RADCLIFF, KY (WAVE) – The diagnosis of cancer can be shocking, but imagine if you hear those words about your child. Without more funding for research, many families and doctors are scared that too many of us will keep hearing those words. One out of every five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive and that's why a Radcliff mother is asking you to join her army. Cheryl Alonso may not be able to save her son, but she will fight for your kids.
"We lost our 6-year-old son to cancer," said a crying Cheryl as she shared her story. "Isaiah's life was taken before he had a chance to fight it."
Like so many parents forced into the war against childhood cancer, the Alonso's were not ready for the battle. They were not aware of any warning signs and according to a child oncologist often times there are none.
"I took him to the doctor on September 3 for the cough," Cheryl said. "They told me it was allergies. Who am I to question that?"
After leaving the doctor's office, Cheryl filled the prescription for her son and hoped he would soon feel better. But just days later, Isaiah collapsed in the middle of the night. Once he was airlifted to Kosair Children's Hospital, there was no question - Isaiah had a malignant tumor surrounding his heart. Isaiah had cancer.
On September 10, 2010 at 6:05, Isaiah passed away in his mother's arms. There were no warnings and no time to fight for his life. Now Cheryl and Vincent Alonso travel a very rough and rocky road as survivors. They are learning the best they can to live on after the loss of a child.
"You can't just pick up where you left off," Cheryl explained. "My new walk is to raise awareness, raise funds to help families and to help find a cure."
That walk will take Cheryl all the way to Washington, D.C. on September 21 where she will join 45 other mothers because they say not enough people are paying attention.
"It does happen," said Cheryl. "It happens 46 times every single day and 7 die every day in the United States. Science failed them"
Because 46 times a day a child is diagnosed, 46 mommas from across the country will not fail them as they raise $1 million for childhood cancer research for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. They will also shave their heads at Union Station during rush hour.
"We need to be out there like breast cancer is," Cheryl said. "If you do a Google search for childhood cancer products, you're going to find one or two web sites. But breast cancer, you find it everywhere."
Dr. Salvatore Bertolone, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist, says most of our society does not associate kids with cancer.
"What people don't understand is that childhood cancer is the leading cause of death of children by disease," explained Bertolone. "Every day that school is in session, two classrooms full of children are diagnosed with cancer."
Bertolone believes it will take more than doctors to make a difference in the lives of our kids.
"Children don't vote and it's time that people stand up and took a stand and say, ‘hey, let's pay attention to our children because our children are our future,'" said Bertolone. "Breast cancer is federally funded. There is a federally funded grant from the feds every year for breast cancer."
Now 46 mommas will fight for funds needed to research and rally around this killer - childhood cancer. Out of those 46 mothers, 21 have lost a son or daughter to the disease. One of the mothers has two children currently in treatment.
"We're 46 moms who've been affected from childhood cancer that's the only thing we have in common," said Cheryl.
While they do share that pain of having a child with cancer they hope to one day share the good news that a cure for childhood cancer has been found. Today with the St. Baldrick's Foundation they raise the funds for research. Cheryl's goal is $10,000. To date, Cheryl has raised $6,100. She is about $3,900 shy of that goal.
As we stood at the foot of Isaiah's grave surrounded by little superhero figures, Cheryl wiped her eyes as she said, "There are so many other kids that can be saved and that deserve a chance to fight. No parent should have to come visit their child here."
To find out more about the Isaiah Alonso Foundation, click here.
You can also help me reach my goal which is to lift the financial burden of this trip from this momma's shoulders. Cheryl has not been able to get her plane ticket to D.C. and Vincent just couldn't get a ticket. I'm hoping after reading this story someone will help me fly them to D.C.
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