National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Kerry Corum

Childhood cancer remains rare in the United States, with about 12,000 cases diagnosed each year.

Still, it turns families upside down, as many in the Tri-State have found out.

And they're finding each other in a special group that tries to raise awareness.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. It wasn't recognized in Evansville until last year, when a group of parents got together to honor the children they'd lost, and cheer on the ones still fighting.

This year, they want to continue this new tradition.

It's a club no one wants to have to join, but these two mothers say they formed it out of necessity. Cancer is striking Tri-State children and, in some cases, killing them.

Are there more cases here than in other places, or does it just seem like it?

Karen Paulson says, "Finding that answer is not as easy as we would like. A lot of people if you speak to them one on one will say it seems that every one in every family is touched by cancer. If you speak with registrars, they tend to not agree with that so much."

That's something Karen is determined to find out, as president of the local Childhood Cancer Awareness league.

Her son John was diagnosed with lymphoma at age seven. Two years later, he's responding well to treatment.

Co-founder of the group, Traci Harris, isn't so lucky. Her son Dylan had the rare alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, and died at age four.

Traci says, "I know now that 20 years from now, it's still going to hurt. It's not ever going to go away, because he was such a big part of my life."

Traci is starting up a Fellowship Bereavement group, for other parents who've lost a child to cancer.

She says, "For people to be able to look at you and just understand what you're going through without even saying a word."

Sign-ups for the group will be at the Gold Ribbon Festival.

At last year's event, Evansville Mayor Russ Lloyd proclaimed it Childhood Cancer Awareness Days. This year, the Mayor of Boonville will do the same.

That's the idea, to get people thinking about the smallest of cancer victims, and to provide support for them.

Karen says, "We want to be able to be a shoulder to lean on for families. We want to be able to provide answers, such as when I was looking for answers, and be able to find someone who's walked this walk."

A walk no one wants to take, at least not alone.

The second annual Gold Ribbon Festival is Sunday, September 7th, at the SWIRCA Activities Center in Evansville, at 2:00 pm.

It will start with a ceremony to honor young cancer patients.

Later, there will be an information and vendor fair, activities for the kids, refreshments and an auto show.

The event is free, and everyone is reminded to wear a gold ribbon throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September.

For more information, call 457-4608, or email Karen Paulson at