One of the most vexing problems in pediatric cancer research is trying to find out why certain treatments work for some kids and not for others, or why some kids suffer more health consequences from the same treatment that others do not.
If you’re dealing with something concrete – like plumbing issues in your home, or a car that has suddenly stopped working – it’s usually a trial and error process that will tell you why. Why does the faucet leak? The pipe wasn’t properly tightened. Why did the timing belt go out on the car? Well, those things are only good for so many miles.
Pediatric cancers are much less concrete, and way more complex than plumbing or maintaining a car. And, given the life and death nature of pediatric cancer diagnoses, it’s of vital importance to ask the right questions and get the right answers.
Working Together and Asking ‘Why?’
Consider DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma): it’s a fast-growing cancer that strikes children and is nearly always fatal.
Hunter Morin knows this cancer all too well. Hunter’s grandson, Luke, was diagnosed with DIPG and died just seventeen days after his diagnosis. Hunter, who is close friends with University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, wants to know “Why?” and he wants to honor Luke’s memory by supporting the Cancer Doesn’t Care campaign. Hunter served as honorary co-chair of the annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Invitational, which was held in June in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and raised more than $1 million to kick off (or, more appropriately, “tee up”) the ACS and St. Baldrick’s partnership.The Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Outing, June 9 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, marked the official beginning of the fundraising effort. Pictured, L-R: Event Co-chair Hunter Morin, American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy, St. Baldrick’s Foundation CEO Kathleen Ruddy, University of North Carolina Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams, and National Association of Basketball Coaches Deputy Executive Director Reggie Minton.
Working together, the two organizations have launched this initiative to leverage clinical trials so that we not only learn which treatments give patients better outcomes, but why. These research projects will look at the science behind clinical trials results. Discovering why some patients respond better than others to a particular treatment will allow researchers to do more, to move faster, and to help those we are not yet curing. While that sounds like common sense, it’s often very hard for researchers to find funding for this part of the work. Clinical trials are expensive, and when funds are short, the trial itself takes precedence over studies linked to trial results.
The awareness campaign – which launches in the days ahead on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – says rather directly that “Cancer Doesn’t Care.” Cancer can strike without warning – like it did with Luke Morin. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re young or old, if you’re rich or poor, or where you live. It doesn’t consider a family’s personal situation. Cancer, sadly, doesn’t care.
With an overall goal of $11 million, the team is working to raise $4.4 million during the first phase and, once that amount is raised, the partners will issue a request for applications to the research community. Both organizations will jointly oversee the scientific review process.
The Strength of Partnership to Support Pediatric Cancer Research
The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer; the organization is a leading funder of childhood cancer research. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research. Together, the two are determined to take major steps forward to help infants, children, teens and young adults with cancer.
Through this partnership both St. Baldrick’s and the American Cancer Society will be able to attract the support of new donors who support the synergy of this mission.
We invite you to reach out and tell us what you think – and as you see the campaign on social media, please share it with contacts, colleagues, and friends.
Together, we hope that the American Cancer Society and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation can find out not only what works best for childhood cancers, but also why – to move faster to a world when every child can be cured.
For information on this partnership or to donate: https://www.stbaldricks.org/acs
Join the fight against childhood cancer.