The truths in my last post about what childhood cancer has in common with landing on the moon continue to circulate through my mind and heart. What speaks loudest to me is that we are ignoring the urgency of the need for cures for childhood cancer. There is so little awareness of childhood cancer that we accept “what is.” Many people assume that any child with cancer can go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and receive free treatment that will cure them for life.
There is no known cause for childhood cancer.
Getting a proper diagnosis for a child with cancer can be an all-out mission of searching.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, 80% have advanced stages of the disease, compared to 20% in adults.
Treatment for childhood cancers (if there is one) are ancient.
“Research for children with cancer-especially for those with solid tumors like sarcomas and brain cancer—lags nearly two decades behind their adult counterparts.”
~Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., Division Head, Division of Pediatrics, TheUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital
NCI funding for childhood cancer research has been dwindling, with a 30% decrease over the past decade. Pediatric cancer research receives a tiny 4% of the total NCI budget. This is critical. Federal funding for pediatric cancer research is vital, due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies do not see returns on their investments like they do for developing drugs to treat adult cancers. Virtually all the funding for pediatric cancer research comes from the NCI. Cuts to this budget greatly harm the Children’s Oncology Group and block medical discoveries that will lead to saving the lives of our children.
“Accounting for inflation, NCI’s funding has decreased by more than $1.1 billion (24.7 percent) since FY 2003.”
(The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)
Where I really want to go here is beyond the statistics. We are talking about children. We are talking about children who are fighting for their lives. We are talking about seven children dying from cancer each and every day in our country. We are talking about lack of research which means outdated treatments that cause a lifetime of suffering—if a child does indeed survive.
Imagine that childhood cancer was in human form, not disease form.
Would we carry on with our lives as if we had not a care in the world while an assassin showed up and killed 7 children each day in this country? Would we call in the FBI, the Navy Seals, and every single solitary team that could possibly snuff out this killer? Would we develop ways to protect our children from this evil monster? Would we wait a day, a week, a month, a year, to act?
If childhood cancer was in human form, we would have already captured and killed it.
Just because childhood cancer is in disease form does not mean this is not urgent!
As I prepare to travel to Washington, D.C. next week for childhood cancer events, including Curefest, I keep thinking of Erin Griffin and Gabriella Miller. Both girls spoke at last year’s event. This year, they will not be able to attend in person. They will be viewing the event from heaven.
This IS urgent! THIS IS URGENT!
Sometimes I wish childhood cancer was in human form. I wish it could meet Mohammed Ali in his prime in the ring.
Guest Blogger: Lee Marchiano
Something you can do today to help end childhood cancer: