LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – It’s the leading cause of death in children in the United States-Cancer.
More than 10,000 children were diagnosed with cancer in the country in the last year alone according to the National Cancer Institute.
In his 2019 State of The Union address, President Trump announced that his administration wants to provide $500 million dollars to fund research to find a cure for childhood cancers.
“Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask Congress for $500 million over the next ten years to fund this life saving critical research,” said President Trump.
The National Cancer Institute said that money would be used for data sharing. Scientists would focus on sharing patients’ data to help them develop new ways to treat childhood cancers.
More funding for childhood cancer would impact the lives of the Heise family from Hokah, Minnesota. Natalie Heise and her son Justus are used to being in the hospital. The almost 10-year-old has been battling the disease for nearly half his life. After having stomach pains, doctors found a football-sized tumor in and around his left kidney.
He’s since had two major surgeries and is preparing for a stem cell transplant. He’s continuing chemotherapy treatments and has relapsed for a second time.
“It’s been hard to develop new drugs for kids because of the limited funding,” said Dr. Toni Peters, Cancer and Blood Disorders and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Gundersen Health System.
Currently only about 4-percent of all federal money for cancer research goes to pediatric cancer. “It steals kids. It steals their childhood,” said Natalie.
Cancer in kids is different than in adults. The drugs used for adults who have cancer aren’t always the best to use on children.
“Realistically since 1980, there’s only really been three new drugs that when they first were developed were directed towards childhood cancer. Most of the new drugs-there’s been hundreds of new drugs-that were developed during that time were for adults with cancer,” added Dr. Peters.
The cure rate for childhood cancer is 80%. Dr. Peters said that could be one reason why there hasn’t been a big push for funding.
For Natalie and her family, a cure would be life changing. “Whatever side you’re on, there isn’t anything that’s more important than a kid.”