Mayor proclaims September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Staunton

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 10:46 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Many across the United States recognized the month of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Last week, Mayor Andrea Oakes proclaimed the same in the city of Staunton at their city council meeting.

“It’s a matter of being aware that childhood cancer is a real thing, and it’s a lot more common than people realize. Your next-door neighbor has probably dealt with it if you haven’t,” she said.

The proclamation stated “each year more than 15,000 children and adolescents under the age of 19 in the United States, and more than 400,000 children globally, are diagnosed with cancer.”

It also noted that 1,700 children die from it. Mayor Oakes said that number is way too high.

“It’s horrific. It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “It’s something that is so devastating for a child to have to go through such a horrific disease.”

Mayor Oakes also criticized the federal government for the lack of resources put into pediatric cancer research.

“Out of all cancer research funding, only 4% is put towards childhood cancer research funding,” she said. “That is despicable. In Staunton, we actually have this as one of our legislative proposals that we send to the General Assembly asking the Virginia General Assembly to lobby the federal government to put more towards childhood cancer awareness funding ”

She said 4% is an “embarrassment to our country.”

She also criticized the limited medication available.

“We’re talking about innocent children who do not understand,” Mayor Oakes said. “When you have only two drugs that have been administered to children and approved by the FDA, that’s wrong. When children are being given the same type of treatment that adults were given back in the 1960′s, again... wrong. We have to do better.”

She credits Kendrick Kier with “trying to keep childhood cancer at the forefront” of minds year round but especially in September. The hope is that the Staunton community will use this month to support and give direction to families dealing with the disease.

Starting next Friday, trees on Statler Blvd in Staunton will be decorated with gold ribbons in remembrance. They will be dressed for a week.

Some people in the city are replacing their porch light bulbs with yellow ones to show support.