Wear GOLD to class this week in recognition of this important issue!
This has touched the hearts of many and especially the families at AFS. Please support this local Fund in recognition of former AFS dancer, Maddie Harrill. www.butterflyfund.org
The families of Emily Barger and Maddie Harrill established the Butterfly Fund at the East Tennessee Foundation in memory of their daughters. Both of these beautiful little girls were diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, in 2007. Sadly, both of these girls passed away just weeks apart during the summer of 2008.
The Butterfly Fund supports research, treatment and services dedicated to the defeat of childhood cancers. To date they have donated $215,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and $20,000 to CureSearch.
ABOUT CHILDHOOD CANCER
GET THE FACTS ABOUT CHILDHOOD CANCER
Cancerous cells grow and spread much faster than normal cells, and are often found clustered together to form a tumor. Tumor growth poses two key threats: it can cause localized damage, and it can metastasize (spread) to harm other organs of the body. At this basic biological level, childhood cancer and adult cancer are similar—but once we take a closer look, the profound differences between childhood and adult cancer become acutely apparent:
- Adult cancer is more likely to be discovered in the earliest stages of the disease, whereas 80% of childhood cancer cases are diagnosed only after the disease has metastasized and spread to other areas of the body
- Unlike many adult cancers, childhood cancers are not linked to lifestyle factors, which rules out proactive measures to prevent cancer cell development in children
- “Childhood cancer” is a general term to describe more than 12 types (and countless subtypes) of cancer; however, in the last 20 years, only two new drugs have been developed to treat children with cancer. Each type/subtype of childhood cancer requires a unique, specialized course of treatment, which makes finding a cure for every child extremely challenging and highlights the crucial importance of additional childhood cancer research.
- Some forms of cancer only affect children under a certain age, but even in cases when a child develops a type of cancer that adults can also suffer from (i.e. lymphoma), different treatment protocols are necessary—simply lowering the dose of an adult treatment is not an appropriate or effective option.
DIAGNOSING CHILDHOOD CANCER
Each year in the United States approximately 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer.
Many childhood cancers have much higher survival rates when they are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Unfortunately, childhood cancers are sometimes overlooked or misdiagnosed because early symptoms are mistakenly attributed to more common injuries or illnesses. It is recommended that children have regular medical check-ups, and that parents pay close attention to the development of unusual signs or chronic symptoms, such as:
- Persistent fever, nausea, or illness, often accompanied by vomiting
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Unusual lump or swelling (particularly around the neck, abdomen, chest, pelvis, or armpits)
- Loss of energy and pale complexion
- Headaches, often with early morning vomiting
- Lingering pain in one area of the body
- Abrupt vision changes
- A whitish color behind the pupil
- Sudden weight loss
Genetics may predispose some children to developing a specific type of cancer—if you are concerned that your family history puts your child at a heightened risk, discuss your worries with your child’s pediatrician. He or she may recommend imaging tests (i.e. MRI, x-ray), additional screening tests, and/or a biopsy if your child presents with an abnormal lump or tumor. The biopsy will involve removing some or all of the cells within the tumor for closer examination under a microscope.
One of the most challenging aspects of childhood cancer is that it can take on many forms, each requiring a distinct, specialized course of treatment. Knowledge is a powerful weapon in the fight against childhood cancer, and the links below will arm you with detailed information about the different types of childhood cancer, including: key facts, symptoms, treatment protocols, and late effects.
- Bone Cancers
- Brain Cancers
- Rhabdoid Tumors
- Wilms Tumor
If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, you may feel understandably overwhelmed and anxious—the American Cancer Society’s publication Children With Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis offers practical insights and ideas to help your family cope and move forward after the diagnosis is made. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this fight, and that there are many resources and support networks you can reach out to for help during this difficult time.
Although education may not seem like a priority in light of the pressing medical issues your child is facing, it is important to make an effort to keep up with schoolwork, despite extended absences. There are a number of educational accommodations and options for medically compromised children (i.e. home-based teaching/tutors), and maintaining open lines of communication with your child’s principal and teachers is an important step to prepare for a successful return to school.
For many children with cancer, school represents health and normalcy, and can be a safe place for learning, fun, and social interaction while providing an escape from the all-consuming world of cancer and treatments. The effort to further your child’s education despite illness also sends a clear message of hope, and is a constant reassurance that you believe in your child’s future.
In the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease —yet all types of childhood cancers combined receive only 4% of the U.S. federal cancer research funding.
Childhood Cancer Statistics
Each year, the parents of approximately 15,700 kids will hear the words “your child has cancer.” Across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economics, this disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Despite major advances – from an overall survival rate of 10 percent just fifty years ago to nearly 90 percent today, for many rare cancers, the survival rate is much lower. Furthermore, the number of diagnosed cases annually has not declined in nearly 20 years.
- Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer.
- 12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.
- Children’s cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups.
- The average age of children diagnosed is six.
- More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
- 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
- There are approximately 375,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States.
- That equates to 1 in 530 adults ages 20-39.
Information from http://www.acco.org/