By: Christopher Davis | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2014
(L to R): Anabella Gonzalez, Corrie Maxwell, Delainey Maxwell, Bryson Maxwell and Barry Maxwell.
“Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children,” says Anabella Gonzalez, committee member for Tulsa CureSearch. “Every day 42 children are diagnosed with cancer. It’s much more common than people think.”
In print, the number “42” does not carry the proper weight it should in this case. Imagine your child’s classroom. Every desk is occupied, but children are also sitting on the floor and standing in the back. Forty-two young lives, bursting with the desire to explore the world. Statistically, this is how many kids are told they have cancer every day of the week.
The impact of children’s cancer is broad, without regard for gender, ethnicity, community or socioeconomic status. But cancer affects, too, the family and friends of the afflicted. Even in the best of cases – survival – the disease pushes the limits of what our minds, bodies and medicines can handle.
Medical science has been steadily progressing toward effective treatments for many types of cancer. According to CureSearch, survival rates for children’s cancer increased from 10% to 78% over the last 40 years. These gains in survival rates are encouraging, but should – and can – be better. Without strong community awareness, support and funding for research, hypotheses and theories cannot make it to the laboratory, let alone yield effective treatments.
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer is a national non-profit foundation whose mission is to fund and support targeted and innovative children’s cancer research with measurable results. In addition to serving as an authoritative source of information and resources for those impacted by children’s cancer, the organization is focused on supporting clinical trials and translational research in order to more effectively improve outcomes for children with difficult-to-treat cancers. The organization relies on the hard work of those like Gonzalez, who are dedicated to raising awareness for the cause, and the support of local communities across the country to raise funds toward research.
“After losing both my parents to cancer, I decided it was time to get involved with local families affected by childhood cancer,” explains Gonzalez. Seeing an opportunity to volunteer with Tulsa CureSearch, she followed through on her decision. Now Gonzalez serves as a vocal advocate and effective organizer on behalf of children with cancer.
“It is common for children with cancer to be treated with adult drugs,” says Gonzalez. However, complications arise because, naturally, children’s bodies are different from adults. The drugs’ side effects, as well as the dosages, can be problematic. Therefore, it is necessary to fund research that is children-specific.
CureSearch’s stated goal is to change the survival rate from the current 78% to 100%. In an effort to make this goal a reality, the organization’s Tulsa chapter hosts the annual CureSearch Walk, which is scheduled for September 20 at Oral Roberts University. “The walk is about celebrating and honoring children from the Tulsa area who have been affected by children’s cancer, while raising funds for lifesaving research,” says Gonzalez. “During the event, we take a special moment to remember and honor those children who have lost their fight and celebrate the CureSearch Heroes who are in treatment or are survivors.”
One such survivor is Delainey Maxwell. At two years of age, Delainey was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). For over two years, she underwent treatments. By all measures, the young girl has displayed strength and a will to overcome cancer. Having recently completed her last round of chemotherapy on March 6, Delainey is bursting with life. Attending pre-K this year, she says her favorite thing about school is recess. Delainey likes to sing and loves the movie “Frozen.” She and her family met Gonzalez through a shared network of cancer research advocates, and have remained close for some time.
Joining their cause is simple. Visit www.curesearch.org to learn more about the different types of children’s cancer and the efforts toward ending the disease. On the site are ample ways to volunteer, as well as donate. Together, we can find a cure for children’s cancer and ensure that every child diagnosed will have the opportunity to experience the joy of declaring recess their favorite part about school.
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Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.