In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy. One out of 285 U.S. children are diagnosed with cancer before they turn 20 years old. In 2015, about 10,380 children under the age of 15 in the United States alone will be diagnosed with cancer.
I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a heartbreaking statistic. It’s hard to think that so many families will be faced with the possible reality of losing their child before they have a chance to graduate high school, get married, or have children of their own.
Even if pediatric cancer patients successfully fight their cancer, two-thirds of them must endure long-term effects of treatment such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, infertility, heart disease, second cancers, and the list goes on.
Another unpalatable reality is the fact that less than 4 percent of funds for cancer research is allotted specifically toward pediatric cancer research.
I’m currently a fourth-year medical student at Rush Medical College, and over the years I have followed the stories of kids around the country struggling to overcome cancer. An underlying theme to these stories was the need for a greater understanding of the diseases and for more drug trials to be made available. Having had experience in cancer treatment research, I know the hard work that goes into this field. I have personally seen the passion in the hearts of those behind the scenes working each day to understand childhood cancers and find cures. However, it also takes necessary funding to drive this research, and I want to be a part of this movement to support childhood cancer research.
So how does head shaving fight pediatric cancer? No, it’s not a super power, but there is an amazing group standing behind head-shaving events. St. Baldrick’s is an organization with a huge heart to raise money specifically for pediatric cancer research. The funds go directly to researchers dedicated to find cures for pediatric cancer and hospitals that run clinical trials. They also go toward training the next generation of researchers and funding supportive care research to improve the quality of life of patients and survivors.
Since 2009, head-shaving events have helped raise over $34 million!
And this is where we all come in:
- Shave your head! Our pediatric cancer patients will spend the day as your hairdressers.
- Invite your friends and family to donate to St. Baldrick’s!
- Please join us on March 18, 2015 from 11:30am-3pm for Rush University’s St. Baldrick’s Fundraising Event!
Joanna Hui is PR chair of the St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser at Rush Children’s Hospital.