I bet a lot of you didn’t know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I also bet a lot of my readers didn’t know I had a sister that lost her battle to cancer at only 9 years old. So many us of skip over this month to get to October. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, we get to wear pink, sporting shirts that say “Save the ta-ta’s” or “Squeeze a boob to save a life”. But what actions do we take to support the estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years old who are diagnosed with cancer?
Did you know, approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnose with cancer before their 20th birthday? To put this in perspective, the chances of winning the lottery are 1:175,000,000. Every 3 minutes, somewhere in the world a mother or father is being told that their child has been diagnosed with cancer.
Are you empowered to do something about this? I sure as hell am. But, if you’re like me, you don’t have money to freely donate to a cancer research organizations. So what can you do?
1. Donate your time.
There are TONS of non-for-organizations that provide services to children diagnosed with cancer. One that is very dear to my heart is Camp Good Days and Special Times. They offer year-round programs to sick children and their siblings to let them “just be kids” for a while. They also offer support groups for parents, and a summer camp program for the kids that is held at Keuka Lake. You can help by volunteering your time to be a camp to be a counselor at their yearly programs & summer camps. Other volunteer opportunities can be found at any Ronald McDonald House, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Brian Moorman’s PUNT Foundation. There are many more out there, but these are some that I’ve either volunteered for, or helped my family when my sister was sick.
2. Donate blood
It’s as simple as that. Many cancer patients will need blood or a platelet transfusions, and you may be the perfect match for them. If you’re afraid of needles, you can always help organize a blood-drive in your community. But, if you’re feeling really courageous, you can look into donating your bone marrow. It’s much more difficult to match bone marrow, so Be The Match helps connect patients in need of a transplant with their donors.
3. Create something that can be donated
If your crafty, this tip is the one for you! A hospital stay for a patient can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. You can help make their stay feel a little more homy by creating comforting items for them. When my sister was in the hospital for her bone marrow transplant, she received a no-sew fleece blanket that she loved to cuddle up with in her hospital bed. Other items you can make for the children are hats, scarves, pillows, and stuffed animals.
4. Donate your hair
Your hair could be made into a wig for a child who lost theirs during chemotherapy. The rule of thumb when donating your hair is that it needs to be 10-12 inches from the scrunchy to the bottom of the pony tail. Please be careful which organization you are donating it to; some charge families an arm and a leg to purchase one of their wigs. I’ve donated my hair over 5 times and went Bald for Bucks once, and I’ve always donated it to Wigs for Kids.
5. Attend event that are donating their proceeds to a good cause
Just because you’re helping others out doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun, too! Many ticketed events or parties donate a portion of their proceeds to local charities. My favorite event in Buffalo is the World’s Largest Disco. It’s always held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and they donate their proceeds to Camp Good Days.
These are just 5 simple ways you can help put a smile on a sick child’s face. In 3 days, Americans will spend on Starbucks coffee what the federal government spends ALL YEAR on childhood cancer research. Don’t let September be forgotten. Help raise awareness for Childhood Cancer patients and families!