Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. In Texas alone, 1,700 children and adolescents are diagnosed annually. Thousands will undergo treatment for their disease and most will experience long-term effects from cancer if they survive past childhood.
Surprisingly, the number of diagnosed childhood cancer cases has not declined in nearly 20 years, despite major medical advancements.
As disheartening as these statements are, there are millions of people working to decrease the risk of cancer and promote awareness about childhood diseases. That's why September is so important. The United States observes this month as "National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month." The goal is to highlight the types of cancer that largely affect children and raise funds to support research projects and families impacted by cancer.
Wondering how you can help make a difference and contribute to these efforts? Here are some of the best ways you can support children with cancer.
Donate blood. Historically, Carter BloodCare sees fewer donations during the summertime, which can leave hospitals running low on vital blood type matches needed for young cancer patients. Use September as a time for ramping up donations and supplying hospitals with all blood types. To find a donation center, visit Carter BloodCare's website. You can also attend the 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation's drives on September 18 or September 25.
Register as a bone marrow donor. Life-threatening childhood diseases like leukemia and lymphoma often call for a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Unfortunately, finding the perfect match for a patient can be extremely difficult. That's why signing up to be a bone marrow donor is such an incredibly important way to support cancer victims. See if you're someone's perfect match and if you can save a life by joining The Match Registry today.
Make a donation. Childhood cancer may seem like an overwhelming problem that no small donation can affect, but in reality, every dollar is a step towards making medical progress. For instance, at Children's Cancer Research Fund, every $1 you donate secures an additional $18 from federal funding and other sources. This leads to more clinical trials and better treatment options for many young patients.
Host a fundraiser. Creating and running a fundraising event may sound like a huge commitment, and it is, but there are ways to make it easy. St. Baldrick's Foundation can help you host a head-shaving event among other types of fundraisers. Cure Childhood Cancer has a variety of fundraising ideas and can help you get started. Talk to your co-workers, friends and family to see what kind of event you can feasibly host over the next month. Even something as simple as a group financial donation is hugely beneficial.
Take movies, toys, games and other items to a pediatric hospital. Cook Children's Medical Center has an on-going wish list for items. They're looking for everything from stuffed animals and board games to toiletries and clothing. Head to Walmart for a shopping trip, then donate the items to the facility. Your small effort will go a long way towards helping a cancer patient smile.
Update your profile picture on Facebook. The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) has released a gold filter for profile pictures that advocates taking a stand against old, toxic cancer treatments. By simply changing your profile picture, you'll help promote research for a true cure.
Every small effort this month can have an impact on a child who is struggling with cancer, as well as their families and friends. Learn more about how you can help by visiting childrenscancer.org.