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This is childhood cancer awareness month

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I seem to have gone from not knowing anyone whose child had cancer to a veritable avalanche. That’s how it feels — being overwhelmed by a huge wall of fear, anxiety and uncertainty — and these aren’t even my children.

I have experienced having a child in the hospital, and the helplessness that comes with that. I was fortunate that my child was not being destroyed from the inside by his own cells — his problem involved plumbing and the skilled hands of a surgeon were enough to solve it. I cannot imagine living in constant fear of relapse.

My friend, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, maintains a blog in which she and her husband, Rabbi Michael Sommer, chronicle the trials, tribulations, joys and successes of their seven-year-old son Sam, who has just undergone a bone marrow transplant for relapsing acute myeloid leukemia. You can follow Sam’s story at supermansamuel.blogspot.com

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and while my friends are very much aware of childhood cancer every day, they are using some of that frustration, fear and energy to campaign for increased awareness by everyone. I feel that the least I can do is to support them in this endeavour.

The following information comes from the website childhoodcancer.ca:

• There are about 10,000 children living with cancer in Canada today. Each year, about 1,500 cases are diagnosed

• Because of significant advances in therapy, 78% of these children will survive five years or more, an increase of almost 46% since the early 1960s.

• More than 70% of children diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors and the majority of them are considered cured.

• Leukemias, tumours of the brain and nervous system, the lymphatic system, kidneys, bones and muscles are the most common childhood cancers.

• In Canada, childhood cancer remains responsible for more deaths from one year through adolescence than any other disease; more deaths than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined.

Fortunately, most of us are blessed with freedom from this long shadow.

To support our friends and relatives who are grappling with it, we can donate to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Visist cancercarefdn.mb.ca for complete information.

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