Go Gold For September

September is a month that people look forward to. During September, the temperatures lower and fall is in the air. It's the time for football and all things pumpkin flavored come back. However, September is also a month of awareness. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Childhood cancer is very important to me. You never think that childhood cancer can affect you, but believe me, it's just around the corner. On childcancer.org it states, "one in every 330 children in the united states will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of nineteen. That means that every day there are enough children diagnosed with childhood cancer to empty two full classrooms." The American Childhood Cancer Organization states, "each year there are estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer."

The American Childhood Cancer Organization goes on to say, "every three minutes, somewhere in the world a family hears the devastating words that their child has been diagnosed with cancer." I had always heard about childhood cancer and a place called St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is only about 45 minutes from my hometown. But I didn't know someone who had childhood cancer. You never expect it to be someone you know, but believe me it does happen. On March 4, 2005, my family heard those words. The words of, "Will has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia cancer."

St. Jude defines Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, also known as ALL, is a cancer that affects the white blood cells. It goes on to say, "Patients with ALL have too many immature white blood cells in their bone marrow. These cells crowd out normal white blood cells. Without enough normal white blood cells, the body has a harder time fighting infections." St. Jude also makes the statement that, "ALL is the most common childhood cancer" and "it affects slightly more boys than girls."

Will, was in first grade at the time was never sick. We are cousins, but he is more like my brother. He is my baby and will always be my baby (get used to it Bub). To hear the words "Will" and "cancer" in the same sentence, it just didn't make sense. I never thought my family would be a St. Jude family. I remember asking why it had to be him a lot, and I remember one day, Will and I were talking and he said "Don't worry Sissy, I have this". Will began treatment at St. Jude very soon after he was diagnosed.

St. Jude is a wonderful place, that I feel doesn't always get the credit or recognition they deserve. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does not send a bill to the family for travel, treatment, food or housing because they believe that the family should only be worried about is helping their child live. St. Jude's success rate with ALL is unbelievable. It has dramatically increased since their doors opened in 1962. St. Jude patients have a success rate of 94 percent, which is the best worldwide outcome for that disease.

Even after treatment, St. Jude still cares its patients. Will is now 18 years old and a senior in high school. He still has yearly check-ups. Looking at him, you would never know that he had childhood cancer. St. Jude is a place that brings so much joy and hope during a time of hardships and uncertainty.

Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, once said, "No child should die in the dawn of day".

Interested in donating to St. Jude? Click here.

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