This September, Embrace the Season and Remember the Little Ones
September has arrived, and families are back in the swing of things, starting a new school year and bracing for the often busy schedule it brings. And with some reluctance, swimming pools are closing, vacations are ending, our calendars are filling up and preparations are underway for cooler temperatures.

For some families, though, September does not bring up the bittersweet emotions of a new season. For some, this time of year is often a painful reminder of the loss of a child whose life was tragically cut short by childhood cancer.

This September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I hope you will take a moment to remember the little ones who won’t have the opportunity to get on the school bus or see the leaves changing color.

I hope you will also remember the families who have lost a child and will forever be recovering from the most difficult trial of their lives, and be sympathetic to those currently in the midst of the fight, whose lives are made even more hectic with chemo clinics, radiation treatments and hospital stays.

About 10,380 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2015, which is the second leading cause of death in children younger than 15 years old, after accidents. Experts expect about 1,250 children to die from cancer in 2015. In Pennsylvania, more than 600 children will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year alone.

But the outlook is not all grim. Because of major treatment and technological advances in recent decades, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer now survive five years or more. By comparison, in the mid-1970s, the five-year survival rate was less than 60 percent.

I know not all of us are doctors or researchers seeking a cure, but we can do something just as important.

We can pray for a scientific breakthrough. We can give from our abundance to help families less fortunate. We can remember to offer our support to those who are in the middle of the battle. We can live our lives to the fullest and not take the little things, like the changing of the seasons, for granted. We can raise awareness of childhood cancer by slowing down, counting our blessings and caring for others.

It is easy to dwell on our never-ending to-do lists, the busyness of everyday life, the riches we do not have or the sporting events that do not quite go our way. But I believe that it is much better to remember that life is a gift. Embrace the new season. We have many blessings for which to be thankful.

By Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin)

Editors Note: Rep. Kerry Benninghoff serves as chairman of the bipartisan House Cancer Caucus, which has held informational meetings with cancer researchers and doctors from Pennsylvania on the front lines in the battle against this disease. Pennsylvania has innovative universities and research facilities, which have helped to educate legislators about this issue.

Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner
717.260-6281 /
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