Making Gains: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – The Clanton Advertiser

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Chilton County Wellness magazine 2021. Copies are available from our office, 1109 Seventh St. N. in Clanton.

Cancer can be an intimidating diagnosis at any age. Getting a cancer diagnosis for your child can be especially difficult.

September is childhood cancer awareness month, and cancer-focused organizations want to share information and support patients and families.

This year, aTeam Ministries in Homewood, which provides support to patients and their families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis, is encouraging Alabama residents to participate in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by praying for and encouraging patients and families to encourage. The ministry creates opportunities to get encouraging cards for children battling cancer. Cards can be mailed or delivered to 1809 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209. More information is available at ateamministries.org.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common childhood cancers are “leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin), rhabdomyosarcoma, retinoblastoma, bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing- sarcoma). ).”

“Unlike many cancers in adults, lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diet and exercise) do not play a major role in a child’s risk of developing cancer,” according to ACS’s Childhood Cancer Fact Sheet. “A few environmental factors, such as radiation exposure, have been linked to an increased risk of some cancers in children. But in some cases, radiation exposure may be unavoidable, such as when a child needs radiation therapy to treat another cancer. If your child develops cancer, it is important to know that it is extremely unlikely that you or your child could have done anything to prevent it.”

Research in recent years has led to more advanced medical treatment for cancer in children, which has led to better outcomes for patients.

Chilton County has several childhood cancer survivors. In 2019, the West End Baptist Church joined the American Cancer Society’s #GoldTogether campaign with its Going #GoldTogether for God’s Children Relay for Life team honoring childhood cancer survivors.

“ACS has asked several communities to focus on childhood cancer, and since we have had four different children through our church to battle – and win – childhood cancer, we asked if we could be that pediatric cancer team,” organizer Sunny Mays said in an interview at the time. “So we made a new team.”

“Due to major advances in treatment in recent decades, 84% of children with cancer now survive for five years or more,” according to the American Cancer Society. “Overall, this is a huge increase since the mid-1970s, when the 5-year survival rate was about 58%. Significant progress has been made against the most common childhood cancers, increasing overall survival rates.”

Fortunately, many childhood cancers are found in the early stages.

“Childhood cancer is uncommon, but it’s important to schedule regular health checkups and have your child checked by a doctor if they have any unusual signs or symptoms that don’t go away, such as: an unusual lump or swelling, unexplained paleness or loss of energy, easy bruising or bleeding, a persistent pain in any part of the body, limping, unexplained fever or illness that will not go away, frequent headache, often with vomiting, sudden eye or facial changes, sudden unexplained weight loss,” according to the American Cancer Society “Most of these symptoms are likely caused by something other than cancer, such as an injury or infection. Still, if your child has any of these symptoms, see a doctor so the cause can be found and treated if necessary.

The closest hospital for pediatric cancer patients in Chilton County is Children’s of Alabama.

“To be such a small community in Chilton County, you definitely have a much proportionally greater number of children in this county who have or have had cancer,” Smile-A-Mile’s Kellie Reece said in a presentation to a Clanton club. . year.

Smile-A-Mile provides patient programs at Children’s of Alabama and funds a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellow in training with the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. The organization offers camps in the summer to give patients a good time despite their diagnosis. A separate camp for siblings is also offered. More information is available on smileamile. com.

For more information about childhood cancer, visit cancer.org/childhood.

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