Jumping on the monkey bars in the playground, running around chasing bubbles and butterflies, catching fireflies, splashing in the water park or attending sports camp are normal things for kids to do in the summer. A kid’s life is all about fun and adventure, or it should be! Unfortunately, for the approximately 880 children that are diagnosed with cancer in Canada every year, their summers are very different. They fight the nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments, the anxiety and fatigue associated with radiation and the numerous side effects of their cancer diagnosis and ultimate treatment protocols!
I have become a strong advocate for CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS and I have had my eyes opened over the past two years as to just what these amazing cancer champions go through just to survive! Participating in the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant has allowed me the opportunity to bring my charity platform to the national level. I want to educate my readers on the severity of a childhood cancer diagnosis and to share some stories of heroic champions who have had to deal with immeasurable challenges in their short lives.
Did you know that approximately 880 Canadian children will be diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer this year? I certainly didn’t. Like any other teenager, I thought I had problems when something didn’t go right at school or when I got excluded from a social event. I now know that those are NOT problems! Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is!
No one knows why a child gets cancer. There are no specific studies to determine risk factors or to outline what child may be susceptible. It just happens and when it does, it is devastating to the child, their families and their friends. Life for that child and their loved ones changes forever. Childhood memories revolve around treatment, hospitals, doctors and nurses.
A diagnosis of cancer, no matter what the type means each child and family are assigned to a team of medical professionals to administer their treatment. Each treatment is called a protocol and each one varies depending on the type of cancer, the age of the child, the stage of the cancer and the clinical trials associated with the cancer type.
We are fortunate in Canada that treatment for Childhood Cancer is available at 17 pediatric centres across the country, the closest to me being CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Most children are commonly treated with a protocol that includes chemotherapy, radiation and most times at least one major surgery.
Thanks to research and more concise treatment protocols, advances in treatment have resulted in the statistic that over 82% of children will survive at least 5 years after diagnosis. This is a major increase compared to the previously recorded 71% in 1987.
Treatments are long, painful and can result in significant side effects that will continue to affect the children as they age. Approximately two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will experience mild to serious long term effects that may include issues with their heart, growth, kidney, neurocognitive abilities and their ability to have children later in life.
Hearing the stories and meeting childhood cancer champions through my host pageant; the Teen Ontario East Pageant has changed my perspective on life and has opened my eyes to the struggles of others.
Over the next few weeks I will be using my blog to raise awareness for childhood cancer in hopes that even one person will decide to donate to a childhood cancer charity. If my blog results in one more donor or one more volunteer offering to assist a childhood cancer charity event then I have made a difference. Kids shouldn’t have to suffer through a cancer diagnosis! Their lives SHOULD be all about playgrounds, laughter and fun!
I proudly wear my GOLD RIBBON Awareness pin in support of all of the young heroes who fight childhood cancer every day! They are my inspiration!
This beautiful young champion is Tyra! Please visit my blog again to read Tyra’s when I share her challenging cancer journey.
Alexa, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario