For those of you who are aware of the significance of September for the childhood cancer world, you are no doubt conscious of the flood of gold and the social media deluge that has begun. Despite the fact that children are diagnosed with cancer 365 days a year, for thirty of those days the community is pressed into a frenzy to grab as much attention and awareness as possible to overcome the lack of focus on the number one disease killer of our kids. Buildings, bridges, monuments; they are all targets for a steady stream of gold lights used to illuminate them for the world to see in an effort to make even just one more person aware. It is a stark reality that the world turns pink rather abruptly, and in many instances right under our noses, before the calendar pages say October.
Those of us who rely upon social media to create new and renewed levels of awareness as well as raise funds for our organizations’ missions find a crowded marketplace come every September. This fact is not necessarily negative in nature in that the more information that is available, the more people that are aware and potentially motived into action. To those on the outside though, all of this frenzied activity may seem disjointed in nature. It can appear that there is no collaborative effort underway, rather a number of different organizations fighting for the same small piece of the pie. There may be some truth to that conception unfortunately. Despite the overall status of the collective diagnosis of childhood cancer as the number one disease killer of children in the United States, the segment of the population is not viewed as significantly large. In truth, over 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. Until your doorbell is rung and you hear the words “your child has cancer,” most likely there is no need for you to be truly aware. My point is that the mission of creating a thirty day frenzy each and every September for childhood cancer awareness is exhausting and perhaps not gaining the ground that we all think. Childhood cancer is not simply an issue for thirty days out of each year. Childhood cancer is a problem each and every day, even for those children fortunate enough to be labeled cured. Yes, the designation of September as childhood cancer awareness month presents opportunities for new awareness and reinvigorated advocacy. Nevertheless, we must think beyond the thirty days in September and utilize the energy all year long to truly create the global awareness that will ultimately ensure that children with cancer are a priority.
As the calendar pages flip to September 1, 2015, there is tremendous opportunity that we as childhood cancer advocates possess to create significant awareness. Seeing all of the gold social media campaigns, rallies, buildings lighting up and the intense passion truly provides me with a sense that we as advocates are changing the plight for children with cancer to make childhood cancer a universally survivable diagnosis regardless of cancer type. I have been a member of this community since April 2008 when my then two-year-old daughter Alexis was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Since that time, I have seen tremendous growth in the amount of awareness being raised. For that I am thankful and hopeful. September is here, we are painting the world gold, but what we must not lose sight of is that there are 335 other days to raise awareness and paint the world gold.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Welcome to September and beyond.
CKN will be posting new articles throughout the month of September. You can find a list of our most recent Childhood Cancer articles here:
Jonathan Eric Agin is a childhood cancer advocate, speaker and an attorney (www.jonathanagin.com) in Washington, DC. He is married to Neely Agin and is the father of Alexis, Gabriel and Trevor Agin. Alexis was diagnosed in April 2008 with a tumor in her brainstem and battled for 33 months before passing away on January 14, 2011. Mr. Agin is the Executive Director of the Max Cure Foundation and the General Counsel for the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute. Mr. Agin, along with his wife, run a Washington, DC chapter of a pediatric brain cancer foundation. In his spare time, Jonathan participates in endurance events, such as triathlons and running races to raise increased awareness for childhood cancer.