Health

Forty-Four and Other Brutal Numbers Associated With Childhood Cancer

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Pediatric cancer is a lottery.

The moment we have children, they are entered into this lottery. No baby, child or adolescent is given a free pass. Age, sex, skin color, religion, financial status — none of these exempt your kid from the lottery.

Every day, 44 children in the U.S. draw a losing ticket. Every year, 16,000 children — from birth through age 19 — lose the lottery and begin an uphill struggle for survival.

Maybe we’re still allocating just four percent of the NCI’s multi-billion dollar budget to pediatric cancer research because we think we’re doing a good job.

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We’re not.

Maybe childhood cancer research gets such a small percentage of the pie because the people who sign off on the budget lack firsthand experience with losing this lottery. They haven’t had to look into the eyes of a pediatric oncologist who has run out of answers. They haven’t had to sit down, take their child into their arms, and explain that there is no medicine in this world that can save them.

Today, forty-four children in the United States will have their ticket called. These kids will be ripped from childhood and brought into the brutal world of cancer treatment.

Tomorrow, forty-four children in the United States will have their ticket called. It could be your niece, your cousin, your grandson, your child’s best friend. It could be your child.

If we continue to rely on only 4% of government funding, then our children will continue to suffer and die. If we assume pharmaceutical companies will discover the breakthrough therapies that can potentially save our children, we’ll wait forever . While pharmaceutical companies contribute about 60% of funding for drug development in adult cancers, they donate almost nothing to develop new cancer drugs for children.

Four percent is not enough. Make your voice heard. Write about it. Tweet about it (use the hashtag #morethan4). If you have a platform (I’m looking at you, Empire State Building), then use it to amplify our message. Our kids are worth more than four percent.

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