To honor being a decade out from living inside the pediatric cancer world, I want to mention a few notes of some happenings in cancer treatment.
Image #1: Preschool class photo.
Image #2: Medicine cabinet two months later, all of which I was required to administer daily, mostly to combat side effects of chemo. I spent 3 hours a day on this task alone.
Image #3: Four months later, no hair, holding the ever-faithful Buddy.
A cheer for a bill impacting childhood cancer survivors that has passed the House this week, called HR 3881: Childhood Cancer STAR Act. Now it goes to the Senate. Good luck.
The research arm of Seattle Children’s Hospital along with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (the folks that saved my kid) are having success with some groundbreaking targeted treatments under the umbrella Strong Against Cancer. Childhood cancer treatments specifically are severely underfunded EXCEPT by private donations, in part because the numbers mean there is little incentive to invest in new drugs. In fact, 10 years ago there had only been one single new pediatric cancer drug on the market since WWII. It’s how the same old drugs are administered that has been the biggest piece of improvement in survivorship. All the same, these drugs are barbaric and everyone agrees we need new approaches.
I’m all for learning about naturally occurring ways we can help ourselves, because I have personally met two women with completely different Stage IV cancers who have treated themselves with nutritional and alternate medicine combined with best-known mainstream healthcare and are currently thriving. But for every time I was told, “You should try such and such latest cure,” I do want people to understand parents would be in prison if they decide to treat a child with alternative means. Adults are able to make a different choice entirely for their own bodies. I also believe it’s more complex than nutritional hygiene or environment, because I have met children from families who were vegan, lived miles away from urban centers, on pure well water, who still got cancer.
You can also find a successful movement and book called The Truth About Cancer. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to this ancient companion of humanity. I have trouble jumping on the government conspiracy bandwagon because I really don’t think they are that coordinated, but I do agree big pharma reaps tremendous rewards from all sorts of illnesses, cancer among them. (Heck, my two asthma inhalers cost $300 a month, when the same drugs cost $5 in the UK). I DO wholeheartedly believe we can impact our own well-being by both mind training AND nutrition.
Now if we can avoid killing off our elephant partners on the planet, we might be led to one type of treatment, because it turns out elephants are one of the few animal species who do not get cancer. (They’re also incredibly emotionally intelligent and super smart and I will cry if they become part of the sixth great extinction in the next decade as some predict).
Then there’s Cancer Moonshot 2020, which is part of Joe Biden’s honoring his son Beau and aims to activate massive data coordination towards new treatments.
Something kind of very, extremely cool. The cancer thriver in my household was given the task in her biology class of studying a protein all year. She is choosing to study the RAS protein. One never knows from where the next cancer researcher will emerge. No pressure. She could choose to meditate in a cave or fall short on her goals, and I’d still be proud of her.
Should anyone care to learn about RAS proteins and way more info than most brains can absorb in 8 minutes, check out this video by educator Hank Green, brother of famous teen author, John Green.