The annual campaign helps to highlight the impact of cancer on children, young people and their families. It offers a time to consider the shocking fact that on average, every day in the UK 12 children and young people receive the devastating news that they have cancer.
Tragically, almost one in six of those children won’t survive, and the disease is the biggest cause of death of children aged 0-14 in the country. Each year about 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide, and 60% of those kids don’t have access to modern treatment.
But in years to come, through raising awareness, generating funds, changing lifestyles, developing research, and the pulling together of all the help, resources and resilience that communities, health services, charities and local people can bring, we can change this picture. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“Childhood cancer is a subject that nobody really wants to think or talk about, but unfortunately it’s a reality that hundreds of families in Scotland have to face every year.
“We all have dreams of the person we want to become and what we want to achieve in life. For some children, those dreams are interrupted and sometimes shattered, by a cancer diagnosis.
“This month provides us with an opportunity to inform communities and supporters what they can do to help these children fighting for their lives and to help prevent cancer.
“Indeed, through simple daily things every person in Cumbernauld can play their part in helping to reduce childhood cancer both now and in the future.”
The risk of childhood cancer locally is increased given that one in five adults in Lanarkshire currently smoke and 21.8% of children aged 4-5 living in the area are classed as obese.
To improve this situation, Cancer Research UK is calling on Scottish Government to provide prompt smoking cessation and ongoing support across all healthcare settings. The organisation is also advocating for the introduction of legislation to restrict multi-buy price promotions on junk food.
Below, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub provides ten suggestions of things that local people can do to help and make a difference.
TIME TO RESPOND: 10 WAYS TO HELP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER
Support and Donate Where Possible
There are many worthwhile charities committed to the fight against childhood cancer, including CLIC Sargent, Children with Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, amongst others. You don’t have to give a lot of money or all the time, even a small amount when and if you can afford it can make a big difference.
Leave a Gift in Your Will
This could be to a specific charity, cause or campaign which is committed to helping to research, treat or support children with cancer. This is becoming increasingly popular and is contributing to significant advances in medical treatments.
Change Your Family’s Eating and Drinking Habits
By supporting your children to eat clean, whole and real foods, eliminate sugars, and drink more water, you can significantly reduce your families’ risk. It is known that at least 35% of cancers are related to what you eat.
Encourage Your Family to Be More Active More Often
Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in physical activity can lower the risk of various types of cancer. In Cumbernauld town centre, there are initiatives such as a Community Space which provides opportunities for children and families to become active for free.
Check With Your Doctor Sooner Than Later
The earlier the diagnosis and intervention, the more treatable cancer is and the higher the survival rate. If you have any concerns about symptoms displayed by your child, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, see your GP as soon as possible. It’s always better to be safe and get things checked out.
Educate and Inform Your Children
Communicating the risks and health consequences of unhealthy behaviours such as tobacco, alcohol and unsafe sex in an appropriate and sensible way can make all the difference in reducing your child’s risk of cancer.
Look Out for Other Families
Remember that some children or families experiencing health or social inequalities or deprivation in the Cumbernauld area may not recognise or understand the signs or risks of cancer. Take time to give them information and refer them to an agency or health service that may be able to help them. By doing this, you could just save a life.
Be Compassionate and Understanding
Be kind, empathetic, supportive and non-judgemental to the plight and suffering that families going through cancer may be experiencing, regardless of how things may seem on the surface. Just by being there as a friend, parent, guardian, carer, colleague, adviser, volunteer or health worker can make all the difference in a child’s recovery.
Make a Child or Family’s Dream Come True
If you can help a child or family going through cancer to realise a dream or receive a gift, the spirit of recovery and hope becomes stronger. It doesn’t even have to be a massive thing or something that costs a lot of money. Just a day at the park or swimming pool or cinema can help with distraction and focussing the child on something positive. Organisations like the Make a Wish Foundation may be able to help.
Never Give Up and Keep Fighting
In the UK, 91% of children survive cancer for one year and 82% survive for more than five years. Remember that more children and families are beating cancer every single year. There are some amazing recovery stories on which hope for the future can be drawn.
Some other great ideas on what you can do to help is available by visiting Children with Cancer’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month page online.
Another simple but potentially powerful thing you can do to help is sharing this article on your Facebook or other social media feed by clicking on any or all of the below share options.
If you would like some free informal advice in relation to childhood cancer, a Cancer Awareness Roadshow is taking place on Thursday 10 September 2020 at Cornerstone House Centre’s Community Space facility at Unit 14 of Antonine Shopping Centre, Cumbernauld.
Members of the public are invited to drop at any time from 10.00am-4.00pm on the day to speak with an expert cancer nurse from Cancer Research UK. Further Cancer Awareness Roadshows will take place at the same venue on Thursday 8 October 2020, Thursday 5 November 2020 and Monday 30 November 2020.