2017 was a big year, full of breakthroughs, incredible stories and some pretty amazing achievements in the childhood cancer world. Join us as we reflect on St. Baldrick’s top 10 highlights of the past year — and make sure you give yourself a pat on the back, because much of this was possible because of YOU!
Are you ready to take a trip down memory lane? Here we go …
1) Passage of the RACE Act
With an irresistible laugh and the face of a cherub, 5-year-old Kellan wins the hearts of everyone he meets. No one even notices his wheelchair.
Last week, in the pages of the medical journal Cancer Cell, St. Baldrick’s researchers announced a discovery that could radically transform treatment for kids with neuroblastoma – a new immunotherapy drug candidate that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer that begins in the nerve tissue outside the brain, usually in a child’s abdomen. It strikes very young children, up to about age 7, and is the most common cancer diagnosed in infants. Only about 50% of patients survive the high-risk form of neuroblastoma.
All of this makes this new targeted immunotherapy for neuroblastoma especially good news, but it gets even better.
Honored Kid Amanda was just a year old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and only a toddler when she died. This is why her dad, Ron Rozman, advocates for kids’ cancer research — so other parents and kids don’t ever have to endure the cruelties of childhood cancer. Read on for more about his exuberant girl, her tough fight and his advice on how you can become an advocate, no matter where you live.
Ron and Michelle Rozman cuddle and laugh with their daughter Amanda during a day at the park.
She loved to dance. Three-year-old Amanda twirling around and exclaiming, “Whee! Whee!” in sheer delight is a precious memory for Ron and Michelle Rozman.
It’s one of many favorite remembrances of their then-only child who was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma when she was 16 months old.
It is these memories that now fuel Ron’s dedicated efforts as an advocate for pediatric cancer research funding.
In April of 2013, our family joined the club that no one wants to be in – the childhood cancer club. We were told that our 2-year-old daughter, Hazel, had Stage 3, high-risk neuroblastoma, which came with the added baggage of only about a 50% survival rate. To say we were utterly terrified and shell-shocked would be an understatement.
Honored Kid Hazel and her mom, Lauren, smile together during a day at the park.
But our daughter adapted to her new normal with ease and bravery. She guided us in our fight and inspired us in our determination to get through this arduous journey and give her the best chance, not only at survival, but at living a full life.
Ever wonder if your contributions make a real difference? That money you donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – did it really accomplish anything?
David squeezes his mom, Susan, tight during a fundraising event.
Let us tell you about our son, David.
When Honored Kid Hazel H. relapsed, there was no clear path forward. There was no tried-and-true roadmap to survival. There was no cure. But now, spunky, precocious little Hazel is cancer free for the second time. How? Three words that bring kids with cancer and their families hope – childhood cancer research.
Diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013, Hazel relapsed after two and a half years cancer free. Now, in a turn of events rare for kids with relapsed neuroblastoma, she’s cancer free once again.
It was the summer of 2016 when Hazel and her family went on vacation to Yosemite National Park. For once, they were all together – Lauren and Aaron, plus the five kids: Micah, Elizabeth, Hazel, Jonah and Zoe. It felt normal. Like a regular family vacation.
For some families that might sound typical, like something every family does every summer. But to this family – which had spent the past few years in and out of hospitals, making life-or-death decisions – typical was wonderful. It was a strange, unfamiliar kind of bliss.
Honored Kid David was bright, charming and totally dedicated to embracing life. He also had childhood cancer. David asked his family to fight for a cure — a cure that didn’t come soon enough for him. Read on to learn more about this spectacular 10-year-old, his childhood cancer journey and why his mom, Susan, is passionate about research.
David hugs his mom, Susan, at a fundraising event.
Who would David be if he had grown up?
His mom can’t help but wonder. If he’d lived, he’d be a teenager now.
Would he still have that obsession with colorful skinny jeans? Would that cello he insisted upon getting still be gathering dust? Would he still be that bubbly, charismatic kid she remembers?
What if childhood cancer research hadn’t failed him?
That’s what Susan Heard wonders.
Meet Zein, a goofy, laid back kid with a sunny attitude. Despite his ongoing battle with neuroblastoma, he’ll be VIP at the St. Baldrick’s Ever After Ball fundraiser this weekend. But honestly, he’s a VIP in our hearts all the time. Read on to learn why…
Zein goofs around at the hospital during treatment for neuroblastoma.
When Honored Kid Zein grows up, he wants to invent a food that heals cancer and allows kids to get better without getting sick from chemo or having to swallow pills.
This very cool idea is brought to you by a 10-year-old boy that his mom, Radwa, called “the most chill kid” you’ll ever meet. Zein is “silly, humble, super kind and loves to be there for everybody else,” she added.
Even before the cancer.
Isabella is a prizefighter in a tiny, 3-year-old body, knocking out childhood cancer with a smile. Read on to learn more about this incredible puzzle-loving girl, her shining spirit, and her unique childhood cancer journey.
Isabella was diagnosed with neuroblastoma last year and is currently completing her treatment.
Isabella’s favorite song suits her so perfectly that it could be the theme to her own story.
It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
That’s right. The 3-year-old is obsessed with “Eye of the Tiger,” the theme song to the ultimate American underdog story, Rocky. Her mom, Jennifer, often jokes that sometimes during treatment Isabella needs a little Rocky inspiration.
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