Helping kids with cancer

We may be nearing the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s obviously a message that bears emphasizing through the year.

There have been a number of fundraising initiatives through September to help cover costs of research, and organizers have been busy not only raising funds to that end but also bolstering awareness about the prevalence of cancer in children.

Kids Cancer Care has had a number of strategies in place to help spread the word – and these efforts need to be ongoing as statistics show that cancer is the number one disease killing children from age six months to young adulthood. It is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children. The Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta reaches out to families during their cancer crisis.

The Foundation provides care and support to Alberta families at every stage in the cancer journey—from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.

Kids Cancer Care is one of only a handful of charities in North America dedicated to fighting the disease on all fronts by funding innovative research in the lab and enhanced care at the hospital, rekindling lost childhoods at camp and creating brighter futures through education scholarships.

Meanwhile, the battle continues – childhood cancer also occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class or geographic region.

Unlike adult cancers, the causes of most childhood cancers are still unknown and are not linked to lifestyle and environmental risk factors. The incidence of childhood cancer is highest in the first five years of life, between ages zero to four years old. Among infants, zero to one year old, the most common malignant cancers are neuroblastomas, followed by leukemias and central nervous system tumours.

For these reasons alone, it’s vital to support initiatives that fight the disease in kids. Officials with Kids Cancer Care have suggested everything from organizing fundraisers on the grassroots level texting KIDS CAN to 303-33 to donate $10 for the cause. Childhood cancer is consistently underfunded, accounting for only three to five per cent of all cancer research funding.

It all makes a significant difference – advances in cancer research and treatments have significantly improved the chances of survival for children in resource-rich countries like Canada. And in Canada today, about 80 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer will survive.

But sadly, survival often comes at a price. Despite advances in research, sixty per cent of children who survive cancer live with permanent side effects, which may include but are not limited to deafness, blindness, growth issues, motor impairments, cognitive difficulties, heart, kidney and fertility issues, psychological, neurological and endocrine disorders and secondary cancers.

To find out more, visit kidscancercare.ab.ca.

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