September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 13, 2013 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Sean Dever. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Sean’s fund.
Since the beginning of the month, you have all read and been touched by some pretty amazing childhood cancer children and their families. All of these stories relay the human spirit’s ability to withstand the most trying of circumstances, but I would like you to take a minute and remember those children are not here with us today because cancer took them away. Now I would like you to think of the children who have yet to be diagnosed. Tomorrow it is estimated that 36 more children in the US will be diagnosed with cancer – and 36 more the next day, and the next, and the next. Everyday seven children will die from cancer.
While these are pretty scary and terrifying statistics, and your first thought might be to run like hell from them, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, we cannot run any more. We all have the ability to do something TODAY for children with cancer, and those yet to be diagnosed. I used to be worse than those running away; I used to think it would never happen to my child…until it did. Don’t be like me!
In July of 2007 my son, Sean, was diagnosed with bone cancer, osteosarcoma, and subsequently had to have his left leg amputated. The next year was filled with 30 rounds of chemo, numerous surgeries, and lots of physical therapy. As you can imagine, our family was scared, worried and, yes, even terrified about what life would be like for this athletic, high-spirited, and funny 11-year-old. We held on to our faith that Sean would be OK.
We also reached out to those in our community who have lived this nightmare, and unfortunately we had a list. I first heard the word osteosarcoma in the fall of 2002 when a young man named Sam Robb, who was a sophomore at the high school where I work, was diagnosed. Sam had just been named the school’s quarterback during the first varsity football game at our new school. The cancer was above his left knee. I saw him on crutches. I saw him walking the halls with no hair. I saw him standing on the sideline watching his friends and teammates continue the football season.
I also heard the word Ewing’s sarcoma that year as well. A kindergartener at the grade school that shares our campus was diagnosed with bone cancer in his fibula. I would occasionally hear tidbits of information about him.
Sam died two weeks before Sean’s diagnosis. The cancer had come back in his lungs. Although a brave Sam and a brave surgeon tried to remove the tumor, Sam died on the operating table. We now join the Robb family whenever possible to help raise funds for childhood cancer in Sam’s name.
Today, Sean is doing well. During the past four years, he has played basketball, lacrosse, football and he even wrestles for his high school team. He is running and doing everything a 17-year-old should do. He lost his leg but he has not let that stop him for a minute. It is truly amazing to watch him. He never complains and although things do not come easy he just works harder to reach whatever goal he has set in front of him. This past summer a college lacrosse coach saw him play goalie during a tournament and asked how his grades were!
The experts say childhood cancer has a cure rate of 75% today, but those numbers can be misleading: Sean’s cancer has an 80% cure rate, leukemia is up to 90% or so, but A.L.L. leukemic is 98% while A.M.L. leukemia is only at 50%, some brain cancers are at 5%. These numbers are all over the place but it is always 100% when it is your kid.
Children who survive childhood cancer are left with lots of long-term side-effects. Many have cognitive problems, hearing loss, heart problems, kidney failure, and numerous other issues. This is what we are all fighting and working so hard for. We all want survivors to look like Sean. Our family stands on the sidelines able to watch Sean because we stand on the shoulders of those who raised monies for research years ago – and we want the same for other families.
Awareness = Funds = Research = Cure.