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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Knowledge I Can't Unknow

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At Kyle's Kamp meetings we have all kinds of plans.  All kinds of ideas.  All kinds of knowledge to share.  I've learned a lot in the last couple of years about childhood cancer.  As we talk over each other and our voices bounce off the walls of our little office, we have to remember to keep the focus of our mission in mind.  Of course, the ultimate mission of childhood cancer organizations is that we would some day be a useless group of passionate people looking for somewhere else to focus our ideas and knowledge.  We all want the end of this road.  We want the end of suffering.  We want the cure. 

There are lots of roads that lead to that place.  Many organizations work for patient and family care, many for research dollars, many for scholarships for those heading into the medical profession, some for summer camps for children suffering cancer, and some for specific research into specific types of cancer.  In the end, just about every single organization has "AWARENESS" in big bold letters at the top of any campaign.

At Kyle's Kamp when we think of the term "awareness" we refer to it as "making the unknown known". It's not that people don't care about children with cancer.  Of course, they do.  They just don't know what they don't know. And we have to give them the knowledge.  So we type up statistics and we send out emails.  We post on social media, we promote rallies and we hold conferences.  We scour studies and throw out facts.

*Only 4% of federal research dollars are spent on childhood cancer.
*7 kids die of cancer a day in the United States
*Childhood cancer is the number one killer of kids by disease in the United States
*In the past 20 years the FDA has approved only 2 new drugs for pediatric cancer treatment.

People, I can be in the middle of a serious superfreak meltdown, certain that I am hopelessly lost and yet my car can pretty much find its way all by itself to any darn baseball field in Virginia.  If I can't remember the name of that guy that sat behind me in math class in 7th grade, it's highly likely that within an hour, I will be able to find out not only his name, but also the names of his wife, his children, his pets and whether or not he flipped out when Russell Wilson threw on 2nd down instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.  And yet, children with cancer in 2015 are often times receiving the same medicines that children did in the 1950s. What in Sam Hill is up with that?

This kind of knowledge can make me coconuts, but honestly, it is not the statistics, the facts, or the numbers that nag at me in the night. 


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