Every year, 300,000 new cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed. It is also the leading cause of death for children under the age of 19. With the help of organizations that support children and their families, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month helps to advocate on their behalf.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
- What’s the History of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Month Does Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Take Place?
- What Are the Colors of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Are the Activities Associated with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
By declaring a month devoted to this issue, it can bring attention to prioritize research, study, and support for kids and their families. With this kind of community support, more and more children may be able to find relief and a cure.
What is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month honors children globally who've battled cancer. Each year, children, parents, and other advocates generate awareness and raise funds. Through a globally recognized initiative, people can help highlight and continue research to prevent, diagnose, and cure common pediatric cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
What’s the History of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
Children's cancer survival statistics were once grim. There was no advocacy for patients or their families, nor was there any opportunity for parents to network for support. That changed when 25 parents of children living with cancer gathered to lobby Congress and the NIH for more help, cancer research and study.
When those parents met, they brought in speakers, doctors, and other advocates to offer support, give talks and cause momentum for what would become the Candlelighters Foundation. Initially, they taped and shared these meetings with other parents to increase knowledge and encouragement.
Afterward, the Childhood Cancer Ombudsman Program was created for parents to obtain access to doctors and lawyers. They offered free information regarding employment and education discrimination, military service, and the various hurdles navigating insurance.
On its 20th Anniversary, the Candlelighters Foundation met in Washington, where parents and leaders spoke to Congress to advance funding and research. The need was so widespread and critical that the organization grew from a small group to a national and international organization within a short time. In the 1990s, the Candlelighter's Foundation restructured and eventually changed its name to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO).
What Month Does Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Take Place?
In 2012, then-President Barack Obama proclaimed September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
What Are the Colors of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
The American Childhood Cancer Association, formerly the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, chose the color gold—a precious metal—to represent children battling cancer.
Although many different colors bring awareness to cancer, to the founding parents, gold was an obvious choice as their children were the most precious things in their lives. Gold is the internationally recognized ribbon color supporting all children in solidarity no matter which cancer they’re fighting.
What Are the Activities Associated with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
You can help cancer victims and families by supporting activities and getting involved with organizations to fight childhood cancer. Here’s how.
Contacting local and state officials
Congress allocates money for research at the National Institute of Health. For those interested in seeing additional money set aside for this issue, they can contact their local representatives. Cancer research advocacy groups have created sign-on letters with all the relevant information included for those unsure of what to say.
Like with many organizations, donating money is the easiest way to support children and parents during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. These donations help organizations in supporting programs for those affected. In turn, parents and children can receive resources to understand their diagnoses, treatment options, trials, and late effects that can occur years after treatment and survivorship.
Walk for dollars or ride your bike
If you’re a student (or an adult), you can join in any coalition that helps you Walk for Dollars or Ride your Bike in return for dollars. If there’s no program near you, you can join one online or start one yourself.
Cancer organizations can also link you with medical staff in your local area, and can help you in building a social media campaign. Organizations like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation can help with more information.
Partner with an organization
If your company has not partnered with a nonprofit, you can suggest focusing on an issue like childhood cancer and guide activities throughout the month of September.
For example, the PJammin® For Kids with Cancer is a way that you can raise awareness at school or work. The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) provides resources for an organization (school or office) to start a fundraiser.
While PJammin® parties are typically in April, you can still make these events happen any time of the year. Anytime you can start a conversation about cancer, you’re helping families everywhere get one step closer to a cure and well-lived life for deserving kids.
Whether you are a cancer survivor or a parent, stories can be important ways to garner support. You can choose to share your own story online, or link up with an agency that can spread your story faster and farther. Sometimes being the voice for others in need can motivate lawmakers and community members alike.
Suppose you don’t have a story to share, research and share what you’ve found with your community. Anything helps when you and others help spread positive messages for cancer patients.
Deck out in gold
Create golden conversations! Gold is one of those colors that stands out, so turn everything in your outfit gold for at least one day. Doing so will help families ravaged by these diseases and get others around you to offer support or even learn what to say when a loved one’s family member has cancer.
If you’re not sure where to find all this gear, go online to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and find links to get your gold on, including how to change your Zoom meeting backgrounds to highlight your support.
Supporting Children with Cancer Every September
Though the month of September is officially declared as the month to support children and families affected by the devastation of childhood cancer, you can do this at any time. Many families can be intimidated and unsure of what to do when their child is diagnosed with cancer.
Raising money and support can help the increasing number of children diagnosed with cancer as well as families trying to care for their child while medical costs go up. Setting aside some time in September to advocate for these kids and their families can go a long way.
- “9 Ways to Be Bold and Go Gold Through Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.” Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Alex’s Lemonade, alexslemonade.org/blog/2020/09/9-ways-be-bold-and-go-gold-through-childhood-cancer-awareness-month
- American Childhood Cancer Organization. ACCO, ACCO, acco.org
- Gallagher, Madison. “The Importance of Childhood Cancer Awareness.” The Odyssey Online, 11 September 2016, theodysseyonline.com/the-importance-of-childhood-cancer-awareness
- St. Jude Children’s® Research Hospital. St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, St. Jude. stjude.org