Cullman, Ala – According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), every three minutes, a family learns that their child has cancer. Sadly, about 20% of those children won’t survive.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) is recognized nationally each September. In response to a request from local resident Lori Luckhard, who recently lost her granddaughter Maggie Kathryn Grant to childhood cancer, Mayor Woody Jacobs has proclaimed September 2021 “Childhood Cancer Awareness Month” in Cullman.
“Yesterday, I declared ‘Prostate Cancer Awareness Month,’ which is very personal to me because my dad died of prostate cancer,” said Mayor Jacobs. “But childhood cancer is heart-wrenching for everyone, and I just pray to the Lord that one day we will have a cure for it.”
Lori and her husband, Rob Luckhard, were present for the proclamation presentation along with Maggie’s father, Victor Grant, and family friend Darin House.
“We are doing this in honor of Maggie Grant and so many other children in Cullman County that have been affected by childhood cancer,” said Lori. “This is a very personal issue for all of us.”
Maggie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) on March 18, 2019. She underwent chemotherapy and gained remission in August of that year, but by January 2020, her cancer had returned. Maggie bravely endured more tests, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant with bone marrow donated by her older brother, Kyle. But by November 2020, her cancer had returned. Maggie passed away on March 26, 2021, surrounded by her family. She was only four years old.
Maggie’s battle with childhood cancer spurred Lori and her family to become tireless advocates for childhood cancer research funding.
“Childhood cancer research received less than 4% of federal funding for all cancer research,” said Lori. “That’s not enough! Our hope is that we can work together to bring more awareness to our county and state – and eventually the entire country – about the need for more funding for research and kinder treatments for our children.”
Statistics show that 15,780 children aged 0-19 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday, and 30,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. The average age at which children are diagnosed with cancer is 6. Cancer remains the number one cause of death by disease for children in America.
“There are children in our community battling cancer right now and, tragically, there are some who have recently passed from this terrible disease,” said Mayor Jacobs. “I greatly admire Maggie’s family and others who find a way to channel their very personal loss into a passionate determination to help others.”
ACCO statistics show that the prognosis for children diagnosed with cancer is better than it was 40 years ago. More than 80% of children with cancer will now survive five years or longer, as compared to only 58% in the mid-1970s. However, that road to survival is a difficult and often painful one for these children and their families.
“These children can’t fight cancer alone,” added Lori. “If it was your child or grandchild, you’d want something done, too.”
The international symbol of childhood cancer is a yellow or gold ribbon. During the month of September, individuals, organizations and businesses are encouraged to wear or display yellow or gold bows or ribbons in observance of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“We hope all of Cullman will show their support by displaying yellow or gold bows or ribbons on store fronts and mailboxes,” Lori added. “We also hope that the rest of Cullman will begin to feel the same sense of urgency that we do for childhood cancer research to become a national priority.”
The following resources are available for more information on childhood cancer:
- American Childhood Cancer Organization | https://www.acco.org/ | 855-858-2226
- National Cancer Institute | https://www.cancer.gov/ | 800-4-CANCER | NCIinfo@nih.gov
- National Pediatric Cancer Foundation | nationalpcf.org | 813-269-0955
- American Cancer Society | https://www.cancer.org/ | 800-227-2345
To learn more about Maggie Kathryn Grant and her brave battle with childhood cancer, or to make a donation toward childhood cancer research in Maggie’s memory, visit: https://nationalpcf.org/programs/diy/donate-in-memory-of-maggie/.