September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in PA
County fairs are over, autumn is all around us and the school bells are again ringing. This is true for most children but not for all. That is why I ask you to pause for a moment to recognize September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

For some of our community’s children, just getting out of bed or being able to drink a cup of juice can be a daily challenge as they battle one form of childhood cancer or another.

The American Cancer Society estimates that nationwide 12,060 children younger than age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. More than 1,340 of those children will lose their battle against this disease in the same time period. Cancer takes the lives of more children in the United States than any other disease, killing more people younger than age 20 than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined. It is the second leading cause of childhood death, exceeded only by accidents.

Fortunately, the five-year relative survival rate has improved remarkably over the past 30 years to approximately 80 percent. But there is significant progress that still needs to be made. The challenge is the fact that there are many types of childhood cancers and some varieties with low survival rates are still very difficult to treat.

I am proud to say Pennsylvania is a leader in the fight against and treatment of childhood cancers, with six children’s oncology group hospitals. In addition, two of only 10 institutions in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium are in Pennsylvania: the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital is one of 11 institutes nationwide in the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutic Consortium.

While we may recognize September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, the families and patients who have or are struggling with this difficult disease think about it with each passing moment. In recognizing this, I would ask that each one of us lift these children, their families, and their caregivers in prayer, offering them strength and love to fight on for another day.

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Dan Massing
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