When we think of cancer, many things come to mind. A mother. A grandparent. An uncle. Breast cancer. Lung cancer. Skin cancer. What most of us probably don’t think of? Children. When we think of children, images of youth, health and vitality come to mind. Yet for many kids in the U.S. and around the world, a healthy childhood is only a dream.
More than 15,000 children and teens in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year; of those, 1 in 5 won’t survive. Because childhood cancer is not common, many parents ignore the thought and do not research the illness until it is their child. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – a time to recognize those suffering, and a time to educate ourselves on their struggle and options.
Different Types of Childhood Cancers
Cancer is a general term for the uncontrolled division of cells that creates abnormal and malignant growths within or outside of the body. Cancer does not affect all age groups the same way. Common cancers in adults – such as breast, lung or colon cancer – are rarely in seen in children. Often more aggressive than adult cancers, childhood cancers are in a category all their own. Here are several types of childhood cancers:
- Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer)
- Bone cancer
- Wilms’ tumor (kidney cancer)
- Retinoblastoma (cancer of the retinal cell layer of the eye)
- Brain cancer
- Rhabdoid tumors
Each type affects different areas on the body in different ways, and also have different prognoses.
Traditional Cancer Treatment Options
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the three traditional methods that are used to treat childhood cancer. Most patients are offered a treatment plan that is based off the type of cancer and its nature. Some patients who have cancers that are more easily treated are given the option of using stage III clinical trials for treatments. Children can also receive bone marrow, cord blood and stem cell transplants. More children than adults use trial treatment. Each type of treatment comes with pros and cons.
Alternative Cancer Treatment Options
Traditional cancer treatments are hard on the body. To counter-effect the symptoms of traditional treatments – or as an alternative to harsh treatments – some parents and their children opt for complementary, holistic or alternative cancer treatments.
Complementary treatments are used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy. These include music therapy, aromatherapy, natural supplements, yoga and reiki. Complementary cancer treatments are intended to help improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the harsh side effects of some of the traditional treatment options. Naturopathic medicine is a nontraditional form of treatment that helps to relax the body and prepare the afflicted for the days to come. It can be used in conjunction with conventional oncology.
For some kids, the effects of chemo and radiation are too harsh, and rather than live with a reduced quality of life, they forgo conventional treatments altogether and choose alternative methods. Take Jared, a.k.a. Kid Against Chemo. After being diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Jared underwent a round of chemo – and endured severe side effects: weight loss, bone pain, sores, nausea, loss of taste. Faced with the prospect of ongoing pain and discomfort to treat his cancer, Jared opted instead for a natural route: energy healing, juicing, detoxing, eating organic food, infrared sauna use and working with a naturopath. Today Jared is cancer-free and still living a natural, health-focused lifestyle – that includes using a Sunlighten portable infrared sauna.
Infrared saunas can help in the fight against childhood cancer. Thanks to their detox benefits, infrared saunas can help remove toxic chemicals and heavy metals, reducing body burden, enhancing the immune system and freeing the body up to better kill cancer cells. For more on how infrared sauna use can help fight cancer, check out the post “Infrared Sauna Use by Cancer Patients.”
Sunlighten Supports St. Jude
Sunlighten is a proud supporter of the Kansas City St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude nationwide allowing the families at St. Jude to never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.