Go For Gold On Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the NI Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC) is launching a campaign to increase understanding of the disease as well as its long-term effects on the child and whole family.

Previously there has never been much emphasis placed on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in the UK. It was formerly held in December but has now changed to September to bring us in line with the United States for a stronger approach.

[caption id="attachment_51689" align="alignleft" width="390"]Nicole Fields, Cancer Fund for Children Specialist Sara Kieran and Alara Basturk help launch Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September) at Belfast City Hall Nicole Fields, Cancer Fund for Children Specialist Sara Kieran and Alara Basturk help launch Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September) at Belfast City Hall[/caption]

NICFC, the leading local children’s cancer charity that offers practical, emotional and financial support, is urging the public to get behind the campaign this year to ensure it has a lasting impact. The charity estimates there are currently 350 children and teenagers in Northern Ireland living with cancer and three young people are newly diagnosed every week. These children will experience, the traumatic and stressful journey of treatment plans and hospital visits, whilst not knowing what the future holds for them.

Susan Basturk from Belfast is taking part in the campaign to support the charity that helped her family after her little girl Alara (5) was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012. Leukaemia covers cancer of the white blood cells and bone marrow. It is the most common cancer type in children – accounting for around a third of all cases according to Cancer Research UK.

Susan recalled her daughter’s diagnosis. She said: “Nobody really knows what it is like to experience your child being diagnosed and see them endure rigorous treatment plans unless you have gone through it yourself. We endured weeks spent on a hospital ward and many sleepless nights. The daily routine became about infection avoidance and constant hospital trips. The family was exhausted.

“Cancer Fund for Children provided us with a therapeutic short break in Newcastle which was just what we needed at such a stressful time. It was just great to be away from home and away from everything. It gave us a much-needed chance to relax and recuperate. Alara and her little brother Arda also benefitted from the help of a Cancer Fund for Children Specialist, who came to the house and gave them one-to-one support.

“This gave them a chance to really open up and talk about anything that was worrying them. This also gave me some time to myself. We could not have got through our cancer journey without the support of Cancer Fund for Children. It is so important to educate people about the disease in young people, how it affects the whole family and what support there is out there,” she said.

NICFC understands the whole family is affected by the disease and that long-term effects do not stop just because treatment is completed. Our Specialist team offers dedicated one to one, sibling and bereavement support as well as free therapeutic breaks to families affected. If your family is affected by childhood cancer and needs help or advice please contact the NICFC  on 028 9080 5599.

This year, the organisation will be encouraging people to purchase and wear a gold ribbon to show their support and to change their social media profile pictures to a gold ribbon for the month of September to raise awareness. The charity is also urging people to donate by texting DAISY to 70555.

For more information on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, where to purchase pins and how you can get involved visit our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/NICancerFund

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