Project:EveryChild is an ambitious initiative to find better cures for every type of childhood cancer, no matter how rare. And it is only possible because of the combined efforts of researchers, families of children with cancer, and you.
There are about 14,000 new cases of childhood cancer each year in the United States, and the most common – acute lymphoblastic leukemia – accounts for about 3,500 of those. But there are some types of cancer that are diagnosed in fewer than 100 children a year. The rarer the disease, the more challenging it is for researchers to make progress.
No matter how common or rare, each child deserves the best chance at a cure. That’s where Project:EveryChild comes in.
Why do kids get cancer? That’s the question we asked Dr. John Maris, who co-leads the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team. Researchers like Dr. Maris are working hard to find the answer to this question because it could hold the key to cures for kids’ cancer.
Why do kids get cancer? In short, there’s no single, easy answer.
The answer is complicated, said Dr. Maris.
Raman Bahal, Ph.D., a St. Baldrick’s Research Grant recipient at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, explains Burkitt Lymphoma symptoms, treatment options, and research opportunities.
September is here, or as we call it: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) – which, as you’d imagine, is a pretty big deal at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the #1 private funder of pediatric cancer research. Every year at this time there are blogs, social posts, invitations to change your Facebook profile or use a hashtag on Twitter related to CCAM – but this year you’ll also be seeing something new.
Although CCAM helps build awareness of pediatric cancers, there’s a need for a more permanent rallying cry. We don’t want September to be one month when people tweet and share Facebook updates about kids with cancer and then move on – after all, somewhere in the world, every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. We purposely created this campaign to bring this reality front and center.
First, though, a little background.
Most of you know St. Baldrick’s for our signature head shaving events, where a shavee raises money and shaves their head to stand in solidarity with kids battling cancer. While these are the most visible, public events, you may not know that we work with other charities and foundations to form partnerships, allowing for more grant funding every year. Currently, we’re working with 7 different charities, and we’ve together raised upwards of $2 million as a result of those partnerships.
One such foundation, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, has worked to see research move to clinical trials. You can learn more about one project we’ve worked together to fund at this video.
Most St. Baldrick’s Foundation supporters know they are making hundreds of childhood cancer research projects possible. They may not realize the research they supported has been published in more than 1,350 research publications since 2005.
We’ll touch on just a few of those here. But first, why are publications important and how do they help find cures for childhood cancer? The answer started long ago.
July is Sarcoma Month, and since this is a disease that so often strikes children, teens and young adults, St. Baldrick’s supports a great deal of sarcoma research.
Only about 1% of cancers diagnosed in adults are sarcomas, but they make up 20-25% of cancers between the age of 10 and 20. The most common are osteosarcoma (bone tumors), Ewing sarcoma (bone or soft tissue tumors) and rhabdomyosarcoma (muscle tumors).
Dr. Alejandro Sweet-Cordero is one of many St. Baldrick’s grant recipients tackling sarcomas, and his funding was made possible by our donors in a unique way.
When the St. Baldrick’s Foundation announced its latest grant recipients today – via a press release that you can see here: Press Release – we were pleased to report that more than $17 million was awarded to a total of 55 recipients.
To put that into perspective, we award $27 million toward grants and advocacy efforts this year, so this represents the largest of our funding cycles during the year. (A complete list of the institutions that were awarded grants can be found at the end of this blog post. )
A Famous Kid and A Pediatric Cancer Researcher Who Learned From Him – And What Those Lessons Might Mean for Future Pediatric Cancer Treatment
It was an inspirational story that was tough to miss: Tyler Trent, Purdue student and Boilermaker superfan, battling a cancer that would prove fatal, and doing so with grace, poise, and character that belied his 20 years. His story has been told during countless television pieces, and social media posts, and even a book. Behind the scenes, though, Tyler made a decision that could potentially mean lifesaving treatment in years to come for others faced with aggressive cancers. He agreed to be treated by a team of professionals that would try a precision oncology approach, with genomics front and center, to test what could potentially work for others in the future. The medical team hoped to learn ways to minimize the long-term effects from a wide range of cancers for those who survive.
One member of the team that worked with Tyler, and got to know his family, too, was Dr. Jamie Renbarger, a six-time St. Baldrick’s Foundation shavee and Division Chief of hematology/oncology at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. During her nearly twenty years as a pediatric cancer doctor and researcher, Dr. Renbarger has learned a few things about genomics, about targeted, precision therapies – like those tried with Tyler – and about how research can lead to unexpected discoveries.
“Same old, same old … doesn’t count.” Bob Arceci didn’t think that old methods were going to tackle pediatric cancers. As you can hear him talk about in this video, he was looking for new ideas, for thinking that wasn’t just “out of the box,” but never really in the box in the first place.
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