“Not every person who goes through cancer therapy has physiologic changes that interfere with their lives, but everybody who goes through that experience has some emotional change that takes place, or some psychological change.” Anna T. Meadows, MD, Director of the Cancer Survivorship Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Striving for More, Inc is a nonprofit organization that was created in response to the alarming lack of psychological and emotional support available in hospitals for children with cancer.
The following is an excerpt in the Executive Summary for the book entitled Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs published by the Institute of Health.
Today, it is not possible to deliver good-quality cancer care without using existing approaches, tools, and resources to address patients’ psychosocial health needs. All patients with cancer and their families should expect and receive cancer care that ensures the provision of appropriate psychosocial health services.
- A child is diagnosed with cancer every 3 ½ minutes
- Cancer in childhood occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region.
- On the average, 36 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer everyday in the United States.
- In the United States, among children, from birth to age 19, more than 18,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year.
- One in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of twenty.
- There are over 35,000 children currently in treatment for cancer.
- Attempts to detect childhood cancers at an earlier stage, when the disease would react more favorably to treatment, have largely failed.
- Young patients often have a more advanced stage of cancer when first diagnosed. (Approximately 20% of adults with cancer show evidence the disease has spread; yet almost 80% of children show that the cancer has spread to distant sites at the time of diagnosis).
- About 4,000 children die from cancer each year. That's 11 children every single day, every single year.
- Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States.
- About 25% of all children who are diagnosed with cancer die.
- Childhood Cancer survivors are at higher risk for additional cancers, medical complications and shortened life.
- Cancer treatments can affect a child’s growth, fertility and endocrine system.
- Child survivors may be permanently immunologically suppressed.
- About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.
- Over the past 20 years, increase of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29%.
- On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.
- Children do not usually share their feelings of fear with their parents in an effort to protect them.
- When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family is affected.
- Cancer is not contagious but support of the family is Contagious. When you know a child who is diagnosed with cancer, be the first one to offer support -- others will follow.
Pediatric Cancer Realities
- Childhood cancer is not a single disease, but rather many different types that fall into 12 major categories. Common adult cancers are extremely rare in children, yet many cancers are almost exclusively found in children.
- While progress against childhood cancer has been made, cure rates for some pediatric cancers remain below 50 percent.
- 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%.
Although children are often surrounded by loved ones when they are ill, they frequently hide their feelings of fear and anxiety from those they love in an attempt to protect them. Qualified emotional support should be an integral part of treatment, ensuring that both child and family have the resources they need to get through this often terrifying journey.
Insurance companies do not easily reimburse this type of emotional support. Unless you live in a community with a large children’s hospital where corporate benefactors or grants have been dedicated to fund emotional support, families are left to fend for themselves when it comes to the emotional well being of their children.
After personally experiencing the dramatic gaps that exist in services today, Diane Moore founded Striving for More to pursue dedicated funding for support resources - so that no family has to endure childhood cancer alone.
 Committee on Psychosocial Services to Cancer Patients/Families in a Community Setting. Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs. Washington, D.C., 2008