Floor Statement Introducing the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act
MR REED: Mr. President, I join my colleague, Senator Coleman, in introducing the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. I would also like to recognize Senators Talent, Isakson, Cochran, Bunning, Murkowski, Lieberman, Carper, Landrieu, and Lautenberg who have all joined as original cosponsors of the bill. This bipartisan legislation seeks to achieve several important goals in our battle against childhood cancer. Specifically, it will expand support for pediatric cancer research, foster the career development of more pediatric oncologists, and provide essential information and support to help families deal with this devastating disease. Childhood cancer impacts thousands of children and their families each year. While we have made great steps in treating cancer, we have made relatively little progress in advancing our understanding of the most common forms of pediatric cancer. This legislation will help to provide resources to hopefully one day find a cure. Each year, more than 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer, and more than 2,000 of them lose their courageous battle with the disease. Pediatric cancer not only takes a toll on the child, it affects the entire family--the parents, siblings, friends, and extended family all suffer when a child has cancer. I have had the honor of meeting one such family from Warwick, Rhode Island who has taken the pain and devastation of losing their young son to neuroblastoma, a very aggressive childhood cancer, and turned their tragedy into a message of hope. The Haight family is committed, in memory of their nine year old son Ben, to education, advocacy, and lending support to other families going through a similar struggle with pediatric cancer. I never had a chance to meet Ben Haight but his mother Nancy has told me of his tremendous strength and courage. Ben fought every day during his four and a half year battle with this disease and his tragic story highlights the importance of this legislation. It is my hope that the bill we are introducing today will help to step up our efforts with regard to childhood cancer so that one day Ben's story, and thousands of other children like him, will be one of survival. In Rhode Island alone, a dozen children each year succumb to various forms of childhood cancer. Each of these children had hopes, dreams, and desires that will never be fulfilled and one cannot quantify the impact each of these children could have had on their communities and on society as a whole. We need to be doing more to give these children a chance to grow up and reach their full potential. The Conquer Childhood Cancer Act will enhance federal efforts in the fight against childhood cancer and will also complement the incredible work of private organizations dedicated to the prevention and cure of pediatric cancer. I would like to commend the CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation for its work in this area. CureSearch brings together academic and research institutions, medical professionals with expertise in pediatric cancer, and children and families afflicted with the disease, to form a national network committed to research, treatment, and cures for childhood cancer. Thank you, Mr. President. I look forward to working with my colleagues toward swift passage of this important legislation.