Reed Joins Local Families in Promoting Childhood Cancer Research and Family Support Services
PROVIDENCE, RI - Flanked by local health officials and families who have struggled with childhood cancer, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), today called for expanding research programs aimed at preventing childhood cancer. To increase the emphasis on combating cancer, Reed authored the bipartisan Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007. This legislation would authorize $150 million over a five year period for childhood cancer research and increase services to patients and families affected by the disease. "Each year, over 12,000 American children are diagnosed with cancer and more than 2,000 end up succumbing to this devastating disease," stated Reed, a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "While we have made great advances in treating cancer, there is still much more to be done. The Conquer Childhood Cancer Act will deliver much needed hope and support to children and families battling cancer and more resources for vital pediatric cancer research programs." Reed was joined by Cindy Schwartz, MD, director of pediatric hematology/oncology at Hasbro Children's Hospital who stated, "Hasbro Children's Hospital provides care to almost all of the children in our community who are diagnosed with cancer. While we have made great strides in treating childhood cancer, there is still much more that can be done. Additional funding and a national research network will greatly assist us as we continue in our fight to treat childhood cancer and hopefully find a cure. We thank Senator Reed for his foresight to introduce this bill. His commitment and support will help us to bring research to new levels and ultimately help so many families in our region." Reed's legislation would encourage and expand support for pediatric cancer research by authorizing $20 million for the next five years for biomedical research programs at the National Cancer Institute. In addition, it would establish the Children's Cancer Research Networka population-based childhood cancer database to evaluate the incidence trends of childhood cancers and research into genetic causes of the disease. It would also establish a fellowship program to foster career development in clinical and translational research for pediatric oncologists early in their careers. Reed was also joined by local families whose children have battled pediatric cancer, including the family of Ben Haight of Warwick, Rhode Island, who sadly passed away from an aggressive form of childhood cancer in 2003. Ben's mother, Nancy Haight, stated, "No parent wants to think that their child may be diagnosed with cancer. When I was told that our son, Ben, had a mass in his abdomen, I thought "it can't be cancer; he's only 4 years old." Unfortunately, 2 days later, on February 14, 1999, my worst fears were confirmed; he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a very aggressive pediatric cancer. Ben fought so valiantly and with such spirit. It was inconceivable to us that a better treatment for this disease did not exist; and very little progress has been made since that day. Ben never let cancer interfere with living his life to the fullest, experiencing all the important things in a boy's life. Ben never complained. His courage and strength inspired us and many others. Though Ben ultimately lost his battle, we continue on, trying to bring attention to this problem. Our dream is that when our son, Nick, has children of his own, the diagnosis of cancer will no longer be as devastating as it is today. From the first time that we met with Senator Reed, he has been so supportive. His landmark legislation will go a long way in helping us to realize our dream. We cannot thank him enough for his support." "The heart-wrenching story of Ben Haight highlights the importance of this legislation. It is my hope that one day Ben's story, and thousands of other children like him, will be one of survival," stated Reed. "I thank the Haights and all of the many families who have struggled with this devastating disease for their commitment to helping the thousands of children facing childhood cancer. Their efforts are heroic and have increased public awareness and helped boost efforts to hopefully one day find a cure." In addition to providing support for childhood cancer research, Reed's bill would also help provide support for families and patients coping with childhood cancer by establishing a comprehensive online public information system which would be available to provide information on pediatric cancer and support services. "When a child is diagnosed with cancer, suddenly the whole family's life changes overnight. Often times, parents will have to quit their job to stay home and care for their child. This bill is designed to help more families find the best care possible and at the same time provide some comfort and needed research," concluded Reed.