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Melody Moore will tell you that before her 11-year-old son Dawson fought and succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer, she and her husband, Todd, were not aware of the thousands of children diagnosed with some form of childhood cancer annually.
But now they are painfully aware, and are determined to honor their son’s life by drawing attention to the disease and advocating for increased funding for childhood cancer research.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and yellow or gold are the colors identified to bring awareness to the issue. Melody said it has been her family’s desire to promote childhood cancer awareness since Dawson’s death in April. Dawson was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma — a cancer which grows in the middle portion of the brain steam — in July 2012. Despite extensive radiation and chemotherapy, Dawson died April 4. It is a pain that Melody said she wants no other family to have to endure.
“I feel like by being able to do this, we’re not only honor ing him but hopefully some day it will help save another child and another family so that they don’t have to go through this,” Melody said.
And Melody said many people in the community have rallied around the cause.
Dawson’s younger brother, Mason, has made yellow ribbon pins and passed them out to raise awareness. Local businesses and sports teams, including the Spencer County Stallions and the high school football team, are helping spread childhood cancer awareness by wearing or displaying gold or yellow ribbons.
Local florist Tammy Owen was especially touched by Dawson’s story and is collecting Pennies for a Cure, which will go toward childhood cancer research. Owen has also made yellow ribbons and sold yellow childhood cancer awareness magnets. Owen said she learned of Dawson’s story through Facebook and has become close friends with the Moore family.
“I tried to go up once a week just to visit with (Dawson) a few minutes,” Owen said. “I just fell in love with him. I never gave a thought about childhood cancer until I met him and he kind of changed my thinking about things and that’s where I feel like I want to help.”
Owen said since learning of Dawson’s story, she has learned of numerous other families in the community and beyond who’ve been touched by childhood cancer. She is hoping those pennies keep rolling in to her florist on Main Street.
“My goal was to try and get a five gallon bucket of pennies and I’m probably over half way there,” she said.
Melody said she is interested in promoting awareness of all types of childhood cancer, and that she would like to see more research done in the field.
“One of the things that we were told when he was first diagnosed was that 90 percent of funds raised are for adult research,” she said. “You can’t expect to find a cure and find research if people aren’t aware.”
Melody said she would like for the public to see gold ribbons and think of childhood cancer awareness the same way people equate pink ribbons with breast cancer awareness. While Melody said she supported breast cancer research, childhood cancer research needs increased visibility.
“Breast cancer is so highly advertised. We’d like to eventually see yellow become pink,” Melody said.
“Everybody knows what the pink ribbons are for, but nobody knows what the gold is,” Owen said. “That’s kind of our goal, (we) just want people to know what the gold stands for.”
Melody said one of her family’s biggest goals is to start a scholarship foundation in memory of Dawson, as well as create a foundation in Dawson’s name that can support other families touched by childhood cancer. She said the family’s hope is that funds can be raised and a scholarship presented to a student in the class of 2020, which is the year Dawson would have graduated high school.
Melody said its time to get serious about childhood cancer awareness in Spencer County.
“We have a 10-year-old son who lost his brother,” she said, noting the seriousness of the issue. “Our ultimate goal is just to bring awareness to childhood cancer in general. It’s time to get it out bigger, it’s time to go there, so we can continue to have that support so that when another family goes through it, Taylorsville’s going to back them.”
Some of the current community efforts to benefit childhood cancer research and awareness include the pennies for a cure effort at Creekside Florist on Main Street, and yellow ribbon sales underway at Country Mart. Anyone wishing to support the effort can stop by Creekside at 57 E. Main Street to drop off collected change or purchase a yellow ribbon for $1 at Country Mart.
Melody said it is important for parents and families to understand that childhood cancer can strike at any time and awareness is part of how to wage the battle against it.
“Our whole thing is to tell people, hey, just because you have a well child today doesn’t mean you’re going to have a well one tomorrow. Be willing to go that extra mile because you don’t know when it’s going to affect your family.”