September Is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and As KCCP Chair I asked PNW District Kiwanis Clubs to support September as “KIWANIS CHILDREN’S CANCER MONTH”.  Clubs are asked to have a program about their regional Hospital’s Fellowship Program and have at least one fund raising event.  Clubs can also ask the mayors of their towns to issue a proclamation recognizing September as “Kiwanis Children’s Cancer Month”.  Many clubs have already stepped up and have used this format to gain recognition of our fund raising efforts for our 3 hospitals.

At the District Convention Tom Wing, President of KDCCP, organized an hour-long forum. Attendance was good and the room was full. I would like to review and reiterate the message that was presented by the program. The presentation featured two fellows:  Doctor Bjorn Baadjes from BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver B.C., and Doctor Adam Lamble from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Portland, Oregon.

The forum was about becoming involved in the fight against childhood cancer. It began by asking those in the audience two fundamental questions:

First: Is it acceptable that any child gets cancer?
Second: If not, what are YOU going to do about it?

As KCCP Chair, I am here to suggest that you can get into the fight with a reasonably good chance of having an impact on the cure of childhood cancer. Just imagine what that would be like.

Tremendous strides have been made in the past forty years toward the cure of the most common childhood cancers, leukemia and brain tumors. Survival rates are up from 50% to 90% in some cases. One type of leukemia has been totally wiped out. New therapies and more clinical trials are increasing the pace of progress. Yet, the doctors are not satisfied talking about a cure. They are talking about preventing cancer in children. Imagine that. In the future, when a child is born, it will be immunized from contracting cancer. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in this fight.

You can BE in the fight by supporting KCCP, Kiwanis Children’s Cancer Program. In a nutshell this is a PNW District supported program that raises funds for three different Hematology/Oncology fellowship programs at three different regional children’s hospitals. The hospitals specialize in childhood cancer treatment and research. The doctors who benefit the fellowship programs become children’s cancer specialist and they join other hospitals and laboratories around the country where they conduct cutting edge research, treat patients and train other doctors.

As Dr. Evan Shereck, the Director of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at Doernbecher says:

“When one supports the fellows, they are actually making a huge investment in the care of children with cancer. For every fellow we train, they will go on to train many more fellows who will also go on to perform important research and care for patients. Therefore, the investment in one fellow will increase exponentially with a global reach for children with cancer.”

Each regional hospital’s fellowship program is supported by a Kiwanis organization made up of Kiwanis volunteers. For example:

  • The Pacific Northwest Children’s Cancer Society – supporting BC Children’s.
  • Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program – supporting Doernbecher Children’s
  • The Seattle Children’s Cancer Program – supporting Seattle Children’s

The non-profit organizations are run by boards of directors and have committees that run fundraisers and provide resources like speaker’s bureaus. While these three organizations operate independently from one another within their own geographic jurisdictions, they are affiliated under the auspices of the KCCP District Chair.

The non-profit organizations are very busy in their geographic trade areas enticing as many people and organizations as possible to donate to their fund raisers. Their resources are often strained and request of those resources to do more and more and more for the benefit of the fellowship programs, sometimes must be declined.

This is where the KCCP Chair and you come in (presuming you are not on one of the boards of the non-profits).

The KCCP Chair is (I am) looking for you, the person who can influence your club members and others to work on behalf of the children’s hospital fellowship program in your area.  Maybe you can convince your club to give $50 per member per year to the KCCP organization in your area. Maybe you can suggest that happy dollar collections go to KCCP. Maybe you have an idea for a fund raiser that will bring in new money. KCCP needs you to convince your club to undertake a fund raiser to put another nail in childhood cancer coffin. Maybe you can convince your club to do all of these things.

If you are a Key Club advisor, you may know that the Key Club Governor, Juliet Yu’s, Governor’s Project for next year is to raise $75,000 for Kiwanis Children’s Cancer Program.You can help the Key Clubs you advise participate in the overall effort by the PNW District Key Clubs to raise $75,000 for KCCP. Maybe with your effort they can exceed that amount.

There may be boards and/or committee member positions open at one or more of the non-profit organizations. Your passion for eradicating childhood cancer and proven skills in areas like fund raising, public speaking, creating electronic newsletters, managing/maintaining and creating websites and social media sites, conducting marketing campaigns, experience with creating advertising and obtaining publicity among other things would probably make you a desirable candidate. You should talk to the president or another officer of the organization, in your area about applying for a seat at the table.

Let’s reflect on those two questions again.

First: Is it acceptable that any child gets cancer?
Second: If not, what are YOU going to do about it?

If you are a Kiwanian, you can support KCCP. I hope you do.

For more information contact Frank Morehouse at: frank.beth@comcast.net

Cancer Landmark Achieved

SEATTLE — Seattle Children’s Hospital made a landmark announcement Wednesday — the first leukemia patient in the state to try a new cancer therapy is disease free.

On July 10, 2013 Seattle Children’s announced a significant breakthrough in the fight against children’s cancer. A young woman from Bellingham WA. who has been fighting Leukemia for many years is cancer free.

Lynsie Conradi was in her third reoccurrence of Leukemia in her young 23 years. The Leukemia was resistant to Chemo and Radiation leaving Lynsie with a 20% chance of survival. Because of the research done at Seattle Children’s with T-Cell therapy Lynsie is cancer free.

T-Cells are removed from the patient’s body and reprogrammed and placed back in the body. The T-Cells then seek out and destroy the cancer cells, think of Pac Man. After reintroduction of Lynsie’s T-Cells Doctors rechecked her bone marrow 7 days later and found no trace of cancer.

Lynsie is the first patient in Washington to participate in the Phase 1 trials at Seattle Children’s. Dr. Rebecca Gardner is the lead researcher for this trial. Dr. Gardner is a Hematology/Oncology specialist at the Ben Towne research center at Seattle Children’s, she also participated in the Fellowship program at Seattle Children’s.

Kiwanis Children’s Cancer Program, KCCP, is raising money to fund Fellowships at three Pacific Northwest Hospitals, KDCCP at Doernbecher in Portland Oregon, KCCP Seattle Children’s Hospital and KCCP BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver Canada. Our goal is to fund three fellows at each hospital. As of fiscal year 2012 we have raised over $600,000 between the 3 groups!!

The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship program at Seattle Children’s was established in 1969. Fellows receive training and experience in both basic research and clinical research throughout the three years of training. Each fellow has an individualized research program. The available programs at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and Children’s represent a wide variety of research opportunities. Research projects are tailored to meet the needs of individual fellows depending on their interests, previous training and experience. Dr.’s at Doernbecher and at BC Children’s hospital are also part of this clinical trial and are well on their way to their own breakthroughs with this exciting new treatment.

This is what we are working for, a cure for children’s cancer. This is a first step and we should be proud that KCCP has a part, all be it very small, and we should be encouraged that the program is working and we are on our way to a cure.
With our continued efforts KCCP will continue to raise money to fund fellows at all three hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. These fellows will continue the research started by Dr. Rebecca Gardner and Dr. Michael Jensen and many others. Maybe we will see KCCP in the next breakthrough announcements at one of the three hospitals.

One Disease with Different Faces

A disease caused by bone marrow transplants has at least two distinctive molecular forms, each of which might need a different treatment approach, researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) have discovered. Led by post-doctoral fellow Dr. Jacob Rozmus, research like this shows the importance of funding fellowship positions at CFRI, which is located on the BC Children’s Hospital site.

image002Donor blood and bone marrow transplantation is a key treatment for blood-related cancers. However, in a quarter of children who receive donated bone marrow, the donor immune cells attack the recipient’s tissues, resulting in a debilitating disease called chronic graft-versus-host-disease (cGVHD). cGVHD is the number one cause of transplantation-related illness, and kills one-in-five children within 15 years of its onset.

“We’ve found evidence that there may be different pathological mechanisms responsible for chronic GVHD depending on when the disease presents after bone marrow transplantation,” says Dr. Jacob Rozmus, who is also an oncologist at BC Children’s Hospital.

Previous research at CFRI under Dr. Kirk Schultz, Dr. Rozmus’ supervisor, has revealed that there are two distinct periods of cGVHD onset — within three to eight months of transplantation, and after nine months. It’s also known that, after the use of immunosuppressant medication, a transplant patient’s immune system reconstitutes itself in gradual steps.

image004Dr. Rozmus’ study explored whether it was possible to see the cGVHD differences over time reflected in small proteins called cytokines that play a critical role in cell communication. The researchers examined the cytokine profiles of 33 early onset and 11 late onset cGVHD patients, all of whom were part of the Children’s Oncology Group phase III trial for cGVHD treatment.

“Despite our small number of patients, we found significantly different cytokine patterns between the early and late onset cGVHD groups,” says Dr. Rozmus. While he says the results require validation in a larger study, they reveal the potential power of cytokine profiles as an accurate molecular marker for treating children with cGVHD.

“Cytokines could potentially be used to diagnose cGVHD and help clinicians choose the best course of therapy,” says Dr. Schultz, director of Childhood Cancer and Blood Research at BC Children’s Hospital and CFRI, in whose lab the current work was done.

The Kiwanis Children’s Cancer Program (KCCP), which will support research like this through the oncology fellowship program at BC Children’s Hospital, will play an important role in the future of children’s health. By supporting the leading-edge research that brings scientists and clinicians together to solve the mysteries of childhood diseases, Kiwanis Clubs of British Columbia /Yukon, the Kiwanis family and the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada is helping to improve the lives of children living with cancer, and their families, throughout the region.

Please contact Darlene Smith at dar_smith@shaw.ca to get more details and tips on how your club can support BC Children’s Hospital and the fellowship program.