September is Children's Cancer Awareness Month

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While September is usually "Back to School" month for many children in America, thousands of children don't go back because they are undergoing treatment for pediatric cancer. Because of this, September is Children's Cnacetr Awareness Month, bringing attention to the #1 disease killer of children in the US.

September is commonly known as the "Back to School" Month, but thousands of American children will not be in their seats the first day of school because they are undergoing treatment for cancer. September is recognized as Children's Cancer Awareness Month to bring attention to the #1 disease killer of children. Cancer kills more children ages 15 and under than AIDS, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and congenital anomalies COMBINED. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer each day. 15 children a day die from their cancer.

Children's cancers range from blood cancers, such as the most popular children's cancer, leukemia, to rare solid tumors, such as the liver cancer hepatoblastoma, to conditions that are cancerous and so rare they have not yet been given a name. Parents should be aware of any physical changes in their children; most children's cancers are asymptomatic, meaning there aren't really any symptoms. Parents should bring to their pediatrician's attention any of the following changes in their child: continued, unexplained weight loss; headaches, sometimes with vomiting; increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back or legs; lumps, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits; excessive bruising or bleeding; constant infections; a whitish color behind the pupil; persistent nausea or vomiting without nausea; constant tiredness or noticeable paleness; eye or vision changes which occur suddenly and persist; recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin (as stated in "Childhood Cancer" by Honna Janes-Hodder & Nancy Keene).

Children undergoing treatment for cancer endure the same procedures known to adults --- broviacs or ports, spinal taps, biopsies, chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, lengthy hospital stays, infections, bone marrow transplants, cord blood transplants. The typical treatment length for the most common children's cancer, leukemia, is 3 years, but the good news is that leukemia has a 95% cure rate. That cannot be said for other children's cancers. And, if a child's cancer can be cured, the child faces a lifetime of tests, possible surgeries, secondary cancers, and disabilities due to their initial treatment.

Organizations such as the Luke Neuhedel Foundation work to provide a better quality of life for children with cancer and to aid families with the mounting expenses of their child's treatment. Like many "grassroots" organizations, the Luke Neuhedel Foundation was founded by people who know about children's cancer personally. Luke Neuhedel was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at age 9 months. His parents were told Luke would not turn 1. Fortunately, Luke responded to his treatment and was able to live with his cancer for 32 months. When Luke died at age 3 and 1/2 from cancer, his family took their experience with Luke and worked to create something positive --- the Luke Neuhedel Foundation. LNF strives to improve the quality of life for children with cancer through education, research, and aid to families. Since 2002 LNF has helped thousands of children and their families in the US who are battling cancer.

The Luke Neuhedel Foundation provides information about children's cancer on their website at LNF's website also lists many events and activities for children and adults, individuals and groups who would like to help children with cancer. For September LNF has planned their Annual New Toy Drive, an Awareness Program for Schools, and a Skating Fundraiser. LNF's programs and accomplishments are achieved by a small group of volunteers. LNF can be contacted at 516-882-9183,, or LNF, PO Box 137, Massapequa Park, NY 11762. Most of all, LNF has many families waiting for financial aid to help with their expenses, particularly rent, utilities, food, and funerals. 100% of all funds raised by LNF go to children with cancer --- LNF has no employees, salaries, or benefits, just volunteers. LNF is a 501c3 non-profit charity registered with New York State and Federal governments.

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Rebecca Neuhedel
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