In the battle of childhood cancer, we see kids and their families, nurses, and doctors who are on the front lines every day. It’s important, however, to recognize and acknowledge those behind the scenes- those out of the direct line of fire who make the fight possible. Although overlooked in importance and, I believe, underappreciated for what they do, childhood cancer organizations are utterly passionate about helping kids like me. They bring a personal and sincere quality to what they do and ease the cancer journey for kids and their family.
Backing up the children on the front lines are organizations that offer direct services to families affected by childhood cancer. An organization that is near and dear to my heart is the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. TBCF provides immediate support to families and has impacted my life personally. Through every step of the way- both during and after treatment- they were always there to provide us with what we needed. The mission of the Teddy Bear staff is to ensure that a parent or parents can be with their child during their battle. They assist in paying the family’s daily financial needs such as gas, groceries, as well as rent, and car payments. In addition, they help with the costs of medical-related expenses like medications, counseling, hotel rooms near the hospital, and in the event the child does not win the battle, funeral costs. Nurturing not only the child with cancer, but the family as well, Teddy Bear offers support groups for parents, the child, and siblings. They also host Family Fun Days. From first-hand experience, they provide wonderful distraction from the chaos of treatment, bring together families going through similar experiences, and create a fun, memorable, “normal” day. TBCF volunteers read stories and give bears to the kids in the hospital I can still remember the incredible comfort I was given by hugging my new bear. Lastly, TBCF creates “Moments in Time”, granting requests of kids and families to create lasting memories. In close contact with those affected by childhood cancer, organizations like the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation bring firsthand assistance to families ravaged by the battle.
Also playing a critical role in the war that is childhood cancer are organizations that provide financial assistance to researchers. Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer and Alex’s Lemonade Stand are two organizations that I have had deep admiration for. Braden’s Hope, inspired by a mother and son battling cancer simultaneously, was founded to increase the funding and awareness of childhood cancer. Through various fundraisers and awareness campaigns, they passionately fight to bring hope to children with cancer and their families. Similar to Braden’s Hope is Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which provides research and nursing grants to various institutions. This financing leads to breakthroughs in treatments as well as better care for cancer kids. The funds raised by both organizations aid in research projects that develop better therapies for children and bring us one step closer to a cure.
Working on a higher level are organizations like St. Baldrick’s Foundation and CureSearch. They provide funding for research on a larger, more national scale. In addition to providing support services for families and cancer patients, CureSearch works closely with Children’s Oncology Group, a network of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer researchers and oncologists. Through collaboration, they work towards more effective treatments for children while seeking to reduce the chances and severity of late effects. Raising the most funds for research is the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is driven by volunteers who organize teams and fundraisers all across the nation and even internationally. Teams and individuals volunteer to shave their head, which builds solidarity with children going through cancer while raising awareness and funds. A well known (and amazing) group affiliated with the organization is the 46 Mommas, a band of women who have had a child affected by the disease. Tackling childhood cancer with just as much passion as the above organizations is PAC2, or People Against Childhood Cancer. Facilitating an “advocacy community”, PAC2 brings together information from all corners of the childhood cancer realm. It consolidates important information concerning various organizations and their events, funds, research, legislation, and more. Facts, resources, and just about anything and everything pertaining to childhood cancer can be found through PAC2. It is an incredibly helpful compilation that comes in very handy when navigating the world of pediatric cancer, whether as patient or advocate.
These organizations all share a common goal- to fight back against childhood cancer, whether by helping families who are amidst the battle, or generating funds and awareness. They all aid in some way in easing the incredible difficulty for a child and his or her family and their tireless, selfless work bring us one step closer to a cure for this horrible disease.