It is officially September, which means so much more to me these days than it ever used to. September for me is no longer just about the beginning of the school year and the changing seasons. September is now all about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a cause that has become so dear to me since my only daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 4 months old in July 2012.
Childhood cancer never got a second thought from me before it showed up in my family. I saw the pictures of the smiling, bald, beautiful children on the St. Jude’s commercials and didn’t really understand what an awful disease it is.
This picture here was taken just days before Olivia died at 20 months and 3 days old. With each day the tumor grew larger and made her head and face swell. She could no longer see. She slept all the time. She had no strength left. She was utterly and completely miserable. It is nearly impossible to explain the anguish I felt at that time. Seeing my child die was the worst experience of my entire life.
Childhood cancer is not pretty. These kids fight hard battles that should never, ever be a part of a child’s life. They spend the majority of their time getting chemo, radiation, sitting in hospital rooms, and watching life go by from inside the glass of the hospital building. They see countless doctors, nurses and specialists. They get MRIs, CT scans, and go under anesthesia regularly. They take more medications than most of us have ever seen outside of a pharmacy.
Childhood cancer is a horrible disease that desperately needs a cure. I know the pictures of the reality of what it does are hard to see, but please don't turn away. Childhood cancer doesn’t discriminate. No one ever thinks it will be their child, their niece, their grandson. But I can promise you there’s not a single family affected by childhood cancer that thought it would ever happen to them.
You can do something. You can help give these children the future they deserve. You can be the change. Consider getting involved during this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! We currently have a Miles For Gold Campaign running with our partners at Stella Strong. Join us as we move our bodies to raise funding and awareness for pediatric cancer research! Learn more and sign up today by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.