According to Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, today over 15,700 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States, and 38 die every week. This number is expected to be 46 children per day or 16,850 children per year in 2020.
Worldwide, 100,000 children lose their lives every year to cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of death by disease among children. One in four families lose more than 40% of household income due to childhood cancer treatment.
Above mentioned statistics and more require multiple efforts to end childhood cancer cases. It starts from research to find the cures to supporting families with treatment and care. All these require huge investments which are not always available.
Great Cycle Challenge (GCC), the global movement that started in 2015, and became popular cycling events in the US. Being a person doing things with purpose I googled how I can have an impact while biking during the COVID19 quarantine time as a new biker. Finding GCC was very motivational for me, who hasn’t ridden any bikes my entire life and suddenly hopped on the bike this year.
Ride and fundraise: sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
September is the month of Childhood Cancer Awareness and people of all ages across the country have only one goal to pedal to fight childrens’ cancer. I have my own stories related to cancer, including childhood cancer.
My personal experience with cancer
It was a requirement to have summer internship in the summer of second year in medical school when I studied medicine. Of course, as a person who was into details, curious about our blood system I chose the Hematology Hospital to have my internship. However, not many students were interested, I got my “dream” to be an intern at hematology hospital. I was happy to hear that I will be in the children department. When I entered the department and saw the children that suffer from leukemia my happiness turned to be my nightmare. I was 17-18 years old, and a week without eating and sleeping was asking why? Why children, they are pure and innocent. Being a known cold hearted person, probably everyone around me got shocked when I announced I will stop my internship because I can’t look at those kids and their suffering. You know, the health system was also super weak to serve those kids.
I lost my father to a brain tumor while I was far away from him. I will never forget when he was beating his head because he couldn’t talk to me over the video calls. There is no health insurance available in my country to cover super expensive cancer treatments. I was doing everything (from dishwashing to care giving) in the US just to be able to help my family to increase his life as long as we could. He passed away, but I was still paying his medication bills.
I lost my aunt to cervical cancer years ago, which was the first cancer case in my family. I lost my super healthy and happy friend to lung cancer when she was 35 years old. Still can’t believe it, or still can’t accept all my loss to cancer.
When I was invited to be part of developing the National Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) Strategy, I concluded that cancer is the highest source of NCD premature deaths in my country, and I am sure in many low- and middle-income countries.
I am sure subconsciously, I didn’t practice as MD, and became an instrument for building affordable, comprehensive healthcare because of broken health systems that are not reliable and take lives like those children, my aunt, father and friend.
Riding with purpose
This year I challenge myself with my efforts to ride 200 miles and raise $500 throughout the September to remember those we’ve lost, and honor those who are fighting to survive.
Unfortunately, I’ve ridden 150.1 miles in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer and raised less money as today my challenge ends.
I want to show my gratitude to people who donated to my challenge, who show moral support, and to my friend who joined me in this challenge to make it more meaningful. We discovered new places, enjoyed brainstorming, and contributed to new initiatives.
Next year I will be a more experienced challenger and biker, and will be very loud and proud to raise much money to brighten kids lives not to suffer from cancer.