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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Go Gold for Childhood Cancer, because this shouldn't be something in our world

Top; Lily-Mae in full flight in the ballet studio earlier this year and bottom, a very sick Lily-Mae sleeping beside her brother Evan, as she tried to make her way through the horrible illness, which is Neuroblastoma (pictures courtesy of the Tiny Dancer, A Song for Lily-Mae Facebook page, with permission from Judith Sibley).

June 1, 2012 - this date may mean nothing to most, but to the Sibley, Morrison, Hayes and Quinn families in Ireland, it was the day that childhood cancer came crashing into our lives.

Childhood cancer, is, in and of itself, a term that should not exist, and it is one that should never be used glibly - it should always be accompanied by an ill feeling in the pit of your stomach, the knowledge that something, somewhere in the world has gone horribly wrong and that a parent somewhere is riddled with guilt, pain and anguish, which may never dissipate. 

On that awful day in June four years ago, we found out that adorable and care-free Lily-Mae had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma - a litany of furious Google searches ensued, but the results posed more questions than they answered and as a family, we suddenly realised that besides offering 'thoughts and prayers', there was very little that we could do to help Lily-Mae, her brother Evan and her parents Judy and Leighton. 

Nobody ever thinks their child will be sick, just as nobody ever thinks that their spouse or loved one will have to make a claim on their life assurance. 

Throughout the month of September, the Go Gold for Childhood Cancer campaign will be going strong and last year, if you recall, a number of landmark buildings from all over the world, lit up gold in support of the campaign. 

This year, those behind the campaign are calling on people to 'Go Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness' and the campaign runs from September 1-30. Funding for childhood cancer research and treatment centres is lagging far behind where it should be and just this week, this writer got a delivery from Crumlin to sell a book of raffle tickets (a car is up for grabs) to support fundraising for the Nazareth Unit in Crumlin.

While almost everyone is raising money for something these days, the thirty tickets were not hard to sell and were sold in a matter of days - not because there was the potential to win a car, but because it was a way to help sick children who need better healthcare facilities. 

In this day and age, with things like iPads for kids, TV's in every room and the internet on every device, it is a crying shame to think that people need to fundraise to upgrade something like a children's unit in Crumlin hospital. 

Anyone in Ireland who has been unfortunate enough to have a sick child, has probably darkened the doors of Crumlin hospital and while the reports of the friendly staff and wonderful doctors, are glowing, the hospital itself has come in for some harsh criticisms. 

When you support fundraising for things like Crumlin Children's Hospital or the Go Gold campaign, you are not only giving money, you are giving children and their families a tiny beacon of hope and a light of the end of their very bleak tunnel. 

Throughout this month, I will be writing about childhood cancer to raise awareness about the Go Gold campaign and I will be telling my story about childhood cancer, how we coped with Lily-Mae's diagnosis, how we saw the lively and bubbly little girl turn into a mere shadow of herself and how there were bleak days and weeks, but also moments of sheer giddiness, utter ridiculousness and tiny little drops of happiness in an otherwise unthinkable time. 

A few horrifying facts and figures; 

  • Childhood cancer is the number one killer of children. 
  • One in every 330 children will develop cancer before they reach the age of 19. 
  • One out of every five children diagnosed with cancer, will die.
  • Cancer in children strikes regularly, randomly and without mercy. 
For more information, Like the Go Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. 

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