If you follow any childhood cancer pages you have probably had your newsfeed bombarded with information about childhood cancer awareness and the importance of “going gold.” That’s because September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. But why should you care? Your kids are healthy. You don’t actually know any of these families with these sad stories. And don’t most kids that get cancer get cured?
I was once blissfully ignorant about childhood cancer. I thought the same thing. Yet something deep within my heart stirred and I had this irrational fear that one of my children would get cancer. This started long before my twins were even conceived. It was something that I couldn’t explain at the time. I now realize it was God preparing my heart for the monster that would take everything away from me.
You see, my daughter, Olivia had brain cancer. She was diagnosed at 4 months old and spent the next 16 months of her life battling this monster before she passed away at 20 months old in October 2013. She fought one battle with brain cancer only to have it return with a vengeance just a few short months later. The picture above was taken just days before she passed away. And now we all have to learn to live life without her. Her twin brother is without his partner in crime. And her Dad and I are forever without our angel girl. Her little brother, set to arrive in late November, won’t get to know his sister until he some day joins her in Heaven.
Childhood cancer is a reality for more families than you would ever realize. In fact, today 46 families in the United States are hearing the words, “your child has cancer” for the first time. They went from a life of blissful ignorance to being thrust into surgeries, MRI’s, hospitalizations, chemo treatments, radiation, etc. They will never be the same.
And another 7 families are going to see their child pass away today in the U.S. after a battle with cancer. I will never forget the moment when Olivia took her last breath. It’s an image that haunts me.
I beg you to please take childhood cancer awareness month seriously. Please don’t live in blissful ignorance and say that it will never happen to you. Every single childhood cancer family thought the exact same thing! So please get involved and “go gold!” It is much easier than you think. Change your profile picture. Share status updates with information about childhood cancer. Talk to your friends and family. Donate to childhood cancer research or other organizations that support children battling cancer. Attend fundraisers. Be aware! Take action for our children. Some day, a child you love might battle cancer and you will be thankful for the support that might save their life.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. All proceeds benefit the neuro-oncology research lab at Children’s Hospital Colorado headed by Dr. Nick Foreman. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.