I remember when Memorial Day, (an American holiday) was called Decoration Day and that it is always observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in our military. My history teacher would be pleased to know that I remember it originated in the years following the Civil War but I was surprised to discover it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971. That is truly something very hard to believe.
For me, it used to be a day marked by parades and visiting the graves or memorials of those who gave their lives for our wonderful country. And while it has always been the unofficial first day of summer somehow it seems to have morphed into just another long holiday week-end. A very sad transition and one which needs changing back to its roots. Today, if you know anyone who has served their country thank them, it’s the least we can do.
On the other hand, two years ago Memorial Day took on a very different meaning. You see, it was on this holiday that we rushed our son Brady to the emergency room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and 5 long days later it was confirmed his cancer had returned and the prognosis was extremely bleak. Two months later at the age of 23 months, Brady died in mothers arms. Two years ago and yet it seems like yesterday.
Two years later and still the facts remain virtually the same: childhood cancer is the number one disease killer in children.
Two years later and still 15 children will be diagnosed with cancer for every one child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS. Yet, the U.S. invests approximately $595,000 for research per victim of pediatric AIDS and only $20,000 for each victim of childhood cancer. The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal budget was $4.6 billion. Of that, breast cancer received 12%, prostate cancer received 7%, and all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined received less than 3%.
Two years later and childhood cancer still kills more children than any other disease; more than Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes and Pediatric AIDS combined.
Two years later and every school day 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer. 1 in 330 children will have the disease by age 20.
Two years later and sadly, over 4,600 children have died from the horrors of pediatric cancers.
Two years later and the statistics remain sadly the same...
So, today as you pay respect and rememberance to all those who have served our country, please take a moment to remember the 40,000 kids who are fighting for their lives. Maybe, just maybe someday we will celebrate the day when childhood cancer was cured.