In recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the beginning of the new school year, we're sharing part of an essay that William, an advocate and leukemia survivor, wrote for his English class last year about his experience as a child with cancer and the need to continue advocating for other kids with this disease.
"I was diagnosed with leukemia in July of 2001 at age three and for the next three years, my early childhood would be spent in the hands of extraordinary doctors and nurses for whom I am forever grateful. Along with spending many days and nights at the hospital with only one of my parents at a time, the rest of my childhood was made normal with the help of family and friends.
As much as the doctors and nurses made my cancer experience easier and better, the one thing that made the experience tough on me and my family was the medicine.
This is not just a unique problem for my family and me, but also for the thousands of other pediatric cancer survivors and their families. At the age of three, I was taking several different pills every day, all of which I chewed because I did not know how to swallow pills. The taste was beyond horrendous, and even the flavor of chocolate could not mask the taste....
I have met countless numbers of brave cancer survivors who can’t have babies when they grow up, or have single or double leg amputations, permanent hair loss at age five, permanent loss of hearing, stunt of growth, and countless other effects that will undoubtedly shape their lives. This is all a result of kids being forced to take adult cancer medicine. Their young bodies are not equipped to handle the high power of the adult medicine.
In a country with so many innovations just in the past five years, I, as well as the rest of the cancer community, find it outrageous and inexcusable that kids are getting the same cancer treatment with the same side effects since the 1980’s. While it may not be the most profitable kind of drug to make and sell, as the survival rate has increased, it is imperative to make medicine tailored for children.
We live in a country that prides itself on promised freedom. However we have let cancer take away this guaranteed freedom from innocent children."
William is a strong voice for the 13,500 children who are diagnosed with cancer each year. He shared his story with his teacher and classmates and is helping spread awareness about childhood cancer. It can take one story to get someone involved - but it takes all of our stories to get everyone involved.
Share William's essay with someone OR share your story with us here. Thanks for advocating for our kids.
P.S. Did you catch the launch of our new video? http://bcove.me/u38w88he That's William's mom!