September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Three years ago I was enjoying a carefree life with my friends, unaware that for one of them life was about to change forever. Her son Daniel, was 12 and just beginning his new life in secondary school. An amazingly talented sports fanatic, full of divilment and fun, a boy everyone wanted to be around, knowing wherever he was fun followed.
Then Dan began to feel overly tired, but he was still doing a lot of sport and with his new longer day at school we thought it was ‘normal’. However after a while he went for a check up and was immediately transferred to hospital. Within days he was diagnosed with leukemia and within twentyfour hours of diagnosis was transferred to Dublin, had a hickman line inserted and began chemotherapy.
Danny fought so hard. There is a saying used by those who have children being treated for cancer, ‘fight like a child’, only someone who witnesses the resillience of children, as they battle the most awful side effects of chemo, can appreciate what that saying really means. Sadly as many of you know Danny’s side effects got the better of him and, despite a bone marrow transplant and the care and love of professionals and family, he could do no more after eleven hard months of fighting. This November his family and friends will be two years without him. They miss him every day.
There is little I can do as a friend to his mum and dad, family and friends, to help ease their pain, but I can do all in my power to promote awareness of children’s cancer. Because it is relatively rare for a child to get cancer, it is not as profitable for drug companies to research and find cures and treatment. As a result the treatments offered our children continue to have horrific side effects often having lasting effects on their future lives if they are cured, and in many cases can lead to a shorter life expectancy. Children with cancer deserve better.
So this September I’ve joined the Go Gold Project online in order to highlight the fact that children do get cancer. Approximately four children or teenagers a week are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland. Daniel was one.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someday in the future an alternative to chemotherapy were discovered and many of those cancers affecting our little ones were wiped out? So this September please spare a thought for all those, who as you read are battling with all they have to live, something most of us take for granted. Maybe those of you with twitter and facebook accounts will consider ‘going gold’ too and help turn the online world gold in support of so many who have fought and won, and to remember the young warriors like Daniel who didn’t.
Photo from Aoibheanns Pink Tie.