Updated: Jul 26
Fact: The average age for a child to be diagnosed with cancer is 8 years old.
Eight years old? This is an age that is distinctive for a human body in its rate of growth and development. Children's bones are growing, brains developing, hormones are regulating muscle mass & blood glucose, to name a few of the automatic physiologic processes happening in their bodies to keep them healthy, growing and developing. Intuitively, if age eight is the average time of developing cancer, age eight must also be an age of vulnerability of the child's developing systems. A child this age is completely dependent on his parents and health system for healthy development into adulthood. All children deserve the opportunity to lead healthy long lives. All children deserve to be protected from cancer just as they are protected against pneumonia, chicken pox, small pox, whooping cough, HPV, covid, etc.
Cancer is the number one disease a child dies from and yet little is known about the causes. In fact very little clinical data or research existed in the past on childhood cancers. How can we deeply understand the basics of childhood cancers without clinical data and research? Only recently do registries exist that include childhood cancers, which can also differ from adult cancers with the same name. We can read that exposure to pesticides or radiation can cause cancer, but can a healthy 8 year old have already endured excessive or enough exposure to cause cancer? Was it the 3 X-rays he had when he was 5 years old after breaking his foot, then femur? Was it the organic or non organic produce he ate so much of? He was so healthy, so active, so strong, so funny, so smart, so compassionate, so intellectual, so articulate.
What if we knew, understood and expected the vulnerable phases in child's development and we were able to vaccinate or supplement? Much like when a woman anticipates starting a family she will take pre-natal vitamins knowing that folic acid will help prevent neural tube defects or when I start to feel cold symptoms I take a zinc supplement to help lessen the duration of the cold. We live in a country that has been fortifying our food since the 1920's to prevent nutrition-related illnesses. The US government instituted supplementing foods with vitamins and nutrients to help prevent or lower the risk of rickets or such defects as cleft palate, which are much more common in other countries because of the measures we take in our country. In today's age of high biotech progress, we know so much about so many things and so why don't we know about the number one killer of children? Does it have to reach a higher incidence than 16,000 children a year? Unfortunately, the number of children getting cancer is increasing each year.
Is there a possibility that around age 8, children are no longer eating as much of those fortified foods and may need a blood test to determine their own deficiencies? Is there a common virus school age children get that could be causing leukemia in some children that also have some other deficiency? Do healthy children need periodic bloodwork?
How does a healthy child get cancer?
We don't know why or how because more research money is spent on other aspects of the wide spectrum of cancer as a whole. Deep discovery begins with asking the right questions. Primary prevention of childhood cancer is only a possibility if we make it one. This is KOASTRONG's goal.
Lisa Pagán, Koa's mom
"I dwell in possibility" - Emily Dickinson