September Declared Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

The governing body declared September as Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in the borough. In conjunction with and celebration of Roselle Park resident Matteo Vitale being named the borough’s Superhero Of The Year, mayor and council recognized the fight an entire family goes through by bringing awareness to pediatric cancer.

Cancer in children is not just one specific illness but a range of afflictions that include leukemia, brain & spinal cord tumors, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin), rhabdomyosarcoma, retinoblastoma, bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma), and congenital mesoblastic nephroma.

The average age that a child in America is diagnosed with cancer is six-years-old. A family is notified of this life-changing diagnosis on an average of 43 times each day – once about every half hour. Worldwide, in the past few decades, the rates of childhood cancer have been rising with approximately 250,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 – around 700 new kids affected – every day.

One out of every five of those children loses their fight with pediatric cancer. It is the leading cause of death by disease in the United States for children under 15 years of age. Statistically, cancer kills more children than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy combined. Of those who do win their battle with the illness, two-thirds of them will develop long-lasting chronic conditions resulting from treatment.

Since the causes of most pediatric cancers are largely unknown and not strongly linked to lifestyle, it impacts children regardless of socioeconomic, ethnic, racial or geographic class.

Part of the insurmountable fight that families have to face against cancer is due to the fact that in the last 25 years, only two drugs have been specifically developed for children’s cancer.

That is why dedicated research is so important as it relates to pediatric cancer.

Funding for childhood cancer has declined steadily since 2003 and remains consistently underfunded. Less than 5% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers and only about 4% of funds raised for the National Cancer Institute go directly to pediatric cancer research.

The key to more research is awareness.

To that end, Roselle Park has ‘Gone Gold for Pediatric Cancer Awareness’ by having gold ribbons wrapped around trees and poles along Chestnut Street. This awareness campaign was spearheaded by Alfred and Kimberly Vitale, parents of Matteo Vitale, who was diagnosed with congenital mesoblastic nephroma and was just named the borough’s 2018 Superhero Of The Year. They continue to do everything necessary to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.

More information on National Childhood Cancer Awareness month can be found at the American Childhood Cancers Organization (link) as well as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (link).