Member Spotlight - Continued
Truth be told, I had never met a child that was affected by childhood cancer. How could I have been in the dark about this life altering illness that affects thousands of kids each year?
Many of you in the community know the story of my daughter, Jailah Armstrong. Jay, as we like to refer to her, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer at the age of twelve. Before she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, I really didn't understand the impact childhood cancer had on so many lives. We spent many days in Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital receiving top notch care as she f ought for her life. It was there at the hospital that my eyes were opened to the thousands of children as well as families that were also walking in my same shoes. We were not the first family to be affected by childhood cancer and until research and funding is increased to battle this unforgiving and unrelentless sickness, we definitely will not be the last.
According to Curesearch.org, every day 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. Of those 43 children diagnosed, 12% do not survive. Childhood cancer does not discriminate against gender, socio-economic status or race. More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year and the average child is daignosed at age six. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's website reports that more than 400 of the 12,500 children diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year can be found here in Georgia. But the most important statistic I believe is the amount of money that is contributed to help battle childhood cancer. Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers.
However, the National Cancer Institute spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children's cancers. In dollar terms, National Cancer Institute's funding for pediatric clinical trials is $26.4 million while funding for AIDS research is $254 million, and breast cancer is $584 million (icareicure.org, 2015).
It is because of the statistics referenced above that our efforts are so important. Every year, families of children affected by childhood cancer in our community rally together in a joint effort to raise monies as well as awareness for this worthy cause. We paint the community gold with bows in an effort to bring attention to this life altering disease that un-expectantly steals the childhood and innocence of many. We not only sell gold bows, but we also organize a community car wash, sell baked goods and lemonade. We have a two-fold mission with our efforts and they are to raise funds and raise awareness. It is our hopes that many will see our efforts and join in our rally to help find a cure for childhood cancer.
When Jailah was asked to documnet her experience with dealing with childhood cancer for a school assignment, her opening sentence was "Your present situation is not your final destination." It is because of her purposefulness to live and defeat the cancer that had attacked her body that makes this month so important to her and others that have or is presently traveling the same road. Childhood cancer month is a reminder that they are fighters, they are survivers, and they are an inspiration to many. But we must also use this month to pay tribute to these valiant fighters by supporting research efforts as well as organizations that assist these children and their families in their time of need. I challenge my community to make childhood cancer month just as important of a cause as breast cancer month. After all, we are talking about our future lawyers, doctors, teachers, mayors and presidents.
Submitted by Sis. Vakesha Gordon & Jailah Armstrong