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Margie Kelly Headshot

Childhood Cancer on My Mind

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September has arrived. I've been so caught up with back to school preparations for my children that I haven't had a chance to think about much more beyond the chaos in my house: setting new routines, figuring out car pools and bike routes and helping with homework. It's a hectic time.

But those thoughts vanished after I remembered that September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. President Obama set aside the month "to remember the young lives taken too soon, stand with the families facing childhood cancer today, and rededicate ourselves to combating this terrible illness."

Childhood cancer is terrifying. While rates of other types of cancer have leveled off, the incidence of childhood cancer has been rising at a consistent rate over the past few decades. Here are the facts:
  • Nearly 11,000 children under age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
  • That means 46 children are diagnosed with cancer EVERY DAY of the year.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under 15
  • 1,340 children are expected to die from cancer in 2012; that means 4 kids die from cancer every day.
The only bright spot in the world of childhood cancer is that survival rates have increased since the 1970s. While cancer is more treatable, young survivors tend to have complications later in life, including cancer recurrences.

Think about this: 46 kids get cancer every day. And 46 new families every day hear their doctors say something no family should have to hear: Your child has brain cancer or leukemia that she may or may not survive.

It should come as no surprise that the cancer-causing chemicals found in everything from couches, personal care products, building materials, laundry detergents and more are thought to be a factor.

In 2010, esteemed cancer experts appointed to the President's Cancer Panel wrote in their report about environmental factors and cancer, "the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated." The Panel pointed to the weak federal chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), noting that this failed law has prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from properly regulating known carcinogens like formaldehyde, asbestos and 1,4 dioxane that are found in everyday products.

It's wrong. We all have busy lives but it's urgent that we each do more to stop kids from getting cancer.

One step is to take care of your family by feeding them healthy foods and limiting their exposures to toxic chemicals.

But we must do more to make a dent in the rates of childhood cancer. Will you sign a petition asking Tide to eliminate the probable human carcinogen 1,4 dioxane from its Free & Gentle laundry detergent? Shop for safer personal care products? How about calling, writing or even visiting your senators, urging them them to fix our broken chemical law by supporting the Safe Chemicals Act?

You can make a difference. What will you do?