Thursday, April 17, 2008

Childhood Cancer

This morning I spoke at a radio-thon at Nationwide Children's Hospital to raise money for childhood cancer research. The senate is currently discussing The Conquer Childhood Cancer Act, sponsored by Deborah Pryce (R) of Ohio, that will give $30 million toward childhood cancer research. The House version was sponsored by Jack Reed (D). To place funding in perspective, we spend $30 million every 2 1/2 hours on the war. This is not making a political statement on the war. It is a statement of commitment and determination. We may disagree on war strategy, yet we all agree with supporting our troops and defending our nation. But what about our children? Don't we need to defend and support them as well? Billy Graham said he could read a man's heart by looking in his checkbook to see where we spends money. Where is our heart? Where is our commitment?
  • 1 in 300 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20.

  • 12,400 children are diagnosed each year.

  • 3,000 will die of cancer each year.

  • After accidents, cancer is the #1 killer of children ages 1-19.

  • The cause of most childhood cancers is still unknown.

  • Only 3% of cancer research money goes toward childhood cancers.

  • There are currently 30,000-40,000 children fighting cancer in the U.S.

  • The number of children diagnosed with cancer has increased every year for the past 25 years.

  • Teenagers and young adults (ages 15-22) are the only age group that have flat or declining survival rates from cancer.

  • In the past 25 years ONLY ONE new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric use. Since children can handle much more chemo than adults, most treatments are little more than mega doses of adult cancer chemotherapy treatments. The result of these high doses of chemo on children is a higher rate of secondary cancers. For reasons not fully known, teenagers experience the highest rate of secondary cancers as a result of the high dose chemotherapy treatments.

  • Teenagers have the highest fatality rate of any age group. Their cancers tend to be much more rare, therefore lacking established treatments. Their cancers also tend to be far more advanced when diagnosed.

  • A 5-year study at Children's Hospital Pittsburgh of UPMC recently concluded that teenage cancer survivorship is lower due in part to a lack of access to clinical trials. They concluded: "Patients who are enrolled in clinical trials offering the most advanced cancer treatments do better than patients who receive conventional treatment. Adolescents and young adults with cancer are less likely than younger children to be enrolled in clinical trials."

When Tyler was diagnosed, the first thing I did was began a search for other teenagers with cancer. In late November I came across Christian Barker, a 14 year old fighting cancer. This past week Sandy Barker, Christian's mother, was in Washington D.C. meeting with Congress about the need for more money for childhood cancer research. There is a cure. We just need to find it. It will take commitment and dedication. Over 30 years ago President Nixon declared war on cancer. He said we can find the cure if we approach it with the same dedication we used to place a man on the moon. That level of dedication has still not happened.

Why is this important? This is why.

After a long courageous battle, Christian Barker passed away December 29.

Contact your representatives now and let them know how you feel

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