St. Baldrick's: Children at War

Pediatric cancer is the worst kind of war. The enemy preys on children and the ability to mount a defense is limited or non-existent. There is hope - and you have the power to make a difference.

Children at War

-from John Accardo, father of Angel Jennifer Accardo

When a soldier dies on the battlefield we say "they made the ultimate sacrifice." Yet when cancer takes a child from us we say "they lost their battle." If a child is lucky enough to survive their cancer, we say "they kicked cancer's butt." The reality is that pediatric cancer is not win or lose, and children who die from cancer did not “lose” their battle; in most cases they didn’t have a chance. 

Pediatric cancer is the worst kind of war, where the enemy preys on children and the ability to mount a defense is limited or non-existent. Cancer is responsible for the deaths of more children than any other disease...period. Some pediatric cancers are treatable, but children that survive bear the scars of their battle with lifelong physical and cognitive impediments or worse; relapses that are often terminal.

Currently, one in five children diagnosed with cancer (actually 22%) will not survive 5 years and will become victims of this disease. By comparison; in World War II, 2% of American soldiers died in combat, 1.9% in Korea and 1.8% in Vietnam. Yes, pediatric cancer is a deadly war, one in which my daughter Jennifer made the ultimate sacrifice.

But there is hope; and you have the power to make a difference. Research into the causes of pediatric cancer, along with improvements in treatment regimens will turn the tide in this war. You might think, from the news media, that breakthroughs in cancer treatment are happening all the time. Yes, but these victories are largely for the treatment of adult cancers and are rarely beneficial in the treatment of children; as pediatric cancers are biologically different.

In-fact the FDA just recently approved a new treatment drug for pediatric cancer, it has been more than 20 years since the last one. Ironically both the new drug (Gleevec) and the older drug (Clofarabine) are both used in the treatment of Leukemia’s, the most common form of pediatric cancer. Many childhood cancers are rare and not fully understood. Treatments for these types have not advanced much and some are terminal at diagnosis.  How do we fix this?

Targeted research specifically for pediatric cancers is our best hope. Right now there is groundbreaking research taking place and studies of previously untreatable cancers. Your contributions to the St Baldrick’s foundation go directly to this research, the research institutions and the next generation of pediatric oncologists. In other words our best hope to find a cure and for less debilitating treatments. This year the St Baldrick’s foundation teamed-up with “Stand Up to Cancer” (SU2C) to form a pediatric “Dream team” focused on the most promising new research that will have the greatest impact on improving the long term prospects in this protracted war. You have the power to drive that engine of change and run pediatric cancer out of town through your support of St Baldrick’s and their mission to conquer pediatric cancer. Kids with cancer don’t want your pity, they are the toughest kids on the planet, but they can use your help. So please, sign up, volunteer, or just make a donation to your favorite “shavee”. 

For me, when the scientific community finally unlocks the secrets of the disease that took my Jennifer at such a young age, it will be a very bittersweet moment. I am driven to keep her memory and spirit burning bright by carrying-on the fight and raising awareness and by shaving my head for the 9th consecutive year. For the children fighting cancer now and in the future, their parents and parents yet to be; your donations mean everything and they will be eternally grateful for your support of lifesaving research. Make a difference!

View John's St. Baldrick's page at: http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/585369/2013

Meet the Accardo family here.

Friday 2/22, from 4-6pm, St. Baldrick's volunteers will be having a bake sale at Stop & Shop in Northport.


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