Awareness: November, 2015

Note: For past issues of our MIRACLE Awareness pages and topics, visit our archives.

Throughout the year, government agencies and private organizations emphasize a list of medical conditions and safety awareness observances. We have probably missed some campaigns, and nothing we discuss here is comprehensive. What we attempt to do every month is focus on one or two safety or health observances, and then list the other events we found along with hyperlinks to the associated web pages.

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The organization of this page falls into three main areas. The first area addresses month-long events and highlights one cause with a short article on its significance. Immediately following that discussion, a bulleted list allows you to scan through the other month-long events for more information. The second area of this page focuses on week-long events and contains a shorter discussion on one event along with a table of the other events in that category. The final section lists day-long events in a table and provides links to the relevant web pages.

The information on this page is dynamic. It changes every month and potentially during the weeks and days between. Consequently, we encourage you to come back often and see what's new.

Awareness Campaigns this Month

November is here and it is full of health and safety awareness campaigns. Though we decided to focus on Marrow Awareness Month, there are plenty of other causes that deserve mention. For example, November is also National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. It is difficult to envision children in homeless situations, but this is a growing problem in the United States and elsewhere. Homeless children face more risks to their personal safety and health, and they are much less likely to get medical attention when they need it. Along the same lines, we encourage you to think about Runaway Prevention Month. Running away is closely linked to youth homelessness, but as you can imagine, the story behind these problems is complex.

Marrow Awareness Month

The Internet is full of information about bone marrow, but few of these references discuss Marrow Awareness Month in detail. Most websites that even mention this observance only do so in passing. We think this cause deserves more attention, specifically as it relates to children. Consequently, we are treating bone marrow awareness as our highlighted observance this month.

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Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue in bone cavities that generates stem cells throughout our lives. These stem cells include red blood cells for carrying oxygen, white blood cells for fighting disease, and platelets for clotting. A bone marrow condition not only reduces quality of life, but comes with potentially lethal consequences. Leukemia and lymphoma are associated with bone marrow, and both conditions can take several forms. According to the American Cancer Society, Leukemia is a leading childhood cancer:

Leukemias, which are cancers of the bone marrow and blood, are the most common childhood cancers. They account for about 30% of all cancers in children. The most common types in children are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). These leukemias can cause bone and joint pain, fatigue, weakness, pale skin, bleeding or bruising, fever, weight loss, and other symptoms.1

Lymphomas account for a smaller percentage of childhood cancers: about 3% for Hodgkin Lymphoma and 5% for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.2 The good news is that lymphomas are not particularly wide-spread in small children, and they respond well to early, aggressive treatment. Unfortunately, older children and adults may be more vulnerable.

Hopefully your child will never have to worry about a bone marrow condition or disease, but you will not be alone if you do. One resource is the Donating Marrow web page of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). This web page describes the bone marrow donation program and provides a significant amount of helpful information and resources.

Another resource is Be the Match. This website supports bone marrow patients, donors, and advocates. If you are a patient, you can explore information about your disease, find out how to sign up for a transplant, and discover other helpful resources. If you want to give, you can donate financial resources or bone marrow. If you want to become a bone marrow advocate, you can find out how to host a donor drive, shop for the cause, and write to lawmakers on behalf of bone marrow patients.

Throughout November, you can make your family and friends more aware of bone marrow conditions. You can start by pointing them to the web pages we identified here. You can give financially to your favorite bone marrow charity. Finally, you can use information from this and other websites to write to elected officials and corporations. Help us make November count for marrow awareness.

References

1(01/13/2015). What are the most common types of childhood cancers? American Cancer Society. Retrieved on October 28, 2015, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerinchildren/detailedguide/cancer-in-children-types-of-childhood-cancers.

2Ibid.

Other Health Awareness Campaigns this Month

Marrow Awareness is only one of several health and safety campaigns this month. Others include the following safety and health issues:

Awareness Campaigns by Week

November may seem like a short month, but that doesn't stop people from thinking and planning big. Every week this month, you can find a safety or health observance.

Our featured weekly cause for November is National Diabetes Education Week. Historically, a relatively smaller number of children suffered from type 1 or juvenile diabetes: a congenital condition, about which the exact causes remain uncertain. In one sense we can be thankful for the relatively low numbers of children affected by this condition, but the lack of commonality may also complicate the efforts of those who suffer to find adequate support. We can help by promoting more research on the causes and cures of type 1 diabetes.

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Today's children are becoming victims of diabetes in greater numbers, but this problem is related to type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, which may be preventable and traditionally did not show up during one's youth. For children, some of the keys for controlling this condition may include preventive measures such as regular medical checkups and a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and physical activity.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators provides the resources you need to educate yourself and others on diabetes. For example you can find diabetes tip sheets and handouts for eating healthy, remaining active, taking insulin injections, and more.

Another resource is the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA provides a comprehensive set of resources for living with diabetes, preventing it in children, and advocacy. If you want another resource, visit the Medline Plus at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and read their information on Diabetes in Children and Teens. Table 1 lists the week-long campaigns recognized during the remainder of this month:

 

Week Observance or campaign
Table 1: Health and Safety Awareness Campaigns by Week
1-7 National Diabetes Education Week
1-8 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (See also DrowsyDriving.org.)
2-6 Patient Blood Management Awareness Week
Allied Health Professions Week
23-29 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Awareness Week

Awareness Campaigns by Day

With Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow, November is full of family activities. As a result, we would like to highlight three special days that relate to children's health: World Kindness Day, World Prematurity Awareness Day, and National Family Health History Day.

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Table 2 lists the daily campaigns recognized during the remainder of this month:

Day Observance or campaign
Table 2: Health and Safety Awareness Campaigns by day
2 Lung Cancer Walk for Hope
3 Purple Proud Day
7 2015 Stomach Cancer Awareness Walk
8 NYC Kidney Walk (Foley Square, New York City, NY)
13 World Kindness Day
Pancreatic Awareness Day
14 World Diabetes Day (Worldwide)
17 World Prematurity Awareness Day
19 National Pulmonary Hypertension Advocacy Day
Great American Smokeout
22 International Survivors of Suicide Day
26 National Family Health History Day
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