The Childhood Cancer Battle . . . It’s Personal

The phrase “it takes village” is sometimes attributed to the African Kijita proverb, “Omwana ni wa bhone.” The sentiment of the prose suggests that regardless of a child’s biological parents, the entire community is personally responsible for the upbringing. It places the obligation for the care of every child, on everyone. It is a culture of standing in the gap when there is a need, without question, without expectations, without judgement. It means that everyone takes a personal accountability to ensure the next generation receives the proper care.

Frequently, our society has a mindset of “looking out for number one” as if taking care of oneself is the only way to ensure personal preservation. We often hold fast to the “I can do it myself” philosophy and believe that the only way to ensure success is to push harder, think faster, and outsmart everyone else. As I see it, this attitude fosters a belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Couple this ideology with a “not my problem” attitude and we become a culture where the only things that are personal are our own problems and reaching out to others becomes a burden.

Please don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that there are countless philanthropic hearts among us. But, for many, benevolence is not an attribute that comes innately. Until the need is our own or hits close to home, it can be hard to justify the time and resources required to make a difference.

In the formative days of Gold In September (G9) my daughter, Annie, had a profound thought, one that remains a cornerstone of what we are trying to accomplish at G9. As she considered the difficult battle our family endured she made this insightful comment: “You can’t win the fight against this awful disease with just the people who are trying to fight it, that’s like trying to win a war with only the wounded.”

Those personally impacted by childhood cancer often feel like “walking wounded,” trying to fight the battle of caring for their kids, all the while looking for answers in hopes no one else will have to wage the same war. For them (as will always be for me) it is very personal. But when you fight this fight long enough, you realize that it is not something you can take on alone. The obligation of this battle and the healthy upbringing of our children requires a village.

As divided as our nationwide village is over politics, the topic of childhood cancer is one that belongs to neither the left nor the right, it belongs to all of us. Just two days ago, on a national stage, childhood cancer was given the spotlight as a crisis deserving of attention . . . and funding. It is now up to all of us to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable, contribute to the success of our village, and fulfill our obligation to the children who belong to us all.

Ownership for fighting childhood cancer belongs to all of us. Will you join our village? Will you make it personal?

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