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Lions Clubs in the UP helping children with cancer

PRESLIE MANTSCH

MARQUETTE — In September, the Lions Clubs of the Upper Peninsula are expanding their outreach efforts to help families affected by childhood cancer.

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. More than 11,000 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society. Although the survival rate for pediatric cancer is improving and now is about 84 %, childhood cancer can be devastating to the growth and development in children, as well as to their family and friends. When kids should be focused on school, play and socializing, they are focused on medications, operations and procedures.

Jean McDonough of Charlevoix, Mich., the executive director of Camp Quality Michigan, is a family nurse practitioner who has worked with childhood cancer for more than 30 years. She says cancer treatment for children can be lengthy. Typical treatment for leukemia, the leading pediatric cancer, is three years. The effects last even longer. She says 80% of pediatric cancer survivors experience life-long physical, cognitive and growth and development issues.

The Upper Peninsula Lions Childhood Cancer Program has helped four U.P. families this year, providing funds for travel, food and medical expenses.

One child helped was 3-year-old Preslie Mantsch, the daughter of Tom and her mother Nikki of Iron River, who had to undergo treatment at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, because there are no pediatric cancer treatment centers in the Upper Peninsula.

Preslie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of blood and bone marrow cancer in April.

Lions’ fundraising efforts, including a can drive and a generous grant from Graymont Community Development Fund, have allowed expansion of financial support to affected families. Three non-profit organizations are working with Lions to provide additional services to kids with cancer and their siblings in the U.P.

Camp Quality serves ages 4 to 17 with cancer and their families by providing free year-round programs, experiences and companionship. Although the camp has involved face-to-face programming in past years, this year they will be offering virtual interactions.

Camp Quality promotes hope and inspiration while helping children foster life skills and the chance to be kids again. The website is campqualityusa.org/mi.

Lions help Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan as they provide free wigs and support services to help Michigan children with cancer. Email is maggie@wigs4kids.org.

Kids Kicking Cancer provides free therapeutic martial arts classes to empower sick children to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally. Ages 3 years and older and their siblings are eligible for the program, which will be offering virtual classes at kidskickingcancer.org.

Any family grappling with childhood cancer is invited to contact District 10 Lions Childhood Cancer Chairman Chris Smith at lionchris906pcc@outlook.com.

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