CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was surrounded by children battling cancer Thursday as he signed an executive order recognizing Sept. as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
One of the kids was 8-year-old Bella Masters of West Hamlin. She was diagnosed with bone cancer back in May. But she and her family made the trip to the state capitol to attend the event. Her mom, Jennifer Masters, said the month is dedicated to survival.
“It’s about getting support and awareness out there about childhood cancer so that we can find a cure,” she explained.
Despite losing most of her hair and going through chemo, Masters stressed Bella is just a regular little girl who loves to ride her bike and color pictures. She said no parent should have to watch their child suffer through such a deadly disease.
“Kids shouldn’t be fighting cancer,” said Masters. “They should be happy and being kids, not laying in a hospital bed.”
Even though Bella faces surgery next week she was all smiles and her prognosis is good.
Dr. Allen Chauvenet, a pediatrician specializing in Hematology-Oncology and professor at WVU- Charleston, explained the number of deaths due to childhood cancer is dropping.
“We have drastically reduced the deaths because we have made enormous progress. Eighty-plus percent of children diagnosed with cancer now are cured,” he said
But he wanted to remind people there are the another 20 percent who don’t live to be adults.
“[We need] to just raise awareness and make people know what resources are available in their local community,” said Chauvenet.
Approximately 50 children in West Virginia are diagnosed with cancer each year.