With Christmas just over a week away (eek!) and the new year upon us, I originally planned to write a cheery, festive post about the talented and hard-working clinicians and academics who’ve inspired us this year and the new partners we’re excited to work with in 2017. However, my mind, heart, and soul are marinating on a heavier topic.
A neighbor and former classmate of one of my twins was diagnosed with leukemia in August. She recently celebrated her fourth birthday without hair but with remarkable and enduring courage. Like her mom, this girl is stoic.
Her diagnosis has affected my daughter deeply, and as we’ve followed their long and winding treatment roller coaster, we’ve had some tough questions. Along with the inevitable spiritual questions about why God would allow a bright, energetic child to suddenly become so gravely ill, we’ve tried to field more practical questions such as “What do they do at the hospital?” and “Can we give her the money in my piggy bank [a whopping $1.27] to pay the doctors?” Sigh.
As if the emotional, financial and logistical toll of cancer isn’t enough, one of the most crushing aspects of childhood cancer is the limited treatment protocols appropriate for its youngest victims. Despite continued advances in cancer research, doctors and scientists are still racing to identify treatments appropriate for the unique developmental considerations of young children. Many treatment options designed for adults may work at the onset, but they carry the risk of secondary cancers and other long-term health problems.
The American Childhood Cancer Organization is one of the several organizations addressing the unique challenges of childhood cancer, from supporting patients and family members with practical information and resources to promoting new therapeutic approaches specific to children. Their website has a wealth of information about how to contribute or otherwise get involved.
Also, if we haven’t mentioned it lately, donate blood. What better excuse do you need to lay back and read a magazine or catch up on social media, knowing that while you’re enjoying your free cookies your pint of blood can provide life-saving transfusions for children affected by cancer?
So, as 2016 comes to a close, consider making a year-end contribution to a cancer support organization, make a new year’s resolution to start donating blood on a regular basis, and/or find other creative ways to help a struggling friend or neighbor…‘Tis the season of giving, after all.