Saturday, April 03, 2010

cancer sucks...and it really sucks for kids

I have been working with the Kyla Miller Foundation (KMF) for over a year now designing jewelry for their shop.  KMF is a non profit 501 (c) 3 foundation that is raising funds for pediatric brain cancer research. That means kids with brain cancer. sucks but when you put a child into the equation it is a gross injustice. Children should grow up healthy- full of laughter and mischief and wonder and -LIFE!

Raising kids is a lot of hard work when they are healthy. Throw a life altering disease into the mix and I can not imagine how parents manage to deal with it all.

Back to the cancer.....
 There is an entire sub-culture surrounding cancer patients that most people are not aware of. Your life narrows down to white blood cell counts and visits to the clinic and watching for fevers and hospital stays and all this while trying to keep this child calm and positive. Breast cancer with it's pretty pink ribbons gets the spot light and most of the research dollars. Kyla's family wanted her to be a part of clinical trials for her cancer and they have a teaching hospital right there - but- research dollars for her type of brain cancer only went as far as a 9 hour drive one way. Put that on top of being sick with cancer and the treatment which is sometimes worse than the disease and - well, it isn't right. Those Cancer Treatment Centers of America ads make me so mad. It makes it sound like ALL cancer is curable. That chemo and radiation will take care of everything. Most brain cancers are inoperable because you have to be very careful not to compromise brain function. No brainer huh?

Anyway- I got invloved with KMF because my older sister is a  Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA. She was Kyla's doctor and now serves on the board of the foundation. I have always admired Melanie for her career choice- for using her talents to help people. Me? I'm just an artist...but not anymore.

After several phone calls and dozens of emails I have designed a set of jewelry- bracelet, earrings and pendant- incorporating the KMF logo- Heart of an Angel- the sterling silver heart in the center of the bracelet with pearls (the wings) on either side and  gold rings (the halo)- there are 10 purple crystals in the bracelet that symbolize Kyla's ten short years of life. KMF is selling these items as a way to raise funds for Pediatric Brain Cancer (PBC) research. You see, Kyla's family took her short life and death as their perosnal misison to fight PBC with their foundation,because,on a national level, funding for scientific and clinical research for brain cancer is considerably lower than other types, such as colon, prostate, breast, leukemia and lymphoma cancers. The funding that is available is consolidated to a handful of research institutes. This makes it difficult for children to participate in medical studies because of cost, location and other considerations. Simply put, more funding is needed, and the research capabilities need to be brought into our own local communities.  I am sure you have heard of Susan G. Komen right? And you associate her with breast cancer. I would like to see KMF become the Susan G. Komen of Pediatric Brain Cancer. Giving kids a fighting chance to become adults. Maybe it's just me but I find it to be totally wrong when a child dies. That it goes against nature. So, I am doing my part. I designed the jewelry and I personally make each piece. So do your part please. Spread the word. One person CAN make a difference.

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