Every day, Dr. Jessica Pollard harnesses her love of science and her passion for research to fight for kids with AML. Read on for more about the longtime St. Baldrick’s Scholar and what she’s doing to give kids with cancer the childhoods they deserve.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Jessica Pollard does research on AML, one of the most common childhood cancers.
Dr. Jessica Pollard is all about analyzing prognostic factors. It floats her boat and puts the pep in her step. In fact, sometimes she burns the midnight oil doing just that.
But what exactly is this analyzing prognostic factor business that she likes so much?
In plain English, it’s examining certain things about a patient that can help tell her whether a person will recover from their cancer or relapse.
“My husband thinks I’m a geek, but you know, it keeps me going,” Dr. Pollard said.
Her geekery also saves lives.
Kids are special, and that’s why they need treatments made just for them. St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback agrees. She’s looking at the very building blocks of acute myeloid leukemia cells to spot differences that could help kids get the targeted therapy they need.
St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback works in the lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
Kids are not just little adults, says St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback.
That means their cancers aren’t just smaller, younger versions of adult cancers. They are fundamentally different.
Dr. Schuback should know. Her St. Baldrick’s-funded research is looking at how changes in the DNA of tumor cells can predict who will do well during treatment and who won’t. This information could help doctors tailor therapies from the start, getting kids just the right amount of treatment to kill the cancer, while limiting late-effects.
But these differences aren’t limited to which kids will respond well to treatment and which won’t. It’s bigger than that.
Yesterday, Ambassador Phineas’ dad, Carlos, joined more than 200 childhood cancer advocates on Capitol Hill to drum up support in Washington for kids with cancer. He opened up about what it’s like to have two children diagnosed with cancer, how research saved his son’s life, and why he won’t stop telling his family’s story. Read his powerful speech below.
Carlos with his son, Phineas. Phineas was diagnosed with cancer when he was 4, six years after his sister Althea died of childhood cancer.
I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but like most of my neighbors, I’m not actually from North Carolina. Chapel Hill is a college town where new people come and go every year.
Whenever my wife and I meet people for the first time, one of the first questions we get asked is, “So, how did you end up in Chapel Hill?”
When I hear that question, I always freeze for a second because I have to decide carefully how I want to answer.
Ambassador Phineas was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2013. He’s alive today because of research funded by St. Baldrick’s. His mom, Tina, shares how their family will be spending his three-year diagnosis anniversary.
The Sandi Family (left to right): Fiona, Carlos, Phineas and Tina.
On March 28, 2013, we found out that our 4-year-old son, Phineas, had cancer. It was a terrible day — but heartbreakingly familiar.
For years, Rabbi Vered Harris and Imam Imad Enchassi have stood together in support of peace, love and respect. Now, they’re working together to help kids with cancer. Last week, as Rabbi Harris fundraised ahead of her shave for St. Baldrick’s, the imam had a surprise for her. Read on to find out more!
Imam Imad Enchassi, second from left, and Rabbi Vered Harris stand together with attendees at an interfaith prayer service for Syrian refugees.
Rabbi Vered Harris was dumbstruck as she read a text from Imam Imad Enchassi. She had expected the imam to donate to her shave for St. Baldrick’s, but not like this.
Without telling her, Imam Enchassi had spread the word about her shave to members of the Muslim community of Oklahoma City. They rallied to the childhood cancer cause, raising $3,600 for the rabbi’s shave in just a day and a half — filling her entire fundraising goal in one fell swoop.
As Father’s Day approaches, Ambassador Sam’s dad, Michael, remembers his son and how he inspired him to be the best dad he could be.
Michael with his two oldest sons, Sammy (left) and David, in August 2013.
Twelve-year-old Jack is shaving in honor of his hero — his sister, Chloe. The little girl, nicknamed Coco, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) before she turned 2 years old. She also has Down syndrome. Now, Coco is in remission and just as peppy and smiley as ever. “She’s really fun to play with and funny,” Jack said. “She makes me laugh.”
Jack is shaving his head and raising money in honor of his little sister Coco, who is in remission after fighting AML.
Help Jack raise funds for childhood cancer research! Donate on his shavee page >
When he heard that he was going to have a sibling, Jack wanted a baby brother. But five years later, he doesn’t mind that he got a baby sister instead.
“They are just best buddies, those two,” said their mom, Beth.
Jack and his little sister Coco like shooting Nerf guns together, eating ice cream and playing hide-and-seek.
(Jack said a typical game goes something like this: “If I say, ‘Where are you?’ she says, ‘Over here!’”)
When Coco was in the hospital, he would play Barbies with her.
“When I go to the St. Baldrick’s event at Kitty Hoyne’s, it’s like a holiday to me,” Mike said. “I’m surrounded by people who are so passionate and just support me. I feel like I am lifted up — I don’t know how else to describe it.”
This is part one of a two-part series where Mike LaMonica talks about his daughter JJ, the Hero Fund that carries her name, and why this weekend is so special to him.It was midnight on a Friday in November 2009 when Mike LaMonica heard a knock on his front door. He opened it to see his family’s pediatrician.
Clayton was diagnosed with cancer at just 2 years old, but the very treatment that saved his life also put his life at risk. His dad, Jim, tells the story.
Clayton at the time of his first diagnosis.
On June 3, 2009, my wife and I sat in a small hospital room surrounded by our family, as a group of doctors and social workers came into the room to give us the news we knew was coming, but desperately hoped wouldn’t. Our 2 ½-year-old son, Clayton, had childhood cancer.
Learn more about childhood cancer >
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