September is Worldwide Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. One month out of 12 is dedicated to increased advocacy and awareness; however, awareness needs to happen across all months in order to educate citizens and make an impact in the pediatric cancer field. Every year, thousands of children and their families are affected by pediatric cancer and as a community, it is imperative that we stand up for a cause and commit to advancing research, and ultimately ensuring a brighter future for youth.
Pediatric cancer has more than 43 different forms, each one having a different treatment. More often than not, children receive adult forms of chemotherapy and are left with dangerous side effects that have to be kept in close check. Funding is too dependent on short-term grants, and with pharmaceutical companies not allowing the use of certain drugs, people are giving up. This can even lead some families to start looking into the likes of Arkansas MMJ card FAQs or other states that could potentially allow for medical marijuana treatment options. Right now in the 21st century, many would associate lots of advancements with pediatric cancer, but the truth is little advancements have been made. However, the major medical breakthroughs that have been made (like those around medical marijuana products such as Blessed CBD oil, to name one example) should be kept as a reminder to the community that these are just baby steps and that pediatric cancer is dependent on scientific discoveries that will hopefully find better suited treatment options and even cures.
Over the past decade, increased awareness has been seen in the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration. During Obama’s Administration, he signed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act; this put in place a pediatric cancer research fund for 10 years. In addition to this act, Obama also set up a Precision Medicine Initiative, investing in research with the purpose of understanding the origin of cancer and how best to deal with its effects. President Trump said in the State of the Union Address that “many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.”
Along with this, Trump has also signed the Reed’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Treatment Access and Research Act into law. This act will expand funding to research pediatric cancer, explore safe treatment options, identify childhood cancer rates and enhance the quality of life for children that have previously been affected by cancer. Both of these acts are steps in the right direction, but there are still great improvements needed for awareness and research.
Pediatric cancer is devastating, and unfortunately, the cause is unknown. It limits the dreams of youth and hinders their future lives. During September, those taken by childhood cancer are honored, but this should be happening on a daily basis because pediatric cancer does not end when September ends. With this said, I encourage all community members to take a stand and increase activities involved with awareness, as well as the prevention of childhood cancer. Whether this be 5K runs, running an Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a bake sale, every little bit counts. Kids are worth more than 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s funding.
Carly Beck is a senior at Myers Park High School. She submitted this story as an extension of her graduation project, which focused on pediatric cancer research, funding and awareness. As part of her project, she chose to join the bone marrow donation registry.