All around the world, communities are Going Gold this September to show their support for kids and families who are currently fighting for their lives, for those will face the fight in the future, for those who have already won, and most tragically for those who have lost their lives, failed by our current medical technology.
Childhood cancer is something that most people would rather not know about, yet more than 625 Australian children are diagnosed every year, almost half before the age of 4. Cancer kills nearly 3 Australian children every week – more than any other disease.
Despite this, paediatric cancer research receives less than 1% of National Health and Medical Research Council funding currently allocated to adult cancers. Many of the treatments for childhood cancer have not changed in decades, or are based on adult treatment regimes and can cause severe permanent problems for our children, both in the short and long term. Children who survive the long road to being cured still require a lifetime of monitoring, and more than 70% will develop a serious health condition as a result of their treatment, which can include infertility, organ toxicity, heart damage, and even secondary cancers.
It is true that some forms of cancer have seen great improvements in cure rate – as a whole, survivability has gone from less than 3 in 10 children in the 1960s to about 8 in 10 today. Some forms of leukaemia have cure rates as high as 90%. Yet other cancers, such as neuroblastoma, which is the most common cancer in children under 5, still kills 1 in every 2 children diagnosed.
Dial An Elf’s co-founder Jess Hayes is the Western Australian State Co-ordinator for Go Gold Australia, a group of volunteers dedicated to shining a light on the devastating impact that cancer is having on our children, with the knowledge that awareness leads to funding, and funding will lead to a cure.
This year, buildings all around Perth will light up gold in honour of kids fighting cancer. Keep an eye out for the Bell Tower, The State Theatre of WA, Perth Concert Hall, Curtin Stadium, The Perth Cultural Centre Grounds and The Old Mill in South Perth. Councils will be wearing gold ribbons and putting up posters, and some are holding a Gold dress day with donations to a childhood cancer charity that focuses on research (such as The Kids’ Cancer Project or the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia). An childhood cancer awareness film produced by Martyn Withnell will be shown on the big screen in the Perth Cultural Centre Precinct twice a day throughout September, and gold paper cranes folded by families affected by childhood cancer will be hung in the Fremantle Maritime Museum.
If you know someone who is affected by childhood cancer, don’t be afraid to talk to them. Most people will welcome the opportunity to share their story, and you may be surprised by what you learn.
Our children are brave, and they are strong, but they cannot fight alone! How will you help?
This post is part of our series in support of Go Gold Australia and Childhood Cancer Awareness month.Share