Pediatric cancer affects thousands of children and families nationwide. The disease not only changes a child's life, but also challenges parents, siblings and relatives to cope with the life-threatening illness along with emotional turmoil. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children ages one to 14. As a result, President Obama declared September 2011 National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
In a White House press release, President Obama stressed the importance of research and how advances have helped to make pediatric cancer more treatable. For example, the five-year survival rate increased from 58.1 percent in 1975-77 to 79.6 percent in 1996-2003, the National Cancer Institute reports.
Many organizations continue to mobilize to raise money in order to fund research and support the children and families affected by this disease. Here's how you can help.
CURE Childhood Cancer
Since its founding in 1975, CURE has focused on improving the care, quality of life and survival rate of children with cancer through education and support for patients and families. The organization has raised millions of dollars to fund research and also provides comfort and support to struggling families. Currently, the research CURE is funding is focused on the development and testing of new agents that target cancer cells and don't affect healthy cells.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of pediatric cancer patients, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country. It is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that is solely devoted to children.
Have a Heart Children's Cancer Society
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, families are not only crippled emotionally, but financially as well. Have a Heart Children's Cancer Society collaborates with hospitals, medical centers and other children's organizations to locate families who struggle to pay for treatment necessities. Donations to the charity go toward assisting those in need with medical bills, equipment, transportation and household expenses.
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer
Alexandra Scott was diagnosed with cancer just before her first birthday. At age four, she told her parents she wanted to set up a front-yard lemonade stand and give the money to doctors to help them find a cure. In just one day, her lemonade stand raised $2,000 and later became Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, an organization that honors Alex's memory with lemonade stands around the United States. In addition to funding cancer research, the foundation is one of the only national charities that funds pediatric oncology nursing research and grants, designed to improve the quality of life and care of children battle cancer.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Oftentimes, families travel far from home to get treatment for their diagnosed children. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a free or low-cost "home-away-from-home" so that families can stay close to their hospitalized child. The organization is centered on the focus that families are stronger when they are together, helping them face the fight against illness.
The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer
Established in 1953 in honor of a little boy named Tommy Mozdierz, who died of cancer just two weeks before his fifth birthday, The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer works alongside dedicated professionals in the oncology field. The organization acts as a helping hand to the department of pediatrics and the pediatric oncology section at the Yale School of Medicine, the Yale New Haven Children's Hospital at the Yale Cancer Center. Since its revival in 1986, Tommy Fund activities have grown to include the annual fall family day and road race, holiday cards designed by patients and sold in hospitals and communities, and an invitational golf tournament.
American Childhood Cancer Organization
From its humble beginning as a small group of parents whose children were diagnosed with cancer, the American Childhood Cancer Organization has grown into one of the largest national grassroots organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and families affected by cancer. The organization raises awareness and helps shape policy, research and programs on a national level. Based in Washington D.C., the foundation also has over 40 local affiliate organizations across the country.
Children's Cancer Research Fund
The Children's Cancer Research Fund has contributed nearly $75 million to research and programs dedicated to providing better outcomes for childhood cancer patients. The nonprofit supports pioneering efforts in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of pediatric cancer at the University of Minnesota.
Jessica June Children's Cancer Foundation
Founded by a mother who lost her only child to cancer, the Jessica June Children's Cancer Foundation provides emergency financial assistance for children fighting cancer to ensure access to basic necessities. The organization's vision is centered around the unfortunate experience of families and single parents who are unable to afford their basic needs after the loss of a job or inability to work as a result of their children's disease.
Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation
Since its inception in 1982, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation has raised over $22 million to fund research that leads to medically sound protocol for children with malignant diseases. The foundation currently funds grants for research in the areas such as stem cell transplantation, stem cell biology, molecular oncology, and molecular and cellular genetics.
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