, it’s a big deal because cancer kills more children than any other disease in the United States and research for treatments fit for a child’s body lag behind. And there’s a double whammy – the incidence of cancer among U.S. adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group aside from those over 65 years. Unlike adult cancers, the causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors. This means childhood cancer affects every ethnic group, every socioeconomic class, and every geographic region.
So what can we do? First, we can be aware of the underfunding of childhood cancer research. Click here for ways to help and donate. We can also be aware that even when childhood cancer is cured, these families must often accept long-term effects including cognitive, emotional, and physical changes (two-thirds of patients will have long-lasting chronic conditions from treatment). To learn how to better support families facing childhood cancer in your community, read this list of tips. It’s time to be bold and talk about childhood cancer!