Health Headlines: Lack of funding for childhood cancer research

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Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 7:54 AM CST
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HACKENSACK, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - The federal government has almost $7 billion earmarked for cancer research in this year’s budget. That’s the good news, but think about this...every year, only a small portion of that money goes to childhood cancer. What does that mean for the youngest patients, their families, and the doctors who care for them?

Fourteen-year-old Jaynalee Becerril was on her first-ever vacation to Orlando, when a nagging sore throat became unbearable.

Jaynalee says, “That whole week we were supposed to go to Disney, Universal, a whole bunch of wonderful, wonderful parks. But I never got to go,”

Jaynalee was hospitalized. Her bloodwork came back showing very low white blood cell counts.

Angela Maldonado says, “She has B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was very, very overwhelming.”

Jaynalee explains, “At first you cry a lot, like a lot like, a bucket full, like two million gallons full.”

Jaynalee was transferred to a hospital near her New Jersey home and began immediate cancer treatments.

But for Pediatric Oncologists, the federal dollars to support cutting-edge research aren’t always enough. Only four percent of the cancer research budget goes to kid’s cancer.

“There just really isn’t the funding that we need to conduct the research and find better treatments for our kids.” Explains Derek Hanson, MD Pediatric Oncologist Hackensack University Medical Center.

At major US Pediatric Cancer Centers, research is often largely funded by public and private fundraising.

At the Joseph M. Sanzari Pediatric Hospital, where Jaynalee gets treatment, Tackle Kids Cancer and a partnership with football great, Eli Manning, funds new clinical trials and programs to provide much-needed support to families like Jaynalee’s.

Jaynalee says “How I think is that god gave me this sickness knowing I can beat it.”

And go back to being a kid.

At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer Center, the Jimmy fund has raised millions since 1948. Tackle Kids Cancer has raised 20 million dollars since its inception in 2015. Doctor Hanson says the good news about pediatric cancer is that it is relatively rare. But as a result, federal funding is usually channeled to other more common adult cancers.

Contributors to this news report include Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson Videographer and Roque Correa, Editor.