Most people don’t know it but September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Mary Beth Kiser knows it because she has lived it every month since last November when her 3-year-old son Dylan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Kiser has done whatever she could to raise awareness and that includes she and her friend, Amy Wilson, decorating a float for the Raceland Homecoming Parade on Thursday night.
“They passed out purple ribbons for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month at one game and I was talking to a couple of the moms that most people don’t realize September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,” Kiser said. “Cancer is such a devastating disease.”
More than 250 children per day die from some type of cancer, according to national statistics.
“When you compare that to how many women die from breast cancer it’s probably a pretty small number,” Kiser said. “But any cancer is so difficult.”
She said her son, Dylan, has a good prognosis, for which she is thankful. “If a child was going to have cancer of any sort, which nobody wants, this is the type you would want to have.”
Dylan has a 95 percent survival rates although many children suffer from secondary problems due to the chemotheraphy. So far, she said, her son hasn’t endured any of that either.
“We’re fortunate but I want to make people aware (of childhood cancer),” she said.
Kiser enlisted her friend to help construct a football- and Childhood Cancer Awareness-themed float for the parade. It’s complete with 80 different colored balloons, representing the different types of childhood cancer.
“We started working on it last week,” Wilson said. “We’ve put in a lot of work and spent some money on it.”
The float would win the prize for the cutest if there was a competition, Kiser said. “No way anybody’s is going to be better than ours.”
Wilson and Kiser are best friends and she’s proud of hwo the family has handled Dylan’s cancer. Dylan also has a 9-year-old brother, Logan.
“Our community knows about Dylan and he’s doing great but we’re trying to remind them that he still has cancer and so do a lot of other children,” Wilson said.
Kiser said when a parent has a child with cancer, “you have no other choice but to do some research. You kind of learn as you go. It’s a scary process.”
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.