Hello all! It's me...Megan the "chick who always goes on and on about pediatric cancer" again. You can tell that I sometimes feel as though I should avoid talking with you all about depressing, cancer issues. But alas, I can't. This is a huge part of the purpose for this little blog of mine.
Today I received a solicitation from St Jude's hospital in the mail. You know the ones...you get a great sheet of return address labels along with a plea for a donation? The Megan of a few years ago would have taken those labels and thrown away the rest. Today I actually read it. I know St. Jude is very involved with pediatric cancer treatment and research. They included a chart that compared 5-year survival rates for several different types of pediatric cancer. The chart compared survival rates from 1962 to present day. It was shocking to see how low survival rates were for children only 50 years ago...as low as 4%.
The encouraging news was just how much survival rates have increased in the last 5 decades. For example Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia had a 5-year survival rate of only 4% in 1962 and now...the survival rate is 94%!!! Earlier detection, better screening tests, and improved treatment options have all impacted survival rates in amazing ways! Of the 10 types of childhood cancer listed, 6 of them have survival rates of greater than 85%.
The bad news is that Neuroblastoma had the lowest survival rate of all the types of cancer listed. The 5 year survival rate for children with Neuroblastoma is a dreadful 55%. I was shocked to see how much lower the survival rate was for NB than Leukemia, Lymphoma, and other cancers of the eye, kidneys, and bone. I have to say that I instantly thought of 10 or so children I know of with NB, and yes, only about half of them are still alive. This statistic is scary...
I think why this statistic is so shocking to me is because Neuroblastoma is a relatively new word in my vocabulary. I bet if I was to ask you how many of you had heard of NB before Brady, many of you would join me in saying you hadn't ever heard that word. And this is precisely why I need to continue to speak out about this disease...raise awareness...educate parents about warning signs...raise research money...and support families fighting this disease. I understand that research money for NB is low because kids are diagnosed with other types of cancer in greater numbers, but that certainly doesn't minimize the impact that this disease has on the 700 children who are diagnosed each year. I need to keep talking about it.
I'm really excited about being asked to participate in the Alex's Lemondade Stand Foundation's Hero Ambassador Program. In a few weeks I will be participating in a webinar (certainly the most high tech thing I've ever done) that will train me in how to represent the Foundation by speaking at local events and working with children in schools to understand what pediatric cancer is. I'm really excited to participate in this opportunity and help the ALSF in their quest to beat pediatric cancer.
And one more thing...You may remember our wildly successful Alex's Lemonade Stand that we hosted last September?!?! It was a lot of fun and we raised $2,500 for research money! Sadly this year, our local Labor Day festival has been cancelled and I have been thinking about other possible venues. I received a letter that there is a smaller-scale community celebration being planned for Labor Day and our stand was invited to take part. Of course this will only be a one-day event, and therefore make less money, but I'm considering how to best become involved. If anyone is interested in helping me organize a Labor Day Stand, or if you have ideas you are willing to share, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are still reading (despite the lack of cute-kid-pictures in today's post), thank you! Your support means the world!