Pages

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pediatric Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer Alter the Definition of Normal

For most of us, today will begin like any other day. We'll sip our coffee, skim the morning paper, drop the kids off at school, and perform the normal rituals that make up our daily lives. The good, the bad, and yes, even the somewhat ugly; we'll tackle it all with confidence and a sense of comfort, knowing that tomorrow, as routine as it may be, we'll get to do it all over again.

But, for several families across America, today will be different. Today will be life-changing.

Today...

• Nine families will learn their child has a brain or spinal cord tumor;
• Three families will mourn the loss of their child to this dreadful disease; and
• Six families will transition to survivorship.

Each year, an estimated 3,400 children in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor or brain cancer. Approximately one-third of these children will survive no more than five years, making this the deadliest of all childhood cancers. For the families of these kids, there will never be another "normal" day. Their days will now be filled with medical appointments, treatment options, and learning how to operate within a new definition of "normal."

Thankfully, hope springs eternal. The survival rate for children with brain tumors and brain cancer has increased significantly over the past twenty years. Advancements in research have resulted in better treatment methods, improvements in the quality of life and the long-term outlook for these young patients. However, survival does bring with it an all-new set of unique challenges. Treatments can cause damaging late effects on survivors; effects that range from cognitive impairment, to physical challenges, to social isolation.

Collaborations between nonprofit organizations, research foundations and leading medical institutions have proven to be instrumental in the fight against these childhood cancers. By joining forces, these groups are able to connect the best of the best to keep research moving forward, raise public awareness, and provide support to the patients and families who need it.

Several non-profit organizations have been established over the years to provide help to families who find themselves on this new and very difficult life path. Most of these groups offer resources for education, assistance with medical and financial services, and much-needed emotional support through a variety of family outreach programs and special events.

These nonprofit organizations work tirelessly in their battle to make pediatric brain tumors and brain cancers a disease of the past. They are continually searching for research partners, corporate sponsors, and private foundations to help support ongoing research. Individual donations are also critical to the success of these organizations. While much work is being done, and progress is being made, the need to raise awareness, fund research, and provide support is ongoing.

A quick Internet search and a few simple clicks of the mouse will land you on the website of one of these dedicated, nonprofit organizations. Once there, you'll likely find an abundance of valuable information, along with resources and opportunities to help. Why not spend a little time today learning more about this devastating disease? Perhaps, make a donation, or even sign on as a volunteer. Not only can you help to redefine "normal" for these kids and their families; you might just alter your own idea of "normal" as well.