This is a guest post from Robert Landry, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Cancer Coalition.
Imagine if you were told your child has cancer. What would you do? You’d fight. Without a doubt, you would help your child fight for their life.
Childhood cancer includes some of the most curable types of cancer. In fact, thanks in large part to advances in research over the last decades, children battling cancer have a 75-80% survival rate.
A heightened public awareness of signs and symptoms result in children being accurately diagnosed earlier. As you know, the earlier cancer is identified, the better the outcome. When you add in the available treatment options, it’s clear how the number of deaths from childhood cancer is decreasing and why most children and teenagers who are diagnosed with cancer can be treated successfully.
That is, unless you are a child living in a developing country.
Now suppose you live in a village in Paraguay. Your daughter has been sick. You don’t know why — there are any number of reasons for her fever that won’t go away. Finally, you save up enough money to take her to the city so she can be seen by a specialist. The last thing you expect to hear is, your daughter has cancer. But that’s exactly what you’re told. And then you’re told to go home, because after all, you are a poor farmer and you have no way to pay for her treatment.
This is the reality for too many people living in developing countries. Sometimes, they can’t afford to start treatment, so they are left with no choice and no hope. Other times, children are able to start treatment but are forced to stop when their family’s life savings are gone.
In developing countries, kids with cancer have just a 20% survival rate. If they lived in the U.S., they would have a 75-80% survival rate. They’re the same kids, with the same cancer. They could have the same chance.
But because of where they live, these kids have almost no chance for a cure. Hospitals may not have access to the life-saving medicines, technology or knowledge. And even if they do, the medicine and treatment is almost always too expensive for the average family to afford.
These children experience unimaginable suffering with little chance for even pain relief. There are treatments for these children. They desperately need access to the live-saving medicine. Treatments for leukemia and brain tumors, two of the most common types of childhood cancer, are desperately needed in the developing world, where more than 80% of children don’t even have a chance in the fight against cancer.
The National Cancer Coalition works tirelessly to give hope for healing and relief from suffering to people in developing countries who are facing cancer. With help from donors, NCC connects life-saving medicines to the people who desperately need them. Read more about NCC’s work here.
Photo credit: National Cancer Coalition
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