How many children have to die?
I listened to a clip that featured Gabby Gilfords testimony in hearings on Capitol Hill last week.
“Too many children are dying. Too many children,”she said.
“We must do something,” she said, “It will be hard but the time it now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
And my stomach ached.
Because the passion she and others are displaying for children is only for children who die from a killer with a gun.
There is a heated debate among our politicians for and against gun control. All of our media outlets are covering these highly charged debates.
And I love living in a country where we can express our passions and get things done using that passion as fuel.
But I can’t help but ask “Where is the passion for the 7 children who die every single day from childhood cancer?” Those numbers don’t seem to matter – we rarely – if ever – hear about it on the national news.
But these numbers matter to me and the other parents who lose their children to cancer.
Where is the passion for stopping the killer who murdered our 12 year old son and 6 other children on May 28, 2011? Where is the passion for stopping the killer who is still on the loose taking 7 children and rolling the dice on 46 more every single day?
These numbers are shocking to me.
In 3 days, more children die from cancer than were killed in the recent horrific school shooting.
“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future” – JFK
And people, rightfully so, are outraged at the killer at the school – the gunman – and want to do something – anything – to prevent it happening again.
But are we numb to childhood cancer?
Have we just become accepting of it?
Are these children any less important than children who are gunned down?
Don’t they deserve a voice?
Why are we not demanding more for them?
Are we all willing to continue to gamble that it won’t happen to our children?
Don’t all of our children count?
Don’t children with cancer deserve a full fledge commitment to a “War on Childhood Cancer”?
Fact: The incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years.
Fact: In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer – 1/2 of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old
Fact: On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.
Fact: Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.
Fact: Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers.
Fact: NCI (our tax dollars) spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children’s cancers.
Fact: Childhood cancer is ugly.
Fact: There is no known cause for childhood cancer. This means EVERY child is at risk!! Even yours.
And if we believe the evening news, then we know that children being killed by guns can be prevented if we ban this or that. And people are willing to spend money – whatever it takes – to prevent such killings.
Meanwhile, the lack of available successful treatments for children with cancer is beyond outrageous.
Our son Zack, at age 11, was given smaller doses of adult treatment because not enough children get liver cancer to deserve treatment specifically designed for a child’s growing body.
Side effects of the available treatment are horrible. Children get to spend their days and nights attached to an IV pole and suffer nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, muscle and stomach pains. Children with cancer suffer from swelling, peeling blisters on their skin and sores in their mouth and throat. Children with cancer eat through a feeding tube. Older children with cancer are reduced to wearing diapers again as they lose control of their bodily functions. Children with cancer watch as their families struggle to balance jobs, finances and the daily demands of caring for a child with cancer.
They become sterile from their treatment, they go deaf, they go blind, they have brain damage, they have heart damage, they have speech problems – the list goes on and on…
Fact: Children with cancer want to live.
Fact: Children with cancer deserve a chance.
How many children have to die from cancer before we consider it too many?
And does it only become too many when it is your child?
And you may ignore this blog post and go on about your “normal” life with your healthy children and you may only stop and think you need to take some sort of action when it becomes your child.
Or you can help by contacting your political representatives and tell them that ALL children count and demand more funding for pediatric cancer research. You can contact your representatives with the following links: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
You can also help by making a donation to organizations that support research for childhood cancer. Organizations like St Baldwicks, http://www.stbaldricks.org/filling-the-funding-gap
Alex’s Lemonade Stand http://www.alexslemonade.org/ both focus on childhood research.
I will be a voice.
I will be a voice for those who cannot speak.
I will be a voice for Zack.
I will be a voice for your child and mine.
Because one person can make a difference and every person should try….
And if it makes a difference for just one, then that will be all the difference in the world.
Because don’t all of our children matter?