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Mother marches for pediatric cancer awareness

June 22, 2009|By ASHLEY REID

FUNKSTOWN -- The CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation is holding its ninth annual Reach the Day Rally on Capitol Hill this week and a Funkstown woman planned to be one of those marching to shine a spotlight on pediatric cancer.

Sabrina Gibson said she planned to attend the rally today and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., because she does not believe there is enough awareness of or attention paid to pediatric cancer research.

"They don't put enough focus on it," said Gibson, whose 9-year-old son has leukemia. "They would make more effort if it affected their own family."

CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising private funds for childhood cancer research for the Children's Oncology Group, a cooperative cancer research organization, according to the CureSearch Web site at www.curesearch.org.

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According to the Children's Oncology Group, cancer is the most common disease-related cause of death for those from ages 1 to 20.

CureSearch Children's Oncology Group is a network of more than 5,000 physicians, nurses and scientists whose collaboration, research and care have turned childhood cancer from a virtually incurable disease to one with a 78 percent cure rate, the Web site says.

Gibson said she believes current cancer research focuses more on adults than children, and thinks pediatric cancer cannot be treated in the same way as adult cancer.

Reach the Day allows families to share their personal stories with Congress to emphasize the importance of funding pediatric cancer research.

The Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act, passed in 2008, promises $30 million toward childhood cancer research, the Web site says.

Gibson said the hope is that rally participants will put a face on pediatric cancer.

Kate Shafer, director of advocacy for CureSearch, works with families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, bereaved families and social workers, and provides information about pediatric cancer and CureSearch.

Shafer said the Reach the Day program draws about 450 supporters each year. The rally offers numerous opportunities for participants.

"They become informed about current legislation and meet" with members of Congress, Shafer said.

She emphasized the importance of funding and its effects.

"Children should not be dying of cancer," Shafer said.

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