Sophia Andrade: Council recognizes Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: September 18, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Just weeks after the Santa Paula City Council proclaimed September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in honor of a local little girl, the child is again undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Sophia Andrade, 4, has been battling neuroblasoma for two years. Her mother Sandra (Pearson) and father James were at the September 3 council with Sophia, where the family was presented with the proclamation in Sophia’s honor.
Mayor Ralph Fernandez, the child’s great uncle, said each day 36 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer, and the average age is 6 years old; one out of five will not survive. The types of cancers that affect children are most often very different from those that affect adults, but like with adults, cancer “spares no socioeconomic, ethnic, racial or geographic class.”
Fernandez note pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children younger than 15 years old. Unlike adult cancers that often can be linked to lifestyle, the causes of most pediatric cancers are largely unknown and two-thirds of childhood cancer patients will develop long-lasting chronic conditions resulting from treatment.
Fernandez noted, “Childhood cancer rates have been rising for the past few decades, and approximately 11,630 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013. In the last 25 years, only two drugs have been specifically developed for children’s cancer.”
Although only about three percent of funds raised for the National Cancer Institute go directly to pediatric cancer research, Fernandez said such funding has steadily declined since 2003, leaving childhood cancer “vastly and consistently under-funded.”
Sandra Andrade described the fears and hopes of parents whose children have cancer, the rollercoaster of treatment and diagnosis, remission and relapse: “So we put our faith in our children’s strength, the doctors and nurses, our prayers, the prayers of others and God.... We are so grateful that we live here in Santa Paula,” where since Sophia’s diagnosis Andrade said the community “has embraced and supported us with a massive turnout at a blood drive in Sophia’s honor, fundraisers by Familia Diaz, Tisa’s Hair Salon, and Mountain View Golf Course,” along with “many prayers and the outpouring of love by the residents of this fine city.”
Andrade noted, “Sophia is not the only Santa Paula Warrior” battling childhood cancer; football player Keshaun Mata and Isaiah Maynard are two who have been battling childhood cancer. Tony “Tiger” Servin-Soltero, a 4th grade McKevett School student, received his angel’s wings in April 2012.
“As parents we go out and make a lot of noise” to bring awareness to childhood cancer, an effort Andrade said others can make by donating cash, art supplies, gift cards and toys to hospitals treating childhood cancer patients and donating blood or platelets because the need is always great. People can also support organizations and programs that benefit those with childhood cancer - from Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Teddy Bear Foundation to the Talbert Family Foundation.