5 A New Chapter in Our Lives
Before entering the world of childhood cancer, we were a “normal” family with 3 “normal” children. Whenever commercials came on TV featuring bald children, I would turn the channel. It hurt too much to watch.
On February 2, 2008, our normal world was sent into a black hole. That is the day our youngest daughter, Kate, then 4 years old, was diagnosed with
leukemia. As we rode the ambulance to the nearest
hospital that treats childhood cancer,
I looked out the back window. As the road slipped away, I knew our life was never going to be the same.
We allowed Kate to be placed in a COG research study hoping any discoveries made would enhance treatment of the children diagnosed in the future and because we knew the survival rates have increased from previous parents allowing their children to be placed in research studies. Even at 80% survival rate, that is still 1 out of 5. As a parent sitting in the oncologist’s office with 4 other families, I know one of our children will die. That’s hard to accept. I’m grateful for advances made, but know there is still far to go.
Kate continues to excel in 2nd grade. She finished 28 months of chemo on Memorial Day of this year. She remembers little, while I will forever bear the scar childhood cancer has left on my heart and soul.
We are ready to write a new chapter in our family’s journey. I will graduate from nursing school in May 2011. I hope to one day give families the strength to go forward, just like my daughter’s nurses did for me. Thank you CureSearch for all that you do!
Mary Whilock Prokop
The Shark Shootout Benefits CureSearch for 21 Years
In 2009, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer was once again the primary beneficiary of The Shark Shootout, hosted by World Golf Hall of Fame Member and
Honorary CureSearch Board Trustee, Greg Norman. This annual event, at which 24 professional golfers compete in a two-day Pro Am followed by a one-of-a-kind three- day competition in Naples, FL, highlights excellence and achievement on the golf course while raising money to help cure children’s cancer.
As part of the tournament, 20 year-old Sebastian Gillen, a survivor of stage IV neuroblastoma, shared his personal story with the participants at the awards dinner. Sebastian’s speech was so well received that portions of it aired on national television for several days.
Since its inception, The Shark Shootout has raised more than $10 million to benefit children’s cancer research.
Photo by Michael O’Bryon
Morgan Norman, Sebastian Gillen and his mother Franche Carlson, along with Greg Norman and John Lehr, President and CEO of CureSearch, at the 2009 Shark Shootout.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of childhood cancer. Through clinical trials and linked laboratory research studies, we have made great strides in treating ALL over the past decade. Highlights include:
• The 5-year survival rate for children enrolled in ALL trials in 2000-2005 is over 90%; we expect it to be even higher for those diagnosed from 2006-2010.
• Adding imatinib, a drug targeted at the molecular abnormalities produced by the Philadelphia chromosome, to chemotherapy more than doubled the cure rate for Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL.
• Adolescents and young adults 16-21 years of age, treated on COG protocols have almost doubled the
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