“Your child has cancer.” // How to play an active role in the future.

Take a moment and imagine your life. For most of us it consists of slight ups and downs, then some bigger peaks and valleys here and there but for the most part it just rolls on slightly ebbing and flowing. Then somewhere along this swaying road of our lives your doctor says these words: “your child has cancer.” Yup, your world just got turned upside down, you only wish those bad days you characterized in the past could come back. Think of that feeling, take a moment…

September is Childhood cancer awareness month and its designated color is Gold. Many of you lake country moms know this as you helped turn Miller Park gold just a few weeks ago, and if you weren’t there, check out the Journal Sentinel’s video below.

This first paragraph was not to scare you, but to “snap” you into what reality can feel like for a few seconds for families all across the world on a daily basis.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Sarah Bartosz who is the President of Gold In September (G9), an incredible nonprofit that raises funds for pediatric cancer. Sarah has been diligently raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer after the loss of her son Jack in 2012. Jack fought a long and hard battle for over 6 years with Neuroblastoma. Tragically, she also lost her husband John in 2016. John passed away due to the long term effects of chemotherapy and radiation that he underwent in his early 20s to save his life. He was just 47.

These devastating losses are more than any family should ever have to endure, but more and more children are being diagnosed with cancer, and the funds for developing new and better treatments just aren’t there.

Sarah, along with her daughter and Jack’s twin, Annie started G9 in late 2012 after Jack’s passing. Annie could not believe how unaware people were about September being the month for childhood cancer.

photos used with permission from Bartosz family

In speaking with Sarah, I learned just how little funding goes towards pediatric cancer. The National Cancer Institute provides only 4% of their funds to pediatric cancer, and less than 8% is provided by the private sector. This leaves 85%-90% to be raised by philanthropy, which are non-profits like G9. Usually these non-profits are started by families that are directly impacted by cancer, and this is not enough. We all need to take an active role to raise funds and awareness. Sarah likens it to an insurance policy; G9 is there, raising funds, helping advance research and treatment, should you ever hear the devastating news that Sarah did years ago.

Cancer is scary, I get it. We don’t always want to think about it. But so many feel alone when they find themselves in Sarah’s shoes, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Listening to Sarah’s story touched my heart in so many ways. The strength that she and Annie show on a daily basis is truly incredible. I know after we met, I went home and hugged my kids a little tighter, and thought, what can I do to help so others do not have to feel the pain that she does every day?

photo used with permission from Bartosz family

So I challenge you, visit the website, do your own research and then take an active role in protecting the future of our children. A little goes such a long way, and our kids needs us. It is as simple as donating the spare change you find in your house, getting your employer or children’s school involved, and making sure we don’t stop raising awareness when September is over. This needs to be a year round effort. In the last 20 years, just two new cancer drugs have come to market for children, and the current treatments are so harsh on children’s tiny bodies that they are left with lasting side effects that significantly impacts their quality of life. The standard of care needs to be improved, and as I mentioned above, public and private funding just doesn’t cut out. This is not acceptable. Our kids deserve more, the families impacted deserve more and we truly can make a difference.

I’d like to close by thanking Sarah, Annie and the team at G9; 1.2 million dollars was raised during the 2016-2017 period. Thank you for helping fund early phase trials! Now, let us all help G9 continue to fight the battle against Childhood cancer!


photo used with permission from Bartosz family


Kara Plowman
I’m a native Bostonian living the American dream in the Midwest. I’m a wife to Andy, Mom to Jackson, Emmy and our pug pup Bo, and a reality TV junkie. When I’m not working or spending time with family you will find me getting my nails done, shopping, cooking/ baking or sending memes to my besties. I love all things fashion, beauty and interior design! I rely heavily on Instagram for my inspiration. I have fallen in love with the Lake Country area and all it has to offer and am thrilled to be a contributor at the Lake  Country Mom! // Follow on Instagram

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