Being a parent comes a seemingly endless supply of concerns, but the biggest worry that every parent has is for the health and safety of their children. Kids seem to contract a never-ending stream of afflictions, both mild and severe. While head colds and sore throats are a regular part of growing up, there are also serious chronic illnesses that affect some children and are life threatening, including cancer.

Cancer is one of the leading cause of death by illness in children 15 and under. Every year, more than 15,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with the disease, and tragically, about ¼ of them will not survive. Needless to say, the consequences of childhood cancer can be devastating to families and communities. While the causes are still largely unknown, progress is continually being made, with increases in survival rates as well as novel therapies and groundbreaking discoveries that increase our understanding of how cancer occurs.

Still, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and families, philanthropies, and scientists across the country hope to raise awareness, fund research, and provide support to families.

Here are some things that you can do.

1. Be Informed

Did you know that childhood cancer is not the same as adult cancer? Affecting kids and young adults (up the age of 21), treatment for childhood cancer is not the same as what adults receive, and this difference is critical. Childhood cancer is difficult to prevent because it is often not linked to lifestyle factors, and unlike adult cancer, which can be diagnosed early, by the time is it discovered, it has usually spread to other parts of the body.

2. Recognize People's Efforts

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) has created Gold Ribbon Heroes to recognize groups or individuals who have had a positive impact on the lives of affected people in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. You can click on this link to nominate a hero, which includes patients, parents, hospital staff, siblings, and volunteers.

3. Organize or Host an Event

Schools, libraries, churches, and a countless number of organizations both big and small can host an event to support cancer awareness and research. Participants can register their event with the ACCO, which can give consultation and help promote the event. Hosting can occur throughout the year, not just September.

4. Lead by Example

Leading by example is a great way to inspire those around you to follow suit. Showing your support can be as involved as organizing a fundraising event or as simple as raising awareness by talking and disseminating information.

5. Volunteer

There are a number of organizations in the fight against cancer that welcome volunteers. For local hospitals or churches, giving your time to help those in need is a great way to show your support and feel good about yourselves. It is also a great way to inspire your kids to help others. For more information, contact your local church or hospital, and visit the websites for ACCO and the American Cancer Society.

6. Make a Donation

Non-profit groups are always in the need of money. Whether it is a church offering support to cancer-stricken families, schools holding fundraisers, or non-profit groups searching for therapies and a cure, financial donations both big and small made a difference.

7. Touch a Child's Life

Whether or not you know a child with cancer, you can touch a child's life by showing them that they are not alone. Parents can organize card writing campaigns with local kids or schools, or contact families in need to see what can be done. Local churches and hospitals are good places to learn more.

The burdens of childhood cancer can be enormous for the family of a sick child, and in most situations, every little bit of support can make a difference, especially when it involves compassion and empathy. During these difficult times, it doesn't take much for us to give a little of our time and money to touch a child's life and maybe make life, if even for a moment, a little brighter.

If you'd like to learn more about what you can do, spend some at the website for the American Childhood Cancer Association. The site is filled with useful information as well as helpful links on how to be involved and make a difference.