Not many people will know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, nor that gold is the official colour.
A campaign, started in September 2012 in the US by Tony Stoddard, who lost his five-year-old son to cancer, is hoping to change all that.
The ‘Light It Up Gold’ campaign will see families, landmarks and institutions across the globe go gold for childhood cancer. Many irish families will take part, including the family of three-year-old Max Wenman.
In July 2012, just two weeks after his second birthday, Max was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.
Speaking to the Leader, Max’s mother Cathy Bermingham explains that a three centimetre tumor was discovered on the toddler’s adrenal gland, which was removed before he began a rigorous treatment regime which was to last 14 months. There is no known cure for neuroblastoma, and so Max underwent a trial in order to combat the disease.
For 80 days, Max underwent chemotherapy for two days out of every 10 in St John’s Ward, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. Shortly after, Max’s stem cells were harvested and he was given a high dose of chemo before his stem cells were replaced. The treatment often left Max unwell, and he regularly had to go to the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar. Max also suffered a collapsed lung and liver complications, prolonging the toddler’s recovery.
This year alone, Max has undergone 15 sessions of radiotherapy, before a treatment which saw Max admitted into hospital to receive antibodies. Now almost finished the last stage of the trial, Max, his mother Cathy, his father Roy and his five siblings are waiting patiently for September 12, when Max will be assessed to see if the trial was indeed successful. “He’s doing good and we’re all really proud of how he’s coped,” Cathy says of her brave son.
Along with raising awareness, the Light It Up Gold campaign is aiming to raise funds for the St John’s Ward, which, Cathy admits, is badly needed. Those involved are hoping for a modern ward, to accomodate 1,200 children, just like Max, who are treated there every year. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Lightitupgold.