With Valley Children’s Hospital diagnosing nearly 150 new cases of pediatric cancer annually, a recent grant for its Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program will help identify the best ways to serve patients and improve outcomes.
The program was awarded a $50,000 grant from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, as part of the foundation’s $1.7 million distributed to hospitals around the country to treat more children in clinical trials.
“We are truly grateful for St. Baldrick’s continued support of our program,” said Dr. John Gates, pediatric hematologist/oncologist and director of the hospital’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program.
The program was established in 2009 and aims to promote healthy lifestyles in former cancer patients as they enter adulthood.
The program also advances research efforts to discover the most effective cancer treatments with the least amount of late effects on survivors.
St. Baldrick’s has donated more than $450,000 to Valley Children’s over the last nine years, according to hospital spokeswoman Zara Arboleda.
The hospital has one of the leading childhood cancer treatment centers on the West Coast and is the only provider of pediatric oncology services in the Central Valley.
Since its creation, the survivorship program has served more than 700 childhood cancer survivors.
“These funds will help us identify the best ways to serve our patients and improve outcomes,” said Gates.
According to doctors, the same treatments that cure cancer patients may put children at risk for long-term health problems. About two-thirds of survivors will experience at least one late effect, including physical, emotional and social issues that may require ongoing medical support. One out of four suffers a more serious or life-threatening late effect, such as heart problems or a second cancer diagnosis.
“Children deserve the very best, and that includes ensuring they continue to do well, long after their treatment here ends,” said Gates.
In 2018, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded more than $26 million.
Since 2005, the foundation has given more than $258 million to support the most promising childhood cancer research, no matter where it takes place.
“The majority of childhood cancer patients are treated on a clinical trial,” said Kathleen Ruddy, CEO of St. Baldrick’s. “Clinical trials offer children either the best-known treatment, or one that may prove to be better.”
The grants from St. Baldrick’s are awarded based on the need of the institution and its patients, anticipated results of the grant and local participation in St. Baldrick’s fundraising events and activities. These grants give institutions the resources they need to do more research.
“Funding from St. Baldrick’s will ensure more kids have access to clinical trials, giving them a better chance at a cure,” Ruddy said.