Pediatric cancer patients, families try to increase awareness during Childhood Cancer Awareness month

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Many say the awareness for childhood cancer is lacking so Georgia Health Sciences is trying to change that.

They have placed gold ribbons, the color that represents childhood cancer awareness, on trees surrounding the Children's Medical Center. The ribbons will stay up all month long trying to raise awareness for children like 12-year-old Tanner Reese.

Last summer Tanner found out he had leukemia.

"It was the day after my birthday that I got it. It was last summer," he said. "I was just not feeling well and couldn't hold food down so we went to the doctor got blood work and came here that night."

He is one of almost 13,000 children diagnosed with cancer last year.

"I still did not realize how many kids are diagnosed every year and every day how many kids die," said his mother, Denise Reese. "He's lost quite a few friends from cancer and that's hard. Our kids are having to deal with stuff that you shouldn't have to deal with until you're an adult."

Pediatric cancer affects 1 in every 300 children and it's something they say not enough people are aware of.

"Grownups, they get lots of attention," Tanner said. "I never knew how many kids had this until now. I had to get it to know. There's just way too many."

About 40 new children come into the center in Augusta each year.

"I think it's something that needs more awareness," said Bret Frazier, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2010. "Nobody knows what the gold ribbon is for. You see the pink ribbon all the time, you know and it's all good stuff, but I'd like to see more gold ribbons around."

On Friday, cancer patients and their families hung gold ribbons for Childhood Cancer Awareness on the trees around the Children's Medical Center, but Tanner is doing more than just hanging the ribbons.

"I'm in a newsletter class in my middle school and everybody writes an article," he explained. "I wanted my article to be about pediatric cancer month and make all these kids aware of how many actually get it and don't come out of it."

Awareness that's crucial to finding a cure They say when the awareness isn't there, the money isn't, either. This is the first year they have hung the ribbons and they are hoping they will raise the awareness and hopefully bring in more funding for research.


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