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You Don’t Beat Cancer, You Survive It

June 1, 2020
5 min read
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You don’t have to have cancer to understand that the journey is an emotional roller-coaster. The fear of what awaits around the next corner can be all-consuming. But what most people who haven’t experienced cancer don’t understand, is that unlike a roller-coaster, the ride never ends.

Survivors face additional risks to their health from the very treatments they underwent to make them a survivor in the first place. Surgeries, chemotherapies, radiation, stem cell transplants and other treatments take a brutal toll on the body. Some make life more difficult; others are life-threatening.

With each scan that comes back NED (No Evidence of Disease) there’s relief. But to a survivor of cancer or a parent of one, it also sets up the next level of fear and that fear never goes away because the risk never goes away. That’s why their health needs to be monitored carefully for the rest of their lives.

Every parent whose child has survived cancer, has had someone say, “That’s fabulous. I’m so glad it’s over.” Well intentioned as they were, what they didn’t understand is that survivorship is a lifelong journey.

This Month, we Celebrate Survivors

Sunday, June 7 is National Cancer Survivors Day and we at St. Baldrick’s recognize the entire month of June as “Cancer Survivors Month.” Our goal is to celebrate survivors and help those who haven’t experienced cancer understand that surviving it is just the first step in a lifelong journey.

Throughout Cancer Survivors Month, leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Survivorship Giving Day on June 30th, we’ll share what real life is like for a few survivors and their families – their highs and lows, trials and achievements. Join our fundraising efforts this month to support research that will give the world not only more survivors, but also give those survivors healthier, longer lives.

The Late Effects of Cancer – Best Addressed, Early on.

When a child’s life is threatened by cancer all everyone wants; the parents, siblings, doctors and nurses, is to rid their tiny bodies of it. But at a time when their bodies are developing rapidly, the toxic and brutal treatments are disrupting that. The long-term effects of these toxic treatments are called late effects. And as they get older, the risk of late effects doesn’t decrease – it increases. 

Heart and lung problems are common, as are secondary cancers. Some survivors will have mental health needs (with socialization, psychology, or PTSD) or cognitive deficiencies. Others may not hear as well, have hormonal imbalances or difficulties growing. Some face bone density issues and easy fractures. Fertility and reproductive problems may not manifest themselves for several years (and may not be top of mind for young children and families) but may cause difficulties well into adulthood.

What parents want and need desperately is something to combat feeling a total lack of control. Information early on about the long-term side effects of treatment helps. By offering this information early, starting at diagnosis, parents are better able to understand the long-term effects of their treatment choices, make better decisions about treatment and help them prepare for their children’s long-term care.

By age 50, childhood cancer survivors have experienced, on average, 17 adverse effects, 3 to 5 of those being severe to life-threatening. Because of the treatments they had as kids, more than 99% of these childhood cancer survivors have a chronic health problem and 96% have severe or life-threatening conditions. Fortunately, donors like you have funded more than 145 grants totaling over $19.5 million specifically to improve survivorship. And your efforts are making an impact. Because of you, kids currently going through treatment will have brighter futures to look forward to for when they’re 50.

How Your Donations Help Create More Survivors and Improve the Lives of Survivors

St. Baldrick’s uses money raised to fund the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. When you donate to St. Baldrick’s you’re helping to fund the finest childhood cancer research – no matter where it takes place. We scour the nation to find the very best of the best – so when you give to St. Baldrick’s you don’t just give to one institution – you give to 376 institutions worldwide. Putting your money in the hands of the researchers who offer us all the very best chance to make a huge impact.

Types of Research Funded by St. Baldrick’s Specifically to Improve Survivorship:

Below is an overview of your donations in action. Later this month, we will provide a more in-depth look at how your donations are making an impact to survivorship.

  1. Research to find cures while improving survivorship
  2. Research focused specifically to improve the health and quality of life of survivors 
  3. Research to help survivors/families get care and make choices about their care after cancer
  4. Research to learn more about survivorship itself 

Help Celebrate Survivors and Raise Funds to Create More Survivors

St. Baldrick’s Survivorship Giving Day is on June 30th. Join us in our fundraising efforts this month to help bridge the gap in fundraising due to the global pandemic. As part of our 20th anniversary, a St. Baldrick’s founder Tim Kenny and his wife Sheila, have generously agreed to match donations in the month of June, up to $300,000.  So please give and encourage your friends and family to participate. Even St. Baldrick’s 2020 Ambassador Micah will be doing his part with a live virtual head-shaving event.

We invite you to take a look at our Cancer Survivors Month page and also to follow us on social media if you haven’t already. Until every child survives and thrives, we’ll keep funding research.

Join us today and #DFYchildhoodCancers!