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U.S. 1/3 Of 9 To 10 Million Cancer Survivors Are Children, 20% Increase In Survival Rate

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

08-28-09

Aug. 26--"Sometimes I hear him crying...We try to make out as though we have no noticed his sadness, but it tears the heart out of me. Now {that} the days are getting longer, he often sits at the window watching the children outside, and he cannot play with them because he is too exhausted." -- Senator Ted Kennedy on the cancer treatment of his 12 year old son, Teddy Jr. (Apr 1974) from Ted Kennedy by Edward Klein

In 1981, my classmate and friend, Malaine Anspach -- an only child, died from a blood cancer. I remember seeing her in our high school literature class, the part in her hair becoming wider and more prominent, until she took on a wig. Later I visited her in the hospital, not long before she passed away. Malaine was only 17 years old.

Carolyn Rubenstein, author of Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors, writes that over the past 30 years, we have seen a 20% increase in the survival rates for children diagnosed with cancer. Though cancer is the second leading cause of death in children between ages one and 14, it is declining. Today one-third of the 9-10 million cancer survivors in the United States are children.

Carolyn Rubenstein, who is the founder of Carolyn's Compassionate Children (CCC) shares the stories of 20 young people who recount their battles with cancer in the book. Because 75% of pediatric oncology patients can be expected to survive, Rubenstein states that long term survivorship programs are important. Her organization, (CCC) is a nonprofit, providing emotional and financial resources to childhood cancer survivors. Since its inception in 2000, CCC has given out 100 college scholarships. In fact, all proceeds from the sale of Perseverance will be donated to CCC and the Chordoma Foundation.

Dr. Heather Conklin, pediatric neuropsychologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital states in the book, "Survivorship begins the day of diagnosis and extends the rest of a patient's life. Even with {a} cure, a history of cancer is not something easily compartmentalized for survivors. The invaluable lessons learned and the negative sequelae (conditions resulting from a disease) often reveal themselves only with time." After completing her research, Rubenstein adds that though childhood cancer is traumatic, survivors believe that the cancer experience was positive. "In most cases, this tumultuous journey provides you with a newfound perspective on life." Long term needs for today's survivors include medical, emotional, social and financial support.

Caregivers, usually the parents, make a difference during treatment and recovery by having a positive supportive attitude. This enables the child to cope with the stress of depression and anxiety, avoid feeling isolated and recover his or her self-esteem.

Rubenstein provides 10 Rules from what we can all learn from childhood cancer survivors: --Accentuate the positive: Don't sweat the small stuff --Stay healthy: Be proactive; Demand more tests if you suspect something serious --Educate yourself: Use the internet to gain new insight on a disease --Surround yourself with a support system --Don't be afraid to ask for help: People love to help --Laugh: It's good for the mind and the body

Have faith: "If you survive cancer, or if you are fighting cancer, you must always think that you will survive." -- Daniel Pack, Cancer Survivor --Celebrate life: Follow your dreams, don't put them off --Never give up: People who do great things persevere --Pay it forward: Do an act of kindness for three people and ask them to pay it forward rather than back by doing something good for three other people

Besides the encouraging stories of the survivors, Rubenstein has added useful Resources and Glossary sections. No longer is the diagnosis of cancer a death sentence. Perseverance is an excellent book of hope for all cancer survivors and their families to read. 5 Stars

About The Author: Carolyn Rubenstein first visited Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with cancer, at the age of six. The impact of that visit changed her life. A summa cum laude graduate of Duke University, Rubenstein is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Harvard. You'll find her online at Carolyn Rubenstein.com

Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors (Forge / Aug 2009) by Carolyn Rubenstein

Book Review: What Helped Get Me Through My Cancer

Book Review: Out of Suffering From Lupus Grew Friends' Health Connection

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