by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
Executive Director/CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World
"Kiwi had only been sick once; never on any sort of medication, not even Tylenol. All of that changed on Friday, July 31st, 2010 when we found ourselves in the Emergency Room because Kiwi's left hand had begun to spasm periodically all that day. Our lives went from Kiwi never being in the hospital and only at the doctors once (but never on any medications), to being poked and prodded for hours in the ER. I had a very difficult time comprehending the next few days of my life. It started in the ER on a Friday night and moved slowly through the weekend, to an MRI on Sunday showing that my darling 22 month old daughter had a large tumor on the right side of her brain." (Read the rest of Kiwi's story.)
Your daughter has cancer.
They are words no parent ever wants to hear, yet the sad fact is that every sixty minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer and every six hours, a child will lose her battle to cancer. Cases of pediatric cancer have increased 30% over the last 30 years, to the point that cancer is now the nation's leading cause of death by disease in children.
Meanwhile, little action is being taken to prevent exposures to carcinogens, the substances which are proven to cause cancer. Even dioxin, the single most potent carcinogen identified by scientists, is still not being addressed in the United States. Dioxin has been targeted for international phase-out by a treaty signed by over 170 nations across the world-but not us.
The Environmental Protection Agency is supposedly on the verge of taking action, but the way things are going in Washington, I'm not holding my breath.
According to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, "For over 20 years, EPA's study on dioxin has been delayed time after time. American families have been exposed to this poisonous chemical for far too long. Every American eats dioxins when they consume fatty foods, and every American has measurable levels of this chemical in their body."
And, dioxin is just one of 240 substances currently recognized as "reasonably anticipated to cause cancer" by a report released in June by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
At Healthy Child Healthy World, we believe it's well beyond time to put our collective foot down and take aggressive action to prevent cancer. Throughout 2012, which is the 20 th anniversary of our organization, we'll be turning up the volume on this increasingly common-and tragic-issue.
Healthy Child began after five-year-old Colette Chuda died of a rare form of non-hereditary cancer linked to environmental factors; her parents, Jim and Nancy Chuda, turned their grief into action and formed Healthy Child Healthy World (formerly the Children's Health Environmental Coalition) in 1992.
It's been 20 years and we've seen little change. Now, we're ready for a revolution.
We're inspired by the 46 mothers from across the country who will gather in Washington DC this week to shave their heads to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. By shaving their heads in solidarity with not only their children who have been diagnosed with cancer, but every child affected by cancer, the 46 Mommas hope to raise $1 million. (To locate or organize an event in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit www.StBaldricks.org.) Here's a video from last year's Shave for the Brave event in Los Angeles.
To the 46 Mommas: We are humbled by your action, and honor your commitment.
Read more at HealthyChild.org.