September… Not that we needed a reminder…

It’s September again.  A month filled with so many emotions I’m not sure how I’m feeling from one second to the next.

I’m not sure what rooftop I need to scream this from, but IT’S PEDIATRIC CANCER AWARENESS MONTH.  This in itself is something that drives me a bit crazy, because shouldn’t people be aware of pediatric cancer every day?  I mean, seriously just look at some of these facts.  READ THEM, don’t just glance over them, REALLY READ THEM, ABSORB THEM:

  • every year an estimated 263,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide.  That’s 720 new cases of pediatric cancer EVERY DAY.
  • every day approximately 250 kids will lose their battle with cancer.  That’s 91,250 kids per year.
  • childhood cancer is THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in children by disease in the United States.
  • 2/3 of pediatric cancer patients will have long lasting side effects such as heart disease, lung disease, growth problems, physical and neuro-cognitive disabilities and more from pediatric cancer treatments.
  • The causes of childhood cancer remain unknown and are not linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors like most adult cancers.
  • less than 5% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated for childhood cancers each year.

One in 330 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old, and people think this is rare??  We only have “awareness” for a month?  And what kind of awareness is it anyway when the only ones spreading the word and wearing gold ribbons and posting it on their social media are other onco families and their friends who know someone who is affected? Next month, stores will be filled with pink everything from trinkets, to school supplies, to clothing… sports equipment and yogurt tops will have the pink ribbon, and a giant pink ribbon will hang from the White House to show support, raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a million times.  My Grandmother had breast cancer.  My Mother had breast cancer.  I will likely one day have breast cancer due to my history…. but why is saving the “ta-ta’s” more important than saving our children?? Because I would certainly rather live without my boobs than live without my son.  The White House is not gold for September, and there are no gold ribbons on any school supplies, food products or sporting goods.  With the odds of 1/330 kids being diagnosed, WHY aren’t more people in uproar over this?

Now, the other part of September.  The hollow, empty part of September.  The part where I miss out.  I miss out on shopping for school supplies for my 1st grader.  I miss out on helping him pick out a backpack and an outfit for the first day of school. I miss out on signing him up for after school sports and hanging up art projects brought home full of handprints and glitter.  There will be no tears of joy and pride watching Tanner get on the school bus and go off to first grade.  There are only tears of devastation knowing that he didn’t get the chance to do that.  He didn’t get the chance to go to first grade because he is one of the statistics, one of the 91,250 kids that lost their battle with cancer in 2011.  There are 273,750 sets of parents who are feeling that empty void along side of me today, since 2011.  Can you even wrap your head around that number?  That’s how many kids have died from cancer in the past 3 years.  When you have a child you envision so many hopes and dreams for them… all of my hopes and dreams along with so many other parents, were snuffed out by cancer.

Next week will be Chase’s first day of preschool.  Just like holidays and birthdays and any other celebrations, this will be a bittersweet occasion.  Heart torn in two, I still have all my hopes and dreams for Chase, and I will have tears of joy watching him go off to preschool… but Chase’s first day of school picture will be missing something.  His big brother.

So, amidst all the back to school frenzy, and amidst all the end of summer posts, and amidst all the rushing and hustle to get everyone dressed and on the bus on time… remember the kids that aren’t getting on the bus this year.  Remember the parents of those kids, who will always feel that void this time of year.  And when you do wear that gold ribbon, tell people why.  Tell them about my Tanner, or about any children you know affected by cancer… and then tell them to tell their friends too.  Spreading awareness is everyone’s responsibility.  I didn’t think much about pediatric cancer before Tanner was diagnosed.  Now, it’s impossible for me not to think about it.


Tanner’s Momma


Tanner after relapsing, in the PICU July 2010. See that little hand on my face? My angel reassuring me… how I miss that sweet baby boy…

P.S. – the Lexiebean Foundation is doing some great things this September to help children fighting pediatric cancer.  Please check out our website… our 4th Annual Charity Golf Outing is September 16th, 2013, and our Lexie’s Legs Teams are running a 50 mile relay – Ocean to Sound to raise funds and spread awareness.  Donations from these events go towards helping pay families expenses, medical bills, making baskets of cheer, and this month, purchasing school supplies for children well enough to return to school.  Help us help children with cancer!  Thank you, as always. <3

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  1. So beautifully written. I’ve taken a lot of your words to heart, but this photo is breathtaking. It literally took my breath away… So beautiful.

    Comment by fran on September 4, 2013 at 2:42 am

  2. Thankyou Fran, it is one of my favorites. He had just come off the ventilator and I was just able to hold him again. His hand on my face was my favorite feeling in the world.

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on September 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

  3. Melissa, I will never forget your sweet Tanner. As I watch Ella grow, I think of Tanner and you and my heart breaks knowing Tanner didn’t get the privilege of simply being a kid and experiencing the simple milestones like first day of school or soccer practice. And because of you and because of Tanner I don’t take these things for granted. You are doing an amazing job preserving Tanner’s memory and bringing awareness to pediatric cancer. So proud of all you do. Never stop…never give up. With love, Liz

    Comment by Liz on September 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

  4. Thankyou so much Liz… It means the world to me to have friends that remember him and support us. Xoxo

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on September 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

  5. Just saw this blog from a FB post by a mutual friend we have. We went to high school together and although didnt hang out in the same circles I certainly remember you. This article had me weeping as my 11m/o, happy and healthy, plays at my feet in our living room. Your words are powerful, full of raw emotion, and evoke a very deep sense of gratitude in my being for my baby boy. But also an intense sadness for you and all the other moms and dads who grieve everyday for their precious children. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability. It is truly disarming- in such a good way!

    Comment by Christina on September 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

  6. Thankyou so much Christina, for reaching out. Were we in the same class?

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on September 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  7. Yes, my maiden name is “Schuerger”, I went by Chrissy when we were in high school. I was friends (still am) with Jen Matarazzo, Beth Bambach and Jessica Berry.

    Comment by Christina on September 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm

  8. Awh I remember you Chrissy! Thanks again for reaching out and hug your little one tight for me ❤

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on September 6, 2013 at 1:22 am

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