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Robert’s Ready for Lauren’s Run, Are You?

April in Atlanta means short sleeves, bursts of azaleas, a robin’s song, and pollen… lots and lots of pollen. April also means it is time for Lauren’s Run and CURE Annual Picnic. Nestled at the very end of the month, Lauren’s Run has become a can’t-miss family event for our community. It also brings out the competitive fire in some.

One of those competitors is Robert. This year’s Lauren’s Run will be Robert’s fifth. While he might seem unlikely to win the race, his team is the reigning champion in one very important category and he doesn’t intend to relinquish that honor without a fight.

Robert’s run with cancer started in 2010, when he was only six years old. His parents noticed that he was more tired than usual and when dark circles appeared under his eyes, they immediately took him to the doctor. Soon they were on their way to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where they learned that Robert had leukemia. His treatment lasted three years and just as they finished, a spinal tap indicated that he had relapsed. Since that time, he hasn’t been able to outrun cancer. Whenever he beats it, the cancer seems to catch right back up to him. His treatment has taken him across the country a few times in a search for long-term success.

Throughout this whole journey of chemotherapy, spinal tabs, side effects, hospital stays, and family separation, Robert has shown amazing strength. He’s never complained and has dealt with every situation better than most adults would. His smile is big and his laughter infectious.

“Robert has taught us what is important in life and what really matters,” said his mother, Kasie. “This year Robert turned 13 and has officially been battling cancer longer than he has not.”

Last year, Robert and his Team Robert the Great won the coveted title of Top Fundraising Team with nearly $10,000. Just like in the picture, he was at the very center of the competition.

“He really wanted to win,” Kasie said with a laugh. “When other teams got close to our total, he would share a video of himself dancing and ask for more on Facebook. And people responded.”

Kasie doesn’t want Robert to know, but she shared her fundraising secrets with us.

“The key is to express the need. And to do that, you have to ask – face to face and by email, as well as on Facebook! People just don’t know how little is spent on childhood cancer research. But when you tell them, they almost always want to help.” she said. “CURE Childhood Cancer has been a big part of our lives since Robert’s first day at the hospital and we’re proud that the money Robert’s team raises for Lauren’s Run goes to fight cancers that affect kids.”

Robert’s team is already in first place for this year with over $5500 raised and he is working on his dance moves in case he falls behind.

Whether you want to join Robert or compete with him, we are all on the same team when it comes to fighting childhood cancer. By participating in Lauren’s Run, you’re taking a small step that can have a massive impact in the fight against childhood cancer. Won’t you join us?

Join Us at Lauren’s Run

 

Managing Scanxiety

The term “scanxiety” commonly refers to the anxiety, worry, and fear associated with post-treatment follow-up imaging.  A follow-up MRI or CT scan months to years after enduring cancer treatment can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety in anticipation of the imaging results.  One of the reasons for such anxiety is that parents and children who have undergone cancer treatment have learned, in profound ways, how unpredictable cancer and its treatment can be.

Managing one’s own “scanxiety” is complicated enough for an adult cancer survivor who undergoes routine follow-up imaging; it becomes even more complicated for the parent who is guiding his or her child through the process of follow-up scanning.  Parents often must manage their own anxiety while navigating how to best help their children deal with their feelings.

Given the potentially overwhelming nature of such anxiety, it can be helpful for both parents and children to follow anxiety prevention and reduction techniques during the weeks, days, and even minutes before the imaging takes place.  Here are some ideas for reducing the stress associated with follow-up scanning.

Positive Self-Talk:  When worry or rumination begin to creep into your – or your child’s – mind, remember that checking for recurrence does not mean re-experiencing past trauma associated with the original cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Remind yourself to take each moment as it comes, knowing that you and your child will process new information if needed, when needed.  Try to turn negative thoughts into positive ones by imagining yourself and your child facing any new problems with courage, and resolving them successfully, one day at a time.

A Celebration of Self-Care and Wellness:  Checking for cancer recurrence may naturally lend itself to worrying about the future.  Refocusing your own thoughts and your child’s thoughts on the fact that together you have overcome important past struggles can become a moment of triumph and celebration.  Follow-up scanning can be a reminder of victory rather than a trigger for excessive worry.  Turn the experience into a moment of positive affirmation of your past resilience in the face of adversity.

Laughter – and Smiles – Are the Best Medicine:  Before the scan, plan an event or outing that brings laughter and joy to you and your child.  Sharing a special meal together or scheduling a “field trip” to a museum, mall, or sports event can help redirect your mind and your child’s mind away from future scan results and toward present, happy moments that you share together.  Creating joyful and meaningful memories before the follow-up scan may later serve as a focus and source of comfort to ease worry and fear during the actual imaging process.  Reminding yourself and your child to smile periodically in the face of tension and stress can itself also have powerful calming effects.

Practice Mindful Awareness:  Despite your best efforts to refocus your thoughts from negative to positive ones, and to lighten your mood through laughter and creating happy memories, “scanxiety” may still take hold – in the waiting room, during the scan, or any time before or after the appointment.  When managing your worry or racing thoughts becomes overwhelming, practicing mindful awareness by centering your attention on breathing exercises (taking slow, deep breaths while closing your eyes, relaxing your muscles, and centering your thoughts on how inhaling and exhaling feels) can help shift your attentional focus away from future test results and toward your own control of physical experiences and sensations.  Centering your attention on those things within your control, including your awareness of your own breathing and intentional muscle relaxation, can help you to regain a sense of calm in the midst of potentially difficult circumstances.

Create an Action Plan:  Create an action plan with your son or daughter to manage possible anxiety surrounding a scan.  Talk about your worries and fears ahead of time, and agree together on a plan to reduce stress.  The plan may include practicing healthy habits, like eating and sleeping well in the days leading up to the appointment, as well as specific plans when anxiety may become prominent.  You and your child may want to decide in advance what kinds of happy memories to focus on while in the waiting room, what prayers you may want to say, or how you will refocus attention away from automatic negative thoughts and toward positive ones.  You may want to practice deep breathing exercises and mindful awareness of your physical state prior to the appointment so that you have a go-to tool for calming yourself and keeping anxiety at bay.  Having a plan of what to do in the face of stress will help you and your child feel prepared if you experience expected, or unexpected, “scanxiety.”

 

Rebecca L. Marshall, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and staff therapist at The Summit Counseling Center in Johns Creek, GA.  She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Division of Pediatrics, Children’s Cancer Hospital, 2000-2002), and has over 15 years of clinical and research experience working with children and adolescents, and their parents.    

Can You Beat Bailey?

Can you Beat Bailey?

Most of the time Bailey looks like a typical sixteen-year-old. She wears a constant smile that radiates the joy of a happy, contented girl pushing through the 10th grade with the world ahead of her. What you wouldn’t see are the scars from what is behind her. Unless she takes off her leg, that is.

While it sounds like a dramatic effect, Bailey often uses her prosthetic leg as a prop to make people laugh.

“One time I walked up to my teacher and asked her to help me tie my shoe. When she started, I acted like it hurt and told her she was tying it too tight,” laughed Bailey. “She pulled her hands away and started to apologize. But she thought it was pretty funny once she figured out it was my fake leg.”

Consider Bailey’s text from a recent flight:

It hasn’t always been that way. In 2012, 10-year-old Bailey was playing softball, tennis, and basketball. So when she complained of knee pain, her parents chalked it up to a sports injury because she was so active. But as the pain persisted, they took her to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that starts at the end of a growth bone. She began chemotherapy to shrink the tumor immediately. As she progressed through that, she and her family had a decision to make regarding phase two of her treatment: surgery.

The first option was limb salvage, where bones would be replaced and reinforced with metal. This would leave her unable to run.

The second choice was amputation above the knee.

The third option and the one they would ultimately choose was rotationplasty – a unique surgery where the knee is removed and the ankle is rotated and reattached to the thigh to serve as a knee. Once fitted with a prosthetic, this new “knee” would offer the widest range of motion. In her light-hearted way, Bailey calls it her kenankle.

“I really didn’t have to think about it,” Bailey recalls. “Rotationplasty was the only way I could run and play sports again. So that’s what we did.”

And she’s done her share of running since then. But these days, she rolls a lot, too. Bailey began playing wheelchair basketball as a way to keep her competitive fire burning. As it turns out, she’s pretty good. So good that she went to the U.S. development camp in Colorado Springs last year where the coach noticed her skills and suggested that she apply to participate in the U.S. Women’s section camp. After a few grueling sessions, she was selected to be part of the USA National Team that will compete in the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Hamburg, Germany this August.

 

Bailey is the second-youngest player on the team.

“This is pretty overwhelming,” Bailey said. “It’s been incredible, but I’m still processing all of this.”

Right now, life is somewhat overwhelming for the sophomore at Providence Christian Academy. She keeps a full schedule between school, basketball, theatre, church, and training. She likes to speak too. Bailey is as comfortable in front of a microphone as she is on the court and she tells her cancer story as often as possible to try to make an impact.

“I just want people to know that childhood cancer isn’t rare,” Bailey explained. “Every school has someone who is either going through treatment, has survived it, or didn’t make it there. We need to step up and do better for kids.”

Bailey has overcome many challenges to get where she is, and she is thriving. You would never know it to talk to this mild-mannered young lady, but she is also incredibly competitive. Today she has a challenge for you:

“I’m going to win CURE Madness… Think you can beat me?”

Can you beat Bailey? CURE Madness is an office pool that benefits kids. Your $25 entry fee gives you the chance to win $250. With this pool, kids always win because the entry fees go toward childhood cancer research to discover better cures for kids like Bailey. You’re going to play anyway… Why not make it matter?

Click here to sign up:

 

 

 

Coffee Served with a Purpose

There’s a new coffee shop in town – but it isn’t like the ones you know. Of course it will have strong coffee, pastries, and plenty of hand-crafted, decadent beverages more worthy of a desert plate than a ceramic mug. But the concept of this coffeehouse centers more around community than caffeine. It’s an idea that germinated in the owner’s mind during a yoga session and it is soon to spring to life.

Jalynn Barr is a young lady passionate about her family, her community, her work, and causes that help other people. The cause that motivates her the most is childhood cancer. She serves on the Young Professional Leadership Council for CURE Childhood Cancer and has been a driving force in bringing others into the fight for children with cancer.

“As a mother, I can’t imagine having one of my daughters in treatment,” Jalynn explained. “When I found out how little money goes to childhood cancer research, I knew I had to get involved.”

Jalynn has been in the foodservice business her entire career and loves dealing with people. About a year ago, she started feeling an itch to get out on her own. While in a 40-day yoga challenge, a question kept coming to mind, “Is there a way I can make a career out of something I love that also benefits this group that I’m so passionate about?”

It was then that the idea for Community Cup was born. The location she chose is just off the square in downtown Cumming, where there is plenty of both driving and foot traffic. The menu will be strong on coffee, but will also serve fun things for children such as drinks with edible glitter and other items designed to create a family atmosphere.

The goal is to use her talents and passions to be a positive force in the community. By buying the baked goods from a local bakery and the coffee from a nearby roaster, Community Cup will pour first into its neighbors. But it will also weave itself into the fabric of the city by working with local schools, non-profits, and civic groups to help them raise funds for their efforts. And a portion of the shop’s daily proceeds will be given back to CURE to benefit those children with cancer that Jalynn loves so much.

“I really think we have a chance to make a huge difference,” she said excitedly. “First in Cumming, but through our partnership with CURE, all over.”

Permitted to dream, Jalynn wouldn’t turn down the chance to have a Community Cup on every street corner in the country. But her true goals are much more grounded: operate a successful business, spend quality time with her family, be happy in her work, and make a positive impact on her community. If she can stay centered on those things, she’ll count it worthwhile.

Community Cup hopes to serve its first customers in late March.

There is another event in late March that Jalynn is excited about. The YPLC is hosting the 2nd annual Spring Fever event and you’re invited. On March 23 at the Stave Room at American Spirit Works, you can enjoy live music from local favorite Crane, delicious food, and hand-crafted cocktails for just $75 with the proceeds benefiting CURE. Last year sold out early, so get your tickets today!

 

 

 

 

“Something that Shouldn’t be There”

In the summer of 2015, three-year-old Ava began complaining of lower back pain. After being sent home from daycare on several occasions and multiple inconclusive trips to the pediatrician, Ava’s mother, Julie knew that something had to be wrong. One Sunday after Ava began crying and complaining about her back, Julie took her to the emergency room. An ultrasound immediately revealed what the technician said was, “something that shouldn’t be there.”

That something turned out to be a tumor the size of a man’s fist on Ava’s right adrenal gland. After waiting anxiously for several days for biopsy results, the doctor came back with a diagnosis of stage three, high-risk neuroblastoma.

“I fell apart,” Julie recalls. “The idea of cancer never entered my mind. I always thought of cancer as something that old people get, not kids.”

Ava’s treatment plan was overwhelming: chemotherapy to shrink the tumor followed by surgery to remove the remainder of the tumor along with the adrenal gland to which it was attached. This was to be followed by more chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, radiation, and finally, immunotherapy.

“We were so thankful that the tumor responded to the chemo and the doctors were able to remove it before it invaded any of Ava’s other organs,” Julie said.

Ava lost her hair and became thin but never really minded being bald. Her mother says that Ava took everything in stride and always had a good attitude. She remembers the stem cell transplants as the worst part of the treatment.

“Ava was so sick each time and the room would start to feel like a prison,” she said.

Ava completed her treatment in October 2016. Now five years old, she will start kindergarten in the fall. She gets scans regularly and is enrolled in a clinical trial designed to prevent relapse.

“Ava will never truly be free from cancer,” Julie says. “The treatment they gave her to kill the neuroblastoma has affected her teeth and could have affected her body in many other ways that we won’t know about until she gets older.”

But for now, Ava gets to be a kid again and return to her favorite pursuits: singing, dancing, and all things creative. She plans on becoming a ballerina when she grows up. Through this experience, her family has learned just how precious life is.

“We are so fortunate,” Julie says. “We saw other parents lose their children to this disease. We have always enjoyed spending time together as a family, but cancer showed us how fragile life is and now we make each moment count because of it.”

 

 

Cooking Along

There aren’t many eleven-year-old boys who love to watch cooking shows and help mom when she cooks. Fewer still could recognize celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay. But Adeshino (Kaleb) isn’t your typical boy, and after what he’s been through, he can watch whatever he would like.

At the tender age of five, Kaleb began experiencing back pain. His mother, Adeyinka, remembers taking him to the doctor several times over the next year.

“The pain wasn’t normal, and the doctor found trace amounts of blood in his urine a few times,” she said. “He wasn’t worried, though. He just thought Kaleb had a urinary tract infection and treated him with antibiotics.”

But as Kaleb got older, his symptoms persisted until finally Adeyinka took Kaleb to the emergency room where an ultrasound was performed. Before she got home, she received a call telling her to turn around and come back to the hospital. It was there doctors told her that seven-year-old Kaleb had cancer.

Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT) is an aggressive and rare cancer which primarily occurs as a mass in the abdomen. Kaleb’s tumor was attached to one of his kidneys. The first step was to remove the tumor and along with it, his kidney. The surgery was followed by a year of chemotherapy which caused a dramatic transformation in Kaleb.

“It took a long time to figure out how to keep him eating. He was so sick that his weight got below fifty pounds,” Adeyinka explained. “One scary night, he was barely responsive and couldn’t walk, so I took him to the clinic. I had to carry him to the car, and I had to wheel him into the hospital in a wagon. In the room, they gave him fluids and revived him. I thought I was going to lose him.”

Once he began eating and gaining weight, Kaleb finished chemo and moved on to radiation until his treatment for DSRCT was finished. But cancer wasn’t through with him yet. Doctors had warned Adeyinka there was a five percent chance he could get leukemia from his original treatment. Then, a follow-up scan revealed something on his lung. Although the likelihood of leukemia was slim, Adeyinka’s worst fears came true.  Adeyinka had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of leukemia, possibly a result of the chemo and radiation administered to save his life. Unfortunately, secondary cancers are not uncommon side effects of today’s treatments for childhood cancer.

Kaleb started treatment for AML in June of 2016 and had a bone marrow transplant in September. Once again, he lost weight and was forced to deal with mouth sores and other painful side effects. But he quickly went in to remission and now only has to have his blood levels monitored.

“He has good days and bad days,” his mother said. “He has had some digestive issues and leg pain that we are dealing with. I wish our story was different, but these are the cards we were dealt.”

Kaleb missed two years of school due to his treatment. But with a little hard work he will move to fifth grade next year. He enjoys video games, The Walking Dead, Ellen, and shows about criminal investigations. Kaleb is active, but he has to be cautious because of everything his body has been through. Of course, that doesn’t keep him from whipping up a mean stack of blueberry pancakes. And he isn’t afraid of Gordon Ramsay, either. After all, he beat cancer twice and has been cooking along ever since.

The Incurable Curse

by Kyle Klerk

 

Kyle knows all about living with what he calls, “The Incurable Curse.” A childhood cancer survivor, Kyle is in the sixth grade and wrote this piece as an essay assignment. His work earned first place in his school and is an illuminating look into what today’s cancer treatment looks like from a child’s perspective.

 

Slowly sneaking, creeping through you, silent, deadly, changing, transforming cells multiplying, and growing at an alarming rate, all happening inside, the conflict begins without a clue, without your knowing.

All of a sudden, one day, one moment in time everything changes, the words are spoken in quiet tones  but it seems like a shout to my ears, it becomes life impacting, extracting your freedom, strong bonds tying you to your bed, holding you down,chaining you to a metal pole of poison.

Mysterious figures, clothed and protected in suits of plastic, gloves of rubber, hanging bags of neon liquid dread, connecting you by a tube, poison dripping through a needle into your veins, controlling all you do, imprisoned, ruled by time and beeps.

What choice do I have? Lay my head down? Give up?  Never! Into the fray, fighting for what seems impossible! The Curse has struck; nausea and pain are my constant companions, the toxic medicine drains my energy, keeps me isolated, leaving my body open to other attacks.

They keep me here in this place to make me better, to give me life, though I’ve realized the struggle will never truly end, it has begun a lifetime of torture, mental and physical, an eternity of fighting, struggling against the effects of the supposed cure, grasping for life, for one more day as a regular kid.

Constantly receiving summons to appear before the medical tribunal, always more radiation, more tests and needles, more blood loss, I never will be the same, always wondering, pondering, what will the verdict be? Will this keep Incurable Curse of Cancer Away? Will another rival come to takes its place?

 

I am one of the Warriors, there are more of us than you can imagine! Why us? No one knows the answer. We are knights putting on our armor, bald heads going to war, strength and courage found in the smile on our faces, never letting the enemy steal the light of joy in our eyes, our war cry a laugh in the face of fear.

Many Allies have succumbed to this curse, lives fall every day, my heart aches with agony, I miss them terribly, but deep inside is the knowledge that others are also in the battle, experts, armies, continuing to work for a solution, a permanent antidote, waving the banner high, a golden ribbon, and I have hope, Hope that a true Cure for Childhood Cancer is within reach!

 

 

 

CURE-funded study removes a major stumbling block to stem cell transplants

Children with certain types of cancer receive bone marrow transplants as part of their life-saving treatment. Bone marrow transplants carry many risks and can be wrought with complications. The most serious risk and leading cause of mortality is acute graft versus host disease (GvHD). GvHD can be a deadly complication and unfortunately, it is very common. About half of all bone marrow transplant patients develop this complication, which occurs when the newly transplanted materials, or graft cells, form pathogenic Tcells which attack the recipient’s body.

In 2010, Dr. Leslie Kean, then the Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, launched a phase 1 clinical trial to test a new agent called Abatacept. She believed that in order to prevent GvHD, Tcells need to be treated and changed so they do not attack the recipient’s body. Dr. Kean theorized that Abatacept would decrease the risk of acute GvHD while not increasing the risk of infection. CURE agreed to the merit of the trial and funded the phase 1 study.

“The money from CURE is absolutely essential to preventing and treating GvHD,” said Kean.

Because of CURE ’s grant, Kean was able to test her research on humans for the very first time. For Kean, who started this research ten years ago, it was rewarding “to watch an idea blossom into something greater that can help thousands of children.”

The phase 1 Abatacept clinical trial began with five leukemia patients, all over the age of twelve and in need of a bone marrow transplant. Patients received the drug during the transplant, after which Kean and her team ran tests to determine the effectiveness of Abatacept in preventing acute GvHD.

The data was so promising that Dr. Kean continued with a larger, phase 2 clinical trial. When the drug was used in addition to standard GvHD treatment, it reduced the occurrence of acute GvHD from 32 to 3 percent. The group who received Abatacept alongside their normal treatment experienced increased survival and recovery.

The results from this Phase 2 study are so promising that Dr. Kean is working with the company that makes the drug, Bristol Myers Squibb, to file a “breakthrough therapy” application with the FDA. The breakthrough designation seeks to expedite the review and approval process for promising drugs, allowing them to get to the bedside quicker.

Dr. Kean explains, “As a transplant physician, it’s beyond heartbreaking to witness a patient develop severe acute graft-versus-host disease after having their leukemia cured through bone marrow transplant. To have a therapy at our disposal that safely targets just the Tcells causing graft-versus-host disease represents a major step forward in stem cell transplantation. It not only offers new hope that we can prevent graft-versus-host disease upfront, but that we can also significantly improve outcomes for patients requiring high-risk transplants.”

 

 

Source: https://futurism.com/immunotherapy-drug-proven-successful-against-serious-stem-cell-transplant-complication/

 

 

 

CURE donors gave Hope for the Holidays

As we look back over the holidays, our hearts are full. You did so much to ease the burden of families fighting childhood cancer. It is with great pride that we share how you supported so many children and families with your generous giving.

Through CURE’s Holiday Angels program, you provided holiday gifts to 115 families who are not only battling childhood cancer in a medical fight, they are squared up against it financially as well. That means more than 300 children received gifts and special holiday meals who may not have otherwise had much holiday joy. Parents were overwhelmed by the toys, bikes, games, and baby dolls we loaded into their cars, sometimes shedding tears and almost always giving hugs.

 

Here are just two notes of thanks we received:

I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to you and the family that helped make this year’s Christmas so special. The kids are going to be thrilled when they see those presents under the tree. We couldn’t be more humbled by the generosity of CURE. I’m sure so many other families will feel extra blessed as we did this Christmas.”

 

I am very grateful for all the Christmas gifts. It was so much and not expected. CURE has made this Christmas so wonderful and not so stressful financially.”

 

 

With your help, we were able to treat 130 families to incredible holiday parties in Atlanta and Savannah, providing a festive break from the worries of treatment. From gingerbread houses, crafts, and special snacks to a visit with Santa, children had an incredible afternoon.

You also provided food for more than 1000 hospitalized patients, family members, and staff throughout the month of December through our Open Arms Meal Program. Additionally, thanks to Church’s Chicken, we served special holiday meals to approximately 75 hospitalized children and family members on Christmas Eve.

 

And you gave. We are thankful for every gift – whether big or small – because each one tells us that you believe in what we are doing for children.

We truly appreciate your holiday spirit and all that you allowed us to do for these incredible children and their families devastated by a childhood cancer diagnosis. Without your support, many would be fighting alone. But together, we are making a difference – not just in December, but all year long.

 

 

Inspiration from Kristin Connor

Dear friends,

Inspired. Almost every day I learn something or hear something or see something that just leaves me feeling inspired. I’m going to wear out that word, I use it so often. But I can’t think of any other way to describe the emotions I constantly feel.

Serving as the Executive Director of CURE Childhood Cancer is such an incredible privilege. Every day I meet people who leave me feeling completely inspired. Sometimes it’s a patient like Ansley, featured in our Spotlight article, who maintains faith and resolve in the face of a relentless disease, or a parent who writes Caringbridge updates that leave me staring at my computer screen wondering where the wisdom and perspective come from. Or it’s a nurse who has devoted 19 years to expertly caring for and loving cancer’s youngest patients – or a board member who so loves serving CURE that he can’t wait for the next meeting, despite his demanding “real job.” Sometimes the inspiration is in a volunteer who spends hours in our office each month sorting and labeling and keeping us organized because she knows that will enable us to spend more of our time serving families, or it’s in a CURE staff member who is fueled to do whatever is needed by genuine passion for the mission and purpose of the organization.

Sometimes the inspiration is a team of doctors who, with brilliance and compassion, are working to find better, more effective ways to treat children with cancer. Are you familiar with precision medicine? This is an emerging approach for disease treatment that takes into account the individual variability in the genes of each patient. We believe precision medicine offers tremendous hope for more effectively treating childhood cancer, and we are investing significant resources – $4.5 million – in ensuring children have this available to them. With our funds, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is launching the Aflac Cancer Center Precision Medicine Program. We believe this will be a game changer for hundreds and eventually thousands of children with cancer across the nation as knowledge is developed and individualized, non-toxic, curative treatments are developed.

As I write this letter, it happens to be the 16th anniversary of the day my son was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, today he is a healthy and active teenager. But in the years since his diagnosis, it has been my strong desire to make some kind of difference in the fight against childhood cancer. CURE has been doing that with research support in the tens of millions of dollars. That research has been important and impactful.

But my level of inspiration has reached new heights with the decision to fully fund a new Precision Medicine program. In doing so, we are bringing new treatment possibilities to so many kids with otherwise dismal prognosis. This is hope! And while it will take time to reach its full potential, the first and biggest step has been taken. Precision medicine will be a reality at the Aflac Cancer Center because of CURE and the incredible team of doctors doing the hard and highly complex work.

Thank you for letting me share my inspiration. I hope you will be inspired to join our efforts.

Warmly,

Kristin