QUINCY – The Fore River Bridge will glow a bright gold starting at dusk Thursday to mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in honor of Quincy’s Esther Earl and others who have fought or lost a battle with cancer.
The foundation started in her honor, called This Star Won’t Go Out, worked with the state Department of Transportation to light the bridge. The Zakim and Longfellow bridges in Boston and the Burnes Memorial Bridge in Worcester will also be lit.
“They’re going gold for childhood cancer and for the needs that are very present and real,” Lori Earl, Esther’s mother and executive director of the foundation, said.
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Children’s Cancer Cause, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, says about 1 in 285 children will develop cancer before the age of 20 and about 47 children per day are diagnosed. For many, there are treatment options, but the number of diagnoses is rising by almost 1% per year, she said.
“We’re not winning the battle yet. We’re winning some of the battles, but there is just so much that people need to be made aware of,” Earl said. “Lighting up for childhood cancer is one way to say, ‘Hey there are a lot of needs out here and there are a lot of people going through this and it’s important to be aware of it and of the toll that it takes.”
Earl said her daughter’s fight against thyroid cancer connected them to a network of families in similar situations at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Esther died in 2010 at the age of 16, and the nonprofit started in her honor financially assists other families with a child in treatment.
“We became aware afterwards that we weren’t the only ones who were struggling financially during treatment, trying to take care of all of your needs and losing work because you go to the hospital,” Earl said. “We wanted to be able to honor Esther and help other families who were going through what we had gone through.”
Esther was diagnosed with metastasized papillary thyroid cancer in 2006. During her battle, the teen was popular on social media platforms Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube. In 2009, Esther met and developed a friendship with popular young-adult author John Green. After her death, Esther became the inspiration for the best-selling book and feature film “The Fault in Our Stars.”
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To reach Dina Kaur, email firstname.lastname@example.org.