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Gold is the New Pink

  • Gold ribbon symbol of childhood cancer awareness
  • Ethen Richardson logo
  • Ethen Richardson and his mom, Brandy.

Gold is the New Pink

Gold Is The New Pink

Everyone’s heart melts when they see the St. Jude Hospital commercials on television – the many children going through treatments for cancer is quite sobering. It is unimaginable that someone so young and innocent should have to endure such pain, sickness and weakness, and the fears that go along with it.

Anyone who hasn’t been close to a child who is fighting cancer may not realize what all the entire family goes through -- how even though their medical bills may be covered, so many other expenses are involved. How missing time from work to stay at the hospital or care for a sick child means a smaller paycheck, but the routine bills of life continue to roll in and accumulate. How siblings of the sick one not only are worried and fearful for their sibling, but they have to forego typical childhood events such as birthday parties and activities because there is always a doctor’s appointment or a treatment scheduled.

Also, not many people are aware that adult cancers and research are well funded, but childhood cancers are not. In fact, the treatments and medicines for childhood cancers are the same ones used for adults, and were developed decades ago. Many times, even though the child may survive the cancer, the side effects of the treatments linger for a lifetime.

That is why September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and gold ribbons and the gold color have become the Childhood Cancer Research Funds’ worldwide campaign.

“Everybody knows that the pink ribbon is; now we want them to know what the gold ribbon is,” said Staci Smith, chairman of The Ethen Richardson Foundation.

Why awareness is needed

More children die of childhood cancer than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined, according to the ERF website. One in 330 children develops cancer before age 19, and 1 in 5 of those dies.

Of the National Cancer Institute’s budget of $4.6 billion, 12% goes to breast cancer research, 7% to prostate cancer, and less than 3% to all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined.

“The kids get the pennies that are left; but the kids are our future, yet they don’t get the research money,” Sherri Lundy is quoted saying in a September 2015 article in The Eatonton Messenger newspaper. At the time, her 5-year-old daughter, Brylie, was in the midst of aggressive treatments for bone cancer. The Lundy’s and other parents they met at the hospitals were “becoming the squeaky wheel” to change that, she said. (2019 update – Brylie is cancer-free now, and happily attending school at Gatewood Schools in Eatonton.)

The Ethen Richardson Foundation

Staci Smith became a squeaky wheel after losing her 8-year-old nephew, Ethen, to an aggressive, inoperable brainstem cancer in May 2014. The family started the foundation in his name a few months later.

Ethen’s father, Todd, (Smith’s brother) played football at Gatewood School in Eatonton in 1987. Although Todd Richardson’s job transferred his family to South Carolina a few years ago, Ethen’s paternal family, including grandparents, Syble and Homer Richardson, great-grandmother Dora Brock, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, all live in Putnam County.

Ethen’s mother, Brandy, is a graduate of Greene County High School; his maternal grandparents Sherrer and Van Herrin, and aunts, uncles and cousins all live in Greene County.

Overwhelmed by the needs of the family, what they’d learned and the help they received from others throughout the cancer battle, the Richardson’s started the foundation to help others going through the same crisis.

It benefits parents who have to take days, weeks and months off work, travel back and forth to big cities with hospitals, find meals and lodging while there, find care for their other children, and still somehow pay bills at home.

“We help them in the ‘now’ areas,” Smith said. “The cure is far out; but these families need help now. The last thing they need to worry about while they are at the hospital with their child is how to pay the electric bill, or if their car is about to be repossessed.”

For information, visit www.ethenrichardson.org or visit the Ethen Richardson Foundation Facebook page.

For the family’s story of Ethen’s battle with the brain tumor and photos of Ethen, visit http://ethenrichardson.org/ethens-story/?fbclid=IwAR3f4lm5hlEcFYQW-HKOjOw3vhqyFJM6aPRSK0uE6g-U5pH_Gf6Uoh617Sg.

Story by Lynn Hobbs, Lakelife editor, taken from an file article from The Eatonton Messenger, also by Lynn Hobbs