by Trish Adkins
A million miles may seem like a far distance—but families battling childhood cancer would go a million miles and more for cures for their children.
Every September during Childhood Cancer Awareness month, people everywhere join Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Alex’s Million Mile (AMM). AMM is the largest childhood cancer awareness challenge that funds critical, innovative research. Childhood cancer families help lead the charge by forming teams, raising awareness, logging miles and fundraising.
Even though childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children, research is critically underfunded as compared to adult cancer research. AMM is a chance to change that fact and to help continue Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s mission of finding cures and safer treatments for all children.
There are a million reasons why everyone should join the fight against childhood cancer. Below, you can meet four very important reasons why you should join AMM this September:
Three-year-old Tillery was diagnosed at 15 months old with a brain tumor.
She’s endured 14 surgeries and 64 doses of chemotherapy. Tillery is currently off treatment, but her entire tumor could not be removed. She will have treatment on and off her entire life.
Treatment took her family six hours from home to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. While waiting for a room at the Ronald McDonald House, ALSF’s Travel for Care program paid for the family’s hotel nights. One of those nights, the family thought about going home but opted to stay because of ALSF’s support. It was that night that Tillery had a major medical emergency. She had to be rushed to the ER for a very serious blood clot in her brain.
“That hotel room saved our daughter. Being that close to the hospital made a huge difference in her life,” said Alana, Tillery’s mom.
Her family began fundraising for ALSF while she was in treatment by holding lemonade stands and hosting a 5k. This September, Tillery’s 6-year-old brother Luke is joining Alex’s Million Mile and aiming to rack up 10 miles. Her entire family is going the distance too.
“We are all a small drop in the mile bucket. But when we add them all up, they will make something really impressive,“ said Alana.
About one year ago, 13-year-old Julianna developed a serious fungal infection that attacked her brain. She was already battling acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
Her breathing became worse. Her medical team suggested one last bone marrow aspiration and MRI. Everyone expected Julianna to go home on hospice. But then the test results came back and Julianna’s cancer was actually in remission and the fungal infection showed signs of healing. After three weeks of recovery, Julianna started chemotherapy to prepare for a bone marrow transplant. She spent six months in the hospital and became wheelchair bound.
Now, 13 months after her diagnosis Juliana is back in school and is able to walk a mile on her own without stopping. This September, Julianna, her SuperSib Kaydee and her mother Elizabeth will log 100 miles during Alex’s Million Mile.
When Leo was just 4 years old, his world completely turned upside down.
In a matter of minutes, Leo went from a healthy preschooler to a childhood cancer warrior battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Leo began treatment within 12 hours of his diagnosis. On day 29 of treatment, Leo went into remission and moved from the induction stage of treatment to frontline treatment. His next step will be three years of maintenance chemotherapy.
His family and friends formed #LeoStrong to support Alex’s Million Mile this year and to continue to support childhood cancer research. His mom, Stephanie, knows that childhood cancer research is underfunded and she also knows that every donation and every mile counts towards cures.
“Everything makes a difference and because of all the people who decided to do this before me, I know my child will beat this,” said Stephanie.
On July 24, 2014, Noah was just a regular 14-year-old.
On July 25, everything changed. Noah was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer that presented itself wrapped around Noah’s cervical spine. He endured harsh chemotherapy and a rigorous radiation schedule which included treatment on Christmas morning. In March 2015, scans showed that the cancer metastasized to Noah’s lungs. There were no more options and Noah died on April 9, 2015.
Noah’s mother Tanya is keeping Noah’s fight and legacy alive. In September, Tanya, together with her family and friends, will join Alex’s Million Mile with the aim of making critical improvements to childhood cancer treatment.
“No child is exempt from the possibility of cancer. Tomorrow it could be a child you care about. When Noah was diagnosed I had no idea just how common childhood cancer is. We have to make improvements. By supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand, you support all children and the hope for a cure,” said Tanya.
Be Bold & Go Gold this September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Turn awareness into action, by joining Alex’s Million Mile, the largest childhood cancer awareness challenge that funds researchers so they can find better treatments and more cures for kids battling cancer. Sign up to start your own Alex’s Million Mile team, or join an existing team, raise awareness and help us help kids fight cancer.