Bagdad, KY (WAVE) - September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It's 30 days to focus on one very important cause.
"Statistically I think they say about 1 in 330 kids will develop a pediatric cancer," childhood cancer advocate and Indian Summer Camp President Jon Dubins explains. He goes on to say, "I think that equates somewhere roughly to 40 kids a day were their parents are going to hear your child has cancer. I can't imagine. Seven of those families are gonna be making funeral arrangements."
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in children.
Shelby Dehner is also a childhood cancer advocate and the Executive Director of Indian Summer Camp, a camp for kids with cancer. While she is constantly fighting to make people aware that children get cancer too, she also has another battle at the camp.
"We want to give them back a part of their childhood that cancer took away," Dehner says with passion. She explains, "when a child is diagnosed with cancer, there's still a child. They still want to have fun. They still want to be a kid."
Indian Summer Camp is celebrating 30 years of making kids better from the inside out.
"It gets them away from thinking about chemo, radiation or that hospital or clinic environment," Dubins explains.
Julia Porter's son, Colin, did not miss Indian summer camp. But he lost his battle to cancer in 2004. Even with Colin gone Julia continued to go to camp as a volunteer because her son always told her it meant so much to him. She remembers his words, "that's what he said to me numerous times. Mom it's the only place I feel normal."
For one week...with oncology staff on board....kids affected by cancer are not patients but they are children fishing and swimming and playing. Thanks to the kindness of donors in Kentuckinana.
"We strive to never turn a child away but we are completely funded by donations. I would say that virtually none of our campers would be able to come to camp if they had to pay for it," said Dehner.
They also try to explain that cancer doesn't just affect the child. It takes a toll in many ways on the whole family.
Dehner stresses, "cancer...the amount of financial impact that it has on these families is astronomical."
The effect that camp has on the kids and the counselors is easy to see. Especially at the end of the week when it's time to say goodbye. At the end of the week there are many tears.
"We as staff and counselors call it sunglass Saturdays because we have to put our sunglasses on so the kids don't see us crying sometimes," Dehner says with a far off stare.
John Dubins feels it as well, "for me personally, the fact that iIget to spend time with them is probably more that I really deserve."
The camp is in need of volunteers, funds and in-kind donations. There is a camp wish list on their web site of common items that they use throughout the week. They are trying to start a program for siblings of kids with cancer as well as a retreat for the whole family. All of this will take additional funds. To find out more about Indian Summer Camp click here www.iscamp.org.
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