Ambassador Lauren Heads to Capitol Hill for Childhood Cancer Action Days

by Lauren Bendesky
June 15, 2015

Today, 2014 Ambassador Lauren is among more than 300 childhood cancer advocates in Washington, D.C., fighting to make childhood cancer a national priority. Here’s what she wants Congress to know.

St. Baldrick's Ambassador Lauren Bendesky

As I prepare to speak on Capitol Hill for Childhood Cancer Action Days, I can’t help but look back on my grueling journey with pediatric cancer.

Diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma at the age of 14, I was mature enough to comprehend my prognosis. I was given only a 30 to 50% chance of survival. Even with my positive and strong mindset, there were times when my doctors did not think I would recover.

Learn more about neuroblastoma >

I have now been in remission for more than two years. Even though I am a success story, my journey with pediatric cancer is nowhere near the end. I am now facing symptoms from the brutal treatment that saved my life.

People often visualize cancer victims as smiling children with beautiful bald heads, but I am going to end the stereotypes. I want people to know the realities of childhood cancer.

My main mission is to advocate for action. People are already talking and movements are starting, but we need action to find new treatments and improve the quality of life for childhood cancer victims.

Lauren in the hospital during her treatment for neuroblastoma

Last summer I interned at MD Anderson Cancer Center with Dr. Dean Lee, whose immunotherapy research has been supported by multiple St. Baldrick’s grants. In particular, I studied the ability of natural killer cells to destroy neuroblastoma tumor cells. During this time I was able to see how much time and work goes into investigating new cures for childhood cancer. Without the support of large organizations like the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, this type of innovative research would not be possible.

Read more about Lauren’s internship in childhood cancer research >

Lauren holding a pipette while working on a neuroblastoma immunotherapy research project

Lauren at work in Dr. Lee’s lab last summer.

I hope to be able to share my passion for pediatric cancer and my desire to become a pediatric oncologist and researcher with the representatives. I hope it will encourage them to advocate for greater funding. With more financial support of childhood cancer researchers, more emphasis can be placed on the actual creation of new treatments and less on finding sources of funding.

Most importantly, I want them to know that childhood cancer affects everyone. On average, 43 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each day. When a child dies of cancer, they lose on average 71 years of life. To truly better our nation and allow for the next generation to thrive, we must give them a fighting chance.

I hope to make a difference this upcoming week, as I believe one person can change the world one small step at a time!

YOU can help change the world for kids with cancer — and you don’t have to go to D.C. Join Lauren in telling Congress to #StepUp and make childhood cancer a national priority.

Tell Congress to #StepUp

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