Commentary: Make a difference and raise awareness for childhood cancers

By Amanda Termuhlen, M.D.
Medical Director
Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center
Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach

In 2013, more than 11,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer, and hundreds will die of the disease. Although survival rates for many childhood cancers have improved dramatically over the past few decades, cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease in children.
Researchers at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and many other pediatric cancer centers are making great strides in the search for a cure. Major treatment advances in recent decades have resulted in more than 80 percent of children with cancer now surviving five years or more. In fact, at the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center the cure rate for patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is 90 percent. Although these are steps in the right direction, it is not enough until we have a cancer-free tomorrow.
Even though Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center exceeds national averages in ALL cure rates, children with ALL still endure so much on their journey to a life free of cancer.
A typical treatment plan for a child with ALL results in:
• 231 missed days of school
• 1,652 antibiotic pills to prevent infections
• 2,504 chemotherapy pills
• 115 finger pokes
• 92 chemotherapy injections
• 58 outpatient doctor appointments
• 47 days in the hospital
• 22 spinal taps
• 8 emergency room visits
• 3 bone marrow tests
• 3 echocardiogram

Take the time to raise awareness and support research efforts for childhood cancers; so that the number of children affected decreases, treatment plans improve and survival rates increase.
In honor of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center team rallies to raise awareness of childhood cancer in our communities. This year there are many ways to get involved, both here in the Long Beach area and in cities across the country. Make a difference this September, join us as we spread awareness, hope and go gold for kids with cancer with our “Flames of Hope” project.
We invite the community to help us “light up” the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center awareness torch, which will be on display at Miller Children’s throughout September. Write an inspiring message, draw a picture or include a photo to show your support to our patients battling cancer. Send us your “Flames of Hope” and help raise awareness for childhood cancers.
Visit to print out your “Flame of Hope.”

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