Being told that your child has cancer is something no parent should ever have to experience.
Unfortunately, many families end up having to deal with it during their lifetime. With more than 10,000 children battling cancer in Canada, Childhood Cancer Canada is hoping to raise awareness about the need for research funding with events like the one I attended today.
The first-ever Canadian Mom Shave event took place this morning, hosted by Childhood Cancer Canada and the #MomSquad – a sisterhood of Canadian moms who came together to share personal stories of childhood cancer and shave their heads to raise awareness.
Thankfully, there was a dedicated ’tissue-hander-outer’ on hand.
I sat next to a little boy named Aiden who was diagnosed with a soft tissue tumor in his prostate at 10 weeks old. The operation to remove his tumor was successful, but after 6 months in remission he relapsed. Despite what he’s been through, he had a little tidbit of info to share with me.
“You get totally spoiled when you’re in the hospital,” he told me. “I got all the pineapple I wanted.”
Aiden went through chemo, radiation and surgery – and he’s now remained in remission for 8 years. “My favourite colours are blue and green. And I’m going into grade 6 next year,” he tells me.
He’s a chatty, regular little 5th grade kid. He’s got little boy hair with just a touch of bedhead, a big smile and he spends most of the time focusing on how ‘lucky’ he was to have all the pineapple and X-Box he wanted in the hospital.
While kids are getting ‘luckier’ – forty years ago, survival rates among kids with cancer were less than 60% and today, over 82% of children survive – childhood cancer is still the leading disease-related cause of death for children in Canada. And only 4% of cancer research funding is dedicated towards children’s cancers.
Increased funding is clearly crucial. And Moms want you to know about it.
As the shaving event was set to begin, I asked one of the Moms participating in the event if she had ever shaved her head before. “I did it once. Last October, a while after my daughter’s diagnosis. I felt powerless and desperate to do something. The only thing I could control was what my hair looked like. So I cut it all off.”
My eyes began to water as I listened to her. I grabbed a kleenex, slightly embarrassed and told her that I’m clearly bad at interviewing.
“It’s just hair,” she smiled at me kindly in that comforting way Moms do. “It grows back.”
The strength in the room this morning was undeniable.
To donate $10 to Childhood Cancer Canada, you can text momsquad to 45678. Or you can visit support.childhoodcancer.ca/momsquad.