Editorial: Beyond cancer

Every year, the families of 175 children in Connecticut are faced with the unthinkable. Their children have been diagnosed with cancer. Each year, more than 500 other children are undergoing treatment.

Happily, more than 80% of these children will be cured. That means, unfortunately, that 20% will not.

Childhood cancer is more than numbers. It is children. It is families. It is dedicated doctors, nurses and other professionals.

As difficult as it is for an adult to face such a diagnosis and treatment, these children, some impossibly young, must do the same. Yet they do it with grace, dignity, courage, and humor.

We can see that through the latest photography exhibition at Wilton Library, opening Friday evening, April 8. Life Within the Journey — Beyond Diagnosis, A Portrait of What Endures takes us beyond the IV ports, the bald heads, the hospital gowns.

The show is presented by Circle of Care, the Wilton nonprofit that provides emotional and financial assistance to families facing this terrible, terrible battle. These 22 black-and-white portraits show young people, from 18 months to 22 years, as they are. Kids. Young adults. Not cancer.

It is a powerful show that elicits powerful emotions. Like bravery, defiance, resolve, hope, gratitude, and even optimism.

Despite the fact that more children are surviving cancer, there have been reports that childhood cancer has actually been on the rise the past several decades. This means more families will face the high emotional, financial and personal costs of treatment. But they are not alone. By working alongside their partners at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Maria Ferrari Children’s Hospital, Circle of Care has supported nearly 1,700 families since its inception in 2003.

Those behind this exhibition will welcome the community at a reception Friday evening from 6 to 8, featuring refreshments by Barcelona catering.

This is definitely a show worth seeing, worth contemplating. You will learn about the good work of Circle of Care and you will see these kids beyond their diagnosis.