I have watched Brady, Jesanti, Christian, and now Brandon; 4 beautiful children who all fought the terror of pediatric cancer and in the end sacrificed their lives to beat this beast. How many more brave wonderful children will it take before we wake up and start truly focusing on finding a cure for childhood cancer? The facts are telling:
Each year around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US. One in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of twenty. On the average, 36 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States (around 46 per school day). One in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients. The incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years.
The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown. At present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented.
Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.
Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States.
1 in 5 children diagnosed with cancer will die within 5-years 1 in 3 children diagnosed with cancer will not live-out a normal life-span (excess mortality). Some pediatric brain tumors, such as brain stem gliomas and pontine gliomas, are terminal upon diagnosis and no new protocols have been developed in 30 years. Many pediatric cancers, including neuroblastoma and disseminated medulloblastoma, are terminal upon progression or recurrence.
Cancer kills more children than AIDs, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined.
Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer - 1/2 of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old. Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers. However, the NCI spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children’s cancers.
I pray Brandon and all his fellow fallen childhood cancer warriors are finally resting in peace. You brave soul you fought a tremendous battle and I promise you it will not be in vain.