September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Did you know that in Hawaii, there are about 50 to 60 new cases of childhood cancer diagnosed each year? The survival rate for childhood cancers is about 78 percent, which unfortunately means more than 20 percent of the children do not survive.
Childhood cancer awareness is something very near and dear to my heart. I was four years old when I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). When the doctor made the diagnosis, I did not comprehend the severity and seriousness of the situation. My parents chose a clinical trial through the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center as advised by my oncologist Dr. Robert Wilkinson, more affectionately known as Dr. Bob. They felt this was the best course of treatment for me.
Once a month, I received what I remember to be the worst part of the cancer treatment -- the giant needle that injected a large dose of chemotherapy into my thigh. With the unwavering support of my parents and an incredible health care team, I’m here today, a 23-year-old student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in the Master’s Program for Communications (below are pictures of my mom and I , then and now). I’m healthy and grateful for the incredible support of the community.
As the youngest board member of Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation (HCCF), I understand the importance of giving back to an organization that does so much for the children and families affected by cancer. I have seen firsthand many of my fellow cancer survivors struggle through their battles with cancer. Many families face huge financial challenges when they have a child who has cancer.
HCCF serves to assist, support, and advocate for the needs of children diagnosed with cancer, their families, and long-term survivors of childhood cancer. We are dedicated to the children who are battling cancer, to those who have survived, and to those who survive in our hearts. HCCF was formed in 1991 by a group of parents and medical professionals after a statewide needs assessment showed that there were many childhood cancer needs not being met by any existing entity.
Why is HCCF necessary for Hawaii’s families battling cancer? In most cases when a child is diagnosed with cancer, one parent must quit working their job in order to be with the child through appointments and treatment. The financial burden on families is great, especially when medical bills start coming. HCCF’s biggest and most widely used program is its Financial Assistance Program which helps families pay for expenses such as rent, utilities, and medical bills not covered by insurance.
“I think your whole world stops, that moment you’re told your child has cancer. Everything you know will never be the same again,” shared Lisa Cain about the moment she found out her son, Xander had cancer. “You have no idea what you’re going to do next, when you’re told your child has cancer. (HCCF) were the ones who can bring you back down and tell you you’re not alone. And that there’s help for you.”
When you make a donation to HCCF, you are truly helping the children and families affected by cancer right here at home. “One of the really impressive things about HCCF is their ability to virtually reach out to every family and to give them something. It doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have or whatever, everyone is helped equally,” described Dr. Bob, one of HCCF’s founders.
HCCF is supported solely by generous donations. All donations stay here to help Hawaii families and children, who use 95 cents of every dollar for its programs.
To learn more or to donate to HCCF, please visit hccf.org.