In any medical field, funding is critical. This need includes research and treatment. Pediatric cancer is very much the same. There is no cure for cancer right now, yet since 2003, funding for pediatric cancer research has been decreasing annually (Jonsen n. pag.). According to Helen Jonsen of Forbes magazine, the reason for the lack of funding for pediatric cancer is the emotional toll the disease takes on the family. She explains, “children with life-threatening diseases exhaust their families emotionally and often financially; even after recovery, neither the children nor their parents find it easy to advocate for themselves…Unlike other health care lobbies, they do not have the energy to march in the streets and call for action” (Johnsen n. pag.).
Jonsen speaks from experience. Her daughter was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone. This diagnosis came at a very late stage in the disease and the cancer had increased to the size of a wine bottle. The doctor, therefore, had to do reconstructive surgery on Jonsen’s daughter and use a space age prosthetic to replace the knee. Only in July of 2008, did congress decide to pass a bill that gave 30 million dollars to funding pediatric cancer. This is the first major bill that was passed for pediatric cancer. The Bill was sponsored by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), whose child had been diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Unfortunately, her daughter passed away (Jonsen n. pag.). Deborah Pryce went through so much pain, but it is a shame that that is what it took for congress to make positive changes for others.
Jonsen makes a comparison of the eradication of polio in the U.S. Polio was eradicated through philanthropic efforts. Like polio, cancer needs more money and campaigning in order to find a cure soon. It should not take the loss of more lives in order for us to realize the breadth of the situation.
We must push for funding; push for research; and, push for treatment. These children need us. Like Jonsen mentions, these families cannot always speak for themselves, so let us help their voices be heard.