Imagine you are a parent of a 5-year-old daughter. She has beautiful big round eyes, the cutest button nose and a giggle that's contagious. She is ambitious, creative and curious; she is easily one of the best things that have ever happened to you.
Just recently she got admitted into the hospital once again due to unexplained weight loss and lack of energy. Being the good parent that you are, you stick it out in the hospital room waiting for the doctor to come back with the long-anticipated biopsy tests results. A doctor finally walks in and asks to speak with you outside. Then, these words fall off his lips, “Your child has stage-four lymphoma cancer.”
You feel your throat tighten up, your heart skips a beat and you start experiencing a heat flash. You no longer hear the doctor's voice; you’re numb and decide to gaze at your child through the confined rectangular glass window looking into the hospital room memorizing the details of her face like it's the last time you’ll see it.
You suddenly start panicking, questioning to yourself: How am I going to explain to my kid what they are about to go through? How am I going to pay for all the treatments? How much longer do I have with her?
There is no book or home education class that teaches parents how to go through childhood cancer. Every one in five kids that get diagnosed with cancer ends up dying; making it one less potential Albert Einstein or Amelia Earhart.
Luckily the St. Baldrick’s Foundation creates local Long Beach events such as “Shave For Kids,” that occurred last Saturday which are designed to build awareness and raise funds for children and cancer research.
The event originally started in 2002 for a Long Beach child cancer patient Kayleigh S. St. Baldrick’s would hold events to help fund for her cancer treatments. Unfortunately, as time passed she grew herself a pair of wings and the events started diminishing.
“I then took over the events and we still have kids from her previous schools coming out for support,” chair Jim Fraser said. “We now recognize mostly cancer kids of Long Beach, a good portion have been honored and have attended the event.”
The St. Baldrick’s events purpose was to achieve growth awareness in the community, raise community support and gather corporate sponsors. In response, the turn out was greater than expected. The headcount of people that shaved there head was roughly 206 people- 14 teenagers and five registered coordinators.
Outside the event on Cherry Avenue, car horns honked and students from a cancer awareness club at Millikan High School chanted while collecting donations in a bucket from people that drove by.
As visitors made their way inside the free event, silent auctions for two wooden flags were held. St. Baldrick’s green rubber bracelets and “Rock the bald buttons” were up for grabs for all attendees, while shirts were provided for people who raised at least $50. For visitors with an empty stomach, sandwiches, hot dogs, pudding cups and alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks were available to sip and munch on while talking to other Long Beach locals.
Upon walking around the event, St. Baldrick’s had pictures of the honored kids laying on tables. Kids who were selected to be honored received support and recognition from the community as well as a spot on the St.Baldrick's website where the child's GoFundMe account will be promoted.
In regards to kids who are trying to survive cancer, they end up having problems that require extensive treatment that eventually costs a lot of money. Being the foundations 17th year doing this event, they pride themselves in being one of the oldest and longest standing events in the country that help cover children treatment costs.
“St. Baldrick’s is the nation's largest private funder for children cancer research,” Fraser said. “Initially our goal was to hit $40,000, we are now at $67,000 and counting; hoping to reach $70,000.”
Fraser highlighted how children’s cancer is very unique from adult cancer resulting in them focusing on this research. Children can develop the cancer until the mid-20s. This alone shows how slow cancer develops.
“About 4 percent of the national cancer budget goes to children cancer research, which is very little; hence the need for this foundation,” Fraser said. “We would like to build awareness and if anyone wants to continue to donate the website is always open, it's not just a one-day event.”
To donate or scroll amongst the children who have relentlessly been fighting their cancer battles visit: https://www.stbaldricks.org/donate.
Big thanks to corporate sponsors JetBlue, Kiewit, Pacific6 Enterprises, Power Pro Plumbing, and Kombucha.