Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Sep 6, 2022, 2:16 PM | Updated: Sep 7, 2022, 1:21 am
Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
All of that came to a screeching halt when his doctor said the four words that are every parent’s worst nightmare: Your child has cancer.
With little warning and no family history, the young cancer fighter and his family began navigating a new normal marked by needle pokes, chemotherapy treatments and anxiety that comes with the disease.
It was during this time that the Hyduchaks found Children’s Cancer Network, which inspires hope and healing for thousands of families during one of the most devasting times of their lives. Since 2004, the Chandler nonprofit and qualified charitable Arizona tax credit organization has served as a constant source of support to Arizona cancer families, filling in the gaps where hospitals and insurance companies leave off. CCN lends financial assistance to families in need, offers superhero and sibling therapy through dedicated counselors and promotes healthy lifestyles through physical and confidence-building programs. Through it all, CCN has created a tight-knit community of survivors, helping them be strong, smile often and dream big – from their initial diagnosis through treatment and beyond.
Every September, CCN joins with other childhood cancer organizations in Arizona, across the nation and throughout the world to celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to shine a light on the most overlooked and underfunded area of all cancer research.
“It’s also a time for us to celebrate the joys of survivorship,” said Patti Luttrell, CCN’s co-founder and executive director.
She would know. Luttrell and her husband got the diagnosis of their son, Jeff, when he was just 5 years old. For him, it was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cancer in children. As a former pediatric nurse, Luttrell had seen hundreds of kids and families facing tough odds, but she didn’t think lightning could strike her family. The “c” word never crossed her mind.
Other cancer families tell Luttrell the same thing, yet approximately 47 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every day. While the outlook for those diagnosed with the disease is promising – the survival rate is more than 85% – the vast majority of childhood cancer survivors live with the secondary effects of the disease, which are often the result of toxic cancer treatments.
These sobering statistics ignited a fire in the Luttrell family to become an advocate for her son and other kids waging a similar fight.
In 2004, Children’s Cancer Network was born out of this mission. Today, the organization distributes thousands of dollars in gas and grocery cards to help families get to and from cancer treatment and put food on the table, provides beds and other essentials to fulfill families’ basic needs, and offers a host of programs and events to help families stay healthy and happy. That includes games, dance and more at a new Let’s Move Center that promotes physical activity.
As in other areas of medicine, some exciting new cancer therapies are beginning to take hold. Along with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, immunotherapies that harness the body’s natural immune defenses to fight the disease are being heralded as the fourth pillar in cancer treatment.
“Even so, we must continue the fight, advocating for our children and putting an end to the disease,” Luttrell said.
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Children’s Cancer Network has teamed up with Valley Toyota Dealers on a Golden Ticket Raffle for a chance to win a 2023 Toyota Camry. Tickets are $20 each or three for $50. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit childcancernetwork.org. The winner will be selected on Oct. 31.