Today is National Cancer Survivors Day and in celebration, we are bringing you the survivorship story of 2013 Ambassador Emily, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma as a 16-year-old. Now nearing five years cancer free, she’s a huge advocate for kids’ cancer research. She wants to see all kids with cancer leave the childhood cancer world behind — for good. Read on for more about Emily, her treatment and its effects, and what it’s like to be a survivor.
Emily in 2013, during her treatment for cancer (left) and Emily last month (right) in New York City, which she’s made her home after graduating from New York University.
Emily lives in two worlds.
In one, she just graduated from New York University, is cruising the Adriatic Sea over the summer, and snagged her dream job in television production.
The other world is different.
When Dr. Monica Gramatges meets a kid with cancer, she often breaks the ice by talking about art. That’s because she loves art and explored art therapy as a career before becoming a doctor. Read on to learn more about this St. Baldrick’s Scholar’s unique path to doctorhood and how she’s helping kids with leukemia.
When Dr. Monica Gramatges was a medical student, she volunteered as an art teacher at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. There, she met an amazing little girl with leukemia and Down syndrome.
And that’s when something clicked. That’s when she decided she wanted to be a pediatric oncologist.
“They’d lost their hair, they weren’t feeling great, they were tired and nauseous, but they were still wanting to draw and paint, and were so creative,” she said. “These were just kids wanting to be kids, despite everything that was happening to them.”
St. Baldrick’s Scholars Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Agne Petrosiute are studying how switching off a protein could lead to new treatments and cures for kids with brain tumors. Read on for more about their unexpected discovery, its implications for immunotherapy, and why Dr. Huang compares himself to those fuzzy little bears in Star Wars.
Dr. Agne Petrosiute (left) and Dr. Alex Huang study how the immune system can be harnessed to fight pediatric brain cancer.
Dr. Alex Huang likens himself and his colleague, Dr. Agne Petrosiute, to Ewoks battling the Death Star.
“We are the Ewoks that found the controller on this planet, and all of a sudden the Death Star cannot put up the shield anymore,” he said. “And so now, Luke Skywalker can go in there and blow it up.”
It may seem like a curious explanation, but it fits.
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.
From MRIs to CT scans, kids with brain cancer get pictures taken of their tumors all the time. St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Peter de Blank wants to get more out of those pictures, so that all children can lead long, healthy lives. Read on for more about this St. Baldrick’s Scholar and the exciting work he’s doing with a new imaging technology.
Getting scans done is a routine part of life for a kid with cancer, like 2013 Ambassador Emily. Dr. Peter de Blank wants to use new technology to get more out of scans like these.
For Dr. Peter de Blank, a picture is not only worth a thousand words — a picture can save a life.
As a St. Baldrick’s Scholar at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. de Blank is studying how a new radiographic tool, called magnetic resonance fingerprinting, or MRF, might improve outcomes for kids with cancer.
Kids are special, and childhood cancers are different than adult cancers. That’s why we’re funding research to find new therapies and cures just for kids.
We asked our researchers, “In the last 10 years, what’s been the greatest achievement in the field of pediatric cancer research?”
Here’s what they had to say.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infection. The cells do not grow and develop properly, filling up the bone marrow inside bones, where blood is normally made.
ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for 35% of all cancers in children. Each year, there are about 2,900 new cases of children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL in the United States alone.
Its signs and symptoms resemble other common illnesses, which often leads to other treatments before the leukemia diagnosis is made.
Just mentioning herpes might make some people a little nervous, but in this story, herpes is the good guy. Read on for more about St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Gregory Friedman’s work on a genetically altered version of the virus that could be the next targeted therapy for kids with brain tumors.
Dr. Friedman smiles with a young patient in an exam room at Children’s of Alabama.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Gregory Friedman discovered that the herpes simplex virus, with a few modifications, will kill pediatric brain cancer cells — without causing cold sores.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Oren Becher is working to decrypt one of the most deadly and least understood childhood cancers — DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Thanks to diligent and brilliant work in the labs of research greats and a boost from St. Baldrick’s, Dr. Becher now has his own lab and his own team team dedicated to DIPG research. Together they’re determined to make a difference for kids with this currently incurable brain cancer.
Dr. Oren Becher recently moved to his own lab, where he studies DIPG in an effort to find a treatment for the deadly brain cancer.
We have some big news that will have you jumping through the sprinkler with joy.
Summer has arrived and so have St. Baldrick’s Summer Grants!
Today we are awarding a whopping $21.2 million in new research grants to scientists across the globe. That’s 70 grants in 48 states and 11 countries, going to researchers making incredible gains in the fight against childhood cancer.
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