It’s September 30th and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is coming to an end. The few gold ribbons that have existed for the past month will soon be completely overshadowed by floods of pink. However, I’m not going to talk or complain about the over-commercialization of the whole pink movement now. I’ll leave that for some time in the near future.
First, I want to talk about some gold ribbons. In particular, I want to speak about these gold ribbons in the following image.
That’s a lot of ribbons, right? That’s over 2500 tiny gold ribbons. Now put a child’s face behind each one of them. That’s how many children we lost to cancer this past year, just here in the United States. Worldwide, take all those ribbons and multiply them by about 50. Want to envision how many children will be diagnosed with cancer next year? Take that image and multiply it by 7… and again, that’s just the US.
Every time you hear the media or the government tell you some child has been diagnosed or died from a “rare” cancer, remember that picture above. Then remember that those ribbons represent the number of children who die every single year due to a so-called rare cancer. 2 classrooms filled with children dying every single week.
When the Zika virus came to the US, the government rushed into action and dedicated over a billion dollars for research. At that time, I believe only a handful of people had even been diagnosed with it here in the US. A billion dollars… that’s 10 years worth of the funding that goes to all childhood cancers combined from the government.
As Childhood Cancer Awareness month comes to a close, I think we really should be asking, “Why do we have to fight to raise awareness in the first place?”. It’s a valid question I think. If any other disease killed a classroom full of children even once, the outrage and political fallout would be swift, immediate, and dramatic. Yet we lose a classroom full of children to cancer ever few days and there is barely a word spoken about it. When someone does speak about it, it’s always described as being “rare”. Is more than 1 in 300 children getting cancer really rare?
So why don’t we hear more about it? Why isn’t the government doing anything? Sadly, and this is just my opinion, it comes down to the same fundamentals as most things, money, and votes. The number of kids getting cancer, though high in terms of the percentages, is not a big enough part of our population to make those in power raise an eyebrow. Kids don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay lobbyists, and they don’t contribute to political campaigns. Even when you lump in their parents and families, it’s not enough to swing the “give a crap” needle for most in government. Of course, they know it’s happening, and now and then they make a token gesture by increasing funding by a few million dollars while at the same time spending billions for adult cancers.
Now while funding is lacking, alarms aren’t being raised because of the so-called rarity of childhood cancer. Imagine if the media covered each childhood cancer death with the same fervor that they covered shootings by police or terrorist acts. Perhaps by the end of the first week, when the public had heard close to 50 reports of children dying, maybe, just maybe, the public would become alarmed. Of course, I think that’s why it’s brushed under the rug and labeled rare. Imagine the panic that might ensue if parents thought that some disease was randomly killing 50 children every week and the government was doing little to stop it. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening.
As we now go into October, the government and businesses across the nation will join in the pink movement. With more than 50% of the voting public and their trillions of dollars of purchasing power possibly being affected by breast cancer, they will have everyone’s undivided attention. Meanwhile, every single day of October, there will be another 7 families crying at their child’s grave because a “rare” cancer took their innocent lives.