September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and I wanted to take a second to shine some light on the subject.
There is one particular family who I have been blessed to have been introduced to, through Paper Clouds Apparel, a company that focuses on raising money for children with special needs and medical issues.
Statistics show if you haven’t already been touched by cancer, you will be. In some shape or another, cancer will eventually touch every person’s life.
How scary is that to think?
I have had my own personal cancer battles. My grandfather died from cancer, followed by my father just three short years later.
But what if it were my child who had to fight? It’s something no one wants to think about.
However, more people really need to help bring awareness to the issue. For instance, did you know that of the money set to fund cancer research, only a small percentage of that (4 percent, actually) is actually used for research on childhood cancer?
The other 96 percent is spent focusing only on adults. Most of the treatments used today to help kids with cancer were developed in the 70s, and only used on adults back then.
Jeremy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in 2012. He endured intense chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery to save his leg.
And these were just a few of the medical battles he fought.
But what about the battle on the inside this young man had to go through? I asked Jeremy what he would want the world to know about childhood cancer, and his answer blew me away.
“I would want the world to know that childhood cancer is one of the hardest things for a child to face. And at 18 years old, I have had to give it everything I have. There were points where I wanted to give up and just stop treatment entirely, but because of the support I had from my family and friends, I pulled through.
So I guess what I'm saying is having that support, and knowing you have people who love you and have your back through all this, can make a huge difference for a child.”
Jeremy’s mom told me a surprising fact about this terrifying disease: The process goes by too quickly.
“They will literally call you at home and tell you to plan to stay on your first visit. You get a crash course in the chemos they will be giving, as they are taking your child back for surgery so the chemo can start immediately.
There is no down-time to go home and prepare yourself or your family. It's not like they show on TV shows or in movies. It’s a very quick whirlwind.”
She went on to tell me about the disruption this causes in a child's life. Having to stay in the hospital or on bed rest while your friends go out to have fun can cause major issues.
Personally, I can't even begin to try and quantify what that must feel like.
I asked Jeremy if he could tell me three things we, as the public, could do to help children affected by cancer. Of course, topping the list was raising awareness.
This is simply because so many people don’t realize the amount of children who are affected. Fundraisers and special charity events for the families of children affected with cancer are essential. The last thing a family should have to worry about when trying to help their child fight cancer is money.
In addition, social media is a great support tool for kids who have their own cancer story to tell. Families who let others follow their progress and struggles can help keep the kids motivated to keep fighting.
Jeremy finished his chemotherapy in 2013, and continues to kick cancer right in the ass.
His story is more than inspiring. I can’t find an adjective to describe the strength this young man has had to demonstrate to get through this battle. Jeremy's mom works full-time, and yet, she continues to help her son in his fight.
She is now dealing with the long-term effects of her son's life-saving treatments.
Jeremy is now in classes, and has a future goal of starting his own business to help other children who have been affected.
With his continued drive and passion for life, motivated by his own feelings, this young man is sure to take the world by a storm. I am looking forward to witnessing his future unfold.
According to his friends, “Jeremy is destined for a life full of happiness, health and love.”