September is here, or as we call it: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) – which, as you’d imagine, is a pretty big deal at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the #1 private funder of pediatric cancer research. Every year at this time there are blogs, social posts, invitations to change your Facebook profile or use a hashtag on Twitter related to CCAM – but this year you’ll also be seeing something new.
Although CCAM helps build awareness of pediatric cancers, there’s a need for a more permanent rallying cry. We don’t want September to be one month when people tweet and share Facebook updates about kids with cancer and then move on – after all, somewhere in the world, every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. We purposely created this campaign to bring this reality front and center.
First, though, a little background.
The Reason We Exist
When our first head-shaving event to raise money for pediatric cancers was held in 2000, those behind it could not have imagined that St. Baldrick’s would grow to become the largest private funder of pediatric cancer research grants. In the past twenty years, we have been successful in making sure the best research gets access to the funding needed to have a chance at breakthroughs – which can lead to better, more effective treatments to save kids’ lives. (We share some of those breakthroughs on this blog post.)
Our scientific review process is unparalleled in the pediatric cancer research field, and we don’t limit our focus to one particular type of cancer – so the projects run the range of cancers from rare to common, and from those with high survival rates to those with extremely low odds of survivorship – or tragically, no cure at all.
Our grants support the best possible research wherever it takes place. We are especially focused on areas like growing the next generation of pediatric cancer researchers, survivorship issues, collaboration among researchers, and the very important infrastructure needs hospitals and researchers have to treat kids on clinical trials. It’s all so that we can be as efficient and effective as possible with the funds that our volunteers raise and our supporters generously donate, with the hopes that we can help defy the odds for children in the years to come. (You can read about the grant types here.)
The DFY Campaign Is Born
Every two minutes somewhere in the world, a child is diagnosed with cancer, and in the U.S. one in five of those children will not survive.
Although the odds of survival have improved over the years, they remain a terrifying reality to a family receiving a pediatric cancer diagnosis. When faced with a child’s cancer diagnosis, a family often thinks of the odds in this way:
- First of all, it’s “What are the odds that it would happen to MY CHILD?”
- Then, it’s “What are the odds we’ll get through this?”
- And, if there is a good prognosis, “What are the odds my child’s long-term health won’t be compromised?”
So, this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we also question: “How can we #DFYtheOdds?”
#DFYchildhoodCancers – More Than a Hashtag
In order to #DFYchildhoodCancers one must first understand the harsh reality of the statistics, which many St. Baldrick’s volunteers and Honored Families know too well.
- 1 in 264: the odds of a child being diagnosed with cancer by age 20.
- 1 in 5: the number of kids who won’t survive a cancer diagnosis in the U.S.
- 99 percent: how many children who, after surviving pediatric cancer, have a chronic health problem by age 50.
By supporting St. Baldrick’s, you are helping fund a vast range of lifesaving pediatric cancer research – for cancers such as DIPG (for which there is no known cure yet) or neuroblastoma (whose relapse is nearly always fatal). You also help fund the promising projects underway to improve existing treatments, making them less toxic with fewer side effects.
But there is more that we can do together.
How to Help in September and Beyond
If you know someone who has been touched by a pediatric cancer, you know just how devastating that can be. And, sadly, you also know that families of those diagnosed might struggle with a “new normal” – looking for a sense of normalcy after the diagnosis, or the treatment, or the passing away of a loved one.
As we launch this campaign – which we will continue to build on after September – we will be sharing more ways you can get involved.
Thanks to supporters like you over the past twenty years, many advancements have been made in pediatric cancer research, resulting in kids’ lives saved and lives improved. But the hard work continues – to honor the legacies of the one child out of five that passed away, and to give hope for brighter futures for families that survive a cancer diagnosis but face a long road ahead.
We are grateful for the support of the St. Baldrick’s community – the volunteers, the shavees, the families, the donors, and the researchers – and we invite you to continue to join and support us (by getting involved or donating) in this quest to #DFYchildhoodCancers.
Join us today and #DFYchildhoodCancers!