Imagine

Imagine

You’re a parent of at least one child and you’ve never heard the words “childhood cancer” in person. In fact, you didn’t even know it existed until you saw a St. Jude’s commercial of bald headed beautiful children on an oncology unit. You’re oblivious to the world that is childhood cancer, and who could blame you?

Imagine

Your sweet kiddo has had a fever on and off for multiple weeks. You’ve been to the pediatrician and diagnosed with X, Y and Z. No reason to suspect anything different, because again, you’ve never heard the words childhood cancer in person and it’s never even been a thought in your mind. You treat the diagnosis and continue on with normal life… why wouldn’t you?

Imagine

It’s been multiple weeks of “cold like symptoms” and the pediatrician is starting to sound concerned. And so are you. But concerned for cancer? Not a chance. You’ve never heard those words spoken in person. Kids aren’t supposed to get cancer, so why would that thought even cross your mind? Unaware of the pandemic of childhood cancer… and who could blame you? If the National Institute of Health is only providing 4% of all research funding to childhood cancer (which is then split up between the dozens of different cancers), why would you think this is something that could happen to your child? “IT’S RARE” they say.

Imagine

Your pediatrician tells you to go to the ER for labs and imaging. Your parent gut tells you something more is going on. You start researching and the first 5 things that pop up on your search page are “leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumor, neuroblastoma, bone cancer…” You struggle to catch a breath. You look back at your kid and think there’s no possible way a fever on and off means anything different than a viral infection. There’s no way. Childhood cancer is so grossly underfunded, the awareness is severely lacking, so why would you think anything different?

Imagine

You are in the ER, your child is given an IV, labs are drawn and in walk two oncologists. They must be in the wrong room, you thought. They introduce themselves as pediatric oncology/hematology physicians and it’s the last thing you remember hearing for 3 days. The next several days are a blur, you remember hearing the words cancer and treatment, but you can’t remember much else. You cling tight to your family and as you look around the unit, you see a multitude of other kids who received the same news at some point.

Imagine

Treatment for childhood cancer varies depending on the COG protocol and which cancer your child is battling. Some treatment lasts 6 months and some treatment lasts 3 years. You’re starting to learn chemotherapy drugs by their name and side affects, something you should never of had to do… because kids shouldn’t get cancer. You’re starting to learn that childhood cancer treatment options are severely limited. You’re starting to learn what taking Bactrim every week means and what steroids do. You’re starting to settle into a life that you would never have imagined, not in 1 million years.

Imagine

I am asking you to imagine these scenarios, because every single day in the United States, 43 kids get diagnosed with cancer. I am asking you to imagine these scenarios, because 1 in 8 children will not survive childhood cancer. I am asking you to imagine these scenarios, as HARD as they are, because unfortunately, this could be your child, too.

These scenarios need to be imagined if we want change within the childhood cancer research world. Each of us needs to picture us as a a mom or a dad of a child with cancer and think what WE would do, if that were us. There’s can’t be anymore “I can’t imagine” statements. The reality is, parents of children with cancer don’t get to not imagine because it is their reality. We owe them the uncomfortableness within ourselves of imaging we have a child with cancer, too. We HAVE to imagine because if we are imagining their child being our child, we would run up to the top of the mountain and scream how grossly underfunded childhood cancer research is. We would scream that 43 kids get diagnosed with cancer daily. We would scream that DIPG has a 1% survival rate- the same as in 1962. We would scream that childhood cancer is a PANDEMIC and is wreaking havoc on the community, despite them telling us it is rare. And you know what else we would scream? That every single child in this world is worth more than 4%. Every single one. I’m willing to picture your child as my own, will you do the same and fight with me?

Imagine.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

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Join Erin Tracy, a pediatric oncology nurse in Jacksonville, Florida as she continues her quest of Going For The Cure of childhood cancers.

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