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Accio! Gives Back: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

One of our core principals at Accio! is that we are for people over profit. With that in mind, we are constantly looking for ways to use our company’s success to help others, from donating proceeds to hurricane relief and immigrant legal aid, to supporting charities with our Leaky Con raffles, to giving back to local charity events like the annual De-Feet Cancer trail run, spearheaded by longtime subscriber and childhood cancer advocate Danny Loental.

It was through our friendship with Danny, a pediatric oncology nurse, that we learned that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, our local children’s hospital diagnoses and treats hundreds of kids who are battling many different kinds of cancers. Each day, Danny goes to work to treat these children and help them and their families through some of the hardest days of their lives:

Childhood Cancer: The Reality

“You may have seen the commercials. You might see bald kids looking brave and saying something inspiring for these commercials, or sitting in bed snuggling their parent while a Sarah Mclachlan song plays…or maybe that’s the ASPCA. Whatever. It tugs at your heartstrings, and for good reason.

But I wish more people could see the real face of childhood cancer. We project the role of “warrior” or “hero” onto children because it is a difficult journey and because it is a fight. But it’s not a fight any child is prepared for nor should ever have to face.

Here’s the truth. Every child diagnosed with cancer suffers. Every child cries. The medicines taste gross. Accessing ports hurts. MRIs are loud and scary. Central line dressing changes are traumatic. Lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirates are painful AND traumatic. We do our best to alleviate the pain and trauma of these things, but in the end, most children will hate the majority of the time they spend in treatment.

And what about the parents? I’ve seen families that receive a diagnosis with courage, deal with the shock and uncertainty with grace and patience, discover their “new normal” and face the challenge head on as a family. Some have gone on to become outspoken advocates for the cause, some have even gone so far as to found their own charities.

But I’ve also seen a cancer diagnosis completely destroy families, leave parents traumatized, leave siblings feeling isolated and abandoned. Children lose that primal instinct that their parents can protect them from anything and fix any problem. Sometimes families never recover from this ordeal.

We want to picture the bald kid with the brave face, stoically facing down this challenge. But I want you to take a moment and picture your child. Or maybe your best friend’s child. Picture them crying every time the nurse comes in to give them yucky medicine. Picture them screaming for help when we come in to re-access their port or change their dressing. Their skin is already raw so the antiseptic stings, they can’t hold still so we have to hold them down to keep the site sterile, and they just can’t understand why any of this has to happen, or why mommy and daddy won’t just make us stop.

This is the everyday reality faced by thousands of families and children diagnosed with cancer every year.”

How We’re Helping

Trying to imagine what it would have been like to go through these treatments as a child made us wonder… what else could we do to help? What comfort could we give these kids when they’re facing so much pain and confusion and trauma?

The answer was right next to us on the bookshelf.

I think nearly every fan has their “Harry Potter Story,” about how the books helped them get through a difficult time in their lives. Maybe they drew strength from the example of one of their favorite characters, or they just found some escape and solace in coming back to Hogwarts, where they were surrounded by the familiarity of the magical world.

We wanted to make sure that these stories were available to the children at our local hospital, to allow them the opportunity to find that same strength and comfort through these stories, so we contacted the hospital to find out more about making a donation.

Tomorrow morning, two full sets of the books and a complete set of the movies will be making their way to the hospital, where patients will be able to access them whenever they need a little magic in their lives to get them through.

We know the magic of the wizarding world can’t provide them with a cure. (That’s what our monetary donations are for, after all, and those are vital, too!) But we hope that they will help in some small way to make the world a little brighter and bring hope to some kids who need it the most.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

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