Opinion | Cancer awareness needs more attention

Issues such as cancer awareness that aren’t easily politicized are too often ignored and pushed to the sidelines of societal attention.


Katina Zentz

Fans wave after the first quarter during the Iowa football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Redhawks 38-14.

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

September is a month of trees changing colors, weather getting colder — and childhood cancer awareness. Even when we are not in the middle of the craziest year anyone has ever experienced, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month gets overlooked.

Issues pertaining to the economy, gun laws, and abortion are in the news all the time. We tend to talk about and take interest in these politicized topics. Unfortunately, that comes with the side effect of having other life-and-death matters brushed aside.

Something being non-partisan does not mean it isn’t deserving of media and societal attention. Forty-three kids are diagnosed with cancer every day. More than 40,000 kids undergo cancer treatment each year, and 12 percent of them do not survive. The percentage might seem low, but even one life lost to cancer is too many.

Kids with cancer might go through surgery, radiation, and chemo therapy. Certain childhood cancers are also treated by stem-cell or bone-marrow transplants. Newer forms of treatment are targeted therapy drugs and immunotherapy.

While it’s awesome that pediatric cancer patients have treatment options, they can also cause side effects, such as anemia, fatigue, and hair loss. 

Kids should be scared of monsters under their beds — not a real, deadly disease. They should attend school, play with friends, and fight with their siblings instead of going through treatment for a lethal illness.

Possible ways to help kids with cancer include donating to hospitals, such as St. Jude.

In order for society to gain the motivation to do something to help, the media must present the facts, statistics, and stories to help people realize this problem needs to be addressed.

Another possible reason why Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is not talked about often is that nobody wants to talk about kids dying.

It’s a lot more fun to talk about who won the CyHawk Trophy than how cancer does not discriminate based on age. While obviously heartbreaking, ignoring the problem will not fix anything.

It’s natural to feel compassion toward pediatric cancer patients. That’s great, but we should not let sympathy prevent us from realizing they are kids. They have all the joy, innocence, and cuteness of childhood.

Supporting kids with cancer does not have to be purely financial. It’s hard to imagine, since every picture of a kid with cancer includes a smile, but they struggle emotionally.

A 2017 study found patients of pediatric cancer more likely than their siblings to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental-health issues. Being aware of how cancer impacts psychological well-beings will give health professionals ideas on how to help patients mentally.

The wave makes kids with cancer smile. In all the excitement of football, let’s not forget about this sweet tradition. People are still continuing waving to the kids. COVID-19 has not made us forget to support them.

Regardless of the different jerseys worn on game day and political views of the spectators, we can all give hope to the strongest players by reminding them they are not alone.

Pediatric cancer patients have the ability to unify people from different political parties and sports teams. They teach us that kindness makes the flowers bloom in the winter and sun shine in the darkest of nights.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.