Today is World Cancer Awareness day. It is a day where we can all take a moment to remember those we have lost and celebrate those who have fought and won.
Within my own family I have a brother and sister who are alive and fighting fit having had cancer. I have three cousins who are also survivors, all testimony to the wonderful advances the world has made in detection and treatment of Cancer.
Yet every day in this house I feel touched by cancer, for not a day goes by without a thought for young Daniel.
I remember so well the first two weeks of Daniels diagnosis. He was twelve, soon to be thirteen. His parents were told he had leukemia and so was he. Within hours he was on his way to Dublin for Chemotherapy and bone marrow biopsy, and they couldn’t stop his tears, a brave, strong boy, obviously very frightened.
were to be coming home. Instead I read that Daniel had not responded to Chemo. He had a rare, more complicated form of Leukemia than they had hoped. They would treat him with a new drug which was only developed in the past fifteen years. Fingers crossed as this was his only hope.
Thankfully the drug changed everything and Daniels body responded to Chemo over the next many months. Without that drug, he would have died quickly. As it turned out young Dan didn’t make it anyway, but at least his family know everything possible was done.
I well remember at the time spreading the word that it is all very well to be putting our hands into our pockets to support the wonderful cancer charities around us, but if we really want to do something for cancer we need to focus more on research. If we want to make a real difference in the future we need to be able to treat cancers like leukemia, without the treatment killing our children. For that is what happened in Daniels case. When Daniel died he was cancer free. It was a viral infection which killed him, coupled with the very serious side effects the chemotherapy and radiotherapy had had on his young body.
Did you know that most drug companies are not actively researching childhood cancers, as it is deemed per head of population to be a rare illness with very little profit in it? Yet this week alone the parents of at least four children or teenagers here in Ireland, will hear the news that their child has cancer, and will walk for the first time along the corridor which will lead them to St Johns Ward, Crumlin.
So today I am spreading my bit of awareness. Please consider donating to cancer research, particularly childhood cancer research. If Daniel had been born fifteen years earlier there would have been no treatment possible. Our children deserve every chance at life and it is our money which can and will make a difference.
It is too late for Daniel but who knows which one of us in the future will be glad our child is at least given a chance.