Yesterday, my son Julian had his monthly doctor appointment, marking one year of being both cancer-free and chemo-free. This might seem like an arbitrary anniversary, but it’s actually a huge milestone. After a year off of chemo for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), your chances of relapse go down significantly. Also, his doctor visits will go from once a month to once every three months.
It was an exciting day, and it got me thinking. When Julian was first diagnosed, so many people asked me “How can I help?” and “What can I do?” I never had a good answer. But now, I think I do have some good answers. Julian’s visits to the hematology/oncology clinic are rare now, but many kids are just starting their journey. Some are newly diagnosed. Others are back at the clinic after a heartbreaking relapse. There are things you can do to help.
1. Sign this petition!
Spend any amount of time in the cancer clinic of a Children’s Hospital, and you’ll meet a lot of parents who can’t afford their kids’ cancer treatments. Since driving these families deep into debt apparently isn’t enough, some health providers have started using something called “specialty tiers” drug pricing, which is a fancy way of saying they’re “charging way too much money for certain life-saving drugs, just because they can”. It’s a horrible practice that forces some patients to skip parts of their treatments because they can’t afford it. There’s a bill in Congress right now to end specialty tiers drug pricing. If you’d like, you can sign this Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-sponsored petition and make your voice heard.
2. Support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
LLS does amazing work toward helping cancer patients and researching new treatments. It’s a great organization full of passionate people, and there are many ways to support it. In fact, my sister-in-law Jen Wood has organized an LLS fundraiser as part of Light The Night Walk! So there you go! http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL13/JWood
And if you can’t afford to donate, you can still participate in the walk. I’ve never been, but I hear it’s quite an experience. Julian and I are planning to go this year.
3. Support Child’s Play
Those familiar with my band Supercommuter probably know that we give all of our record sales proceeds to Child’s Play. We continue to do this because we believe in what they do, which is buy toys and videogames for childrens hospitals. You can support them here: http://www.childsplaycharity.org/