Whenever I tell people what i do (paediatric oncologist/cancer specialist), the reaction is “wow that must be so hard and so sad”.
Yes, it can be. Sometimes the hardest job in the world – to tell someone “your child has cancer”. Or to say “the cancer has come back”.
But it’s also the most rewarding job in the world. When i see kids coming back year after year, happy and healthy, doing all the stuff that kids are supposed to do, it’s fantastic. Because the numbers tell us that 82% of Canadian kids with cancer are cured. Oh – and “cured” really does mean cured. In that the cancer will not come back. Ever. That’s the success story over the last 50 years. We have made some massive strides. To the extent that some cancers can almost be guaranteed to be cured. It may still be really hard work for everyone, and tough on the kids, but the end result is still cure. And that means that these kids go to school, graduate, go onto college and university, or get a trade and a job, or start a business, or go travelling. Then start families, have careers and have happy and productive lives.
That’s the reality of today’s cancer treatments. That’s what investment in research and cancer care means. It’s been tough and gruelling hard work for everyone, but we are up there.
There’s more to it than that – sometimes there are long term side effects for survivors, and remember that 82% cure also means 18% not cured. But the silver lining is that there is hope beyond cancer. That’s what we are aiming for. That’s what we shoot for everytime we start out on this journey.
Remember – cancer can be cured. And it WILL be cured – for everyone.