We’ve all been there. We see a bald headed beauty on a St. Jude commercial and think “aww, that’s sad.” and go about our day, right? Unless you can relate to that bald headed beauty because your child has cancer. Or you know a child with cancer. Then it becomes a harsh, unfair reality. It becomes a battle that desperately needs more awareness, funding and help.
I have a very love/hate relationship with those commercials. On the one hand, any awareness for childhood cancer is a good thing, but on the other, people literally think that is what childhood cancer looks like. A beautiful bald headed toddler running around with a smile on their face, a bow on their head and an IV pump in tow… or a 15 year old boy getting a visit from a local athlete. While that can be a small glimpse of childhood cancer, that is not the majority of childhood cancer.
You know, childhood cancer is UGLY. It’s grueling. It’s heart wrenching. It sends parents to funeral homes, nurses home in tears, siblings home alone and hospital beds full. It brings a grown man to his knees and doctors running in circles trying to save a 2 year old from going into respiratory failure.
Childhood cancer is full of mucositis, fevers, skin changes, vomiting, hair loss, a cold for you, a death sentence for them. It’s literally watching the light in a child’s eyes fade. Have you ever had strep throat? Multiply that by 5 million, add sores not just in your mouth, but all down your GI tract and then light them on fire. That’s how I could only assume the pain feels like when I watch kids get hooked up to a pain pump and not even be able to swallow for days on end. That is a common side effect of chemotherapy… THAT is childhood cancer.
I wrote a blog a month ago, The Happy Floor describing the strength and the resiliency that kids who have to battle childhood cancer have, but I never want you to get that confused with the hell they go through. These kids and their parents are the strongest people I know, but shouldn’t have to fight a battle never meant for them.
Watching a child battle cancer is hard to look at… this I know. But can you imagine watching them die because there isn’t enough funding and research to support a more humane cure? Because I have.
Do better, America.