|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
How a Bill Becomes a Law
U-M Parents Win Support for Conquer Childhood Cancer ActPresident George W. Bush recently signed the Caroline Price Walker Childhood Cancer Act, authorizing $150 million over five years for pediatric cancer clinical trials. For three families at the University of Michigan, it's a landmark victory.
Members of three families with children who are U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center patients at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital went to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress to pass the law.
"As a parent, you want to protect your child, but when our daughter was sick, it was really difficult to see her go up this mountain all by herself and just wait for her to come back to us," said Kelly Parent, whose 13-year-old daughter, Jessica, is a five-year brain cancer survivor. "Meeting with legislators and working to get this law passed has been hugely healing. I can't tell you how healing it is to get some control back."
The Childhood Cancer Act, which passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and Senate, aims to create a population-based national childhood cancer database to improve public awareness of available treatment and research for children with cancer.
Much of the legislation's funding will support the Children's Oncology Group, an organization of more than 5,000 experts from across the country-including representatives from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. COG is responsible for treating more than 90 percent of children with cancer.
The new funding will help move research from the laboratory into clinical trials, allowing more children to participate, said James Geiger, M.D., associate professor of surgery and a pediatric surgical oncologist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. As a result, children will have more treatment options.
"The Conquering Childhood Cancer Act helps COG in its mission of developing innovative treatments and cures. Pediatric cancers don't get the attention that they should, and the law is a great start in recognizing the need for more awareness," Geiger said. "This boost comes at the right time; in more recent years, funding for pediatric cancer research has been down. The legislative support is certainly a step in the right direction."
Parent, a former registered dietitian who became Mott's patient and family coordinator after her daughter's diagnosis, said she goes to Washington twice a year to share with legislators the stories of families affected by childhood cancer.
The Conquering Childhood Cancer Act is the culmination of a long process. It was initially introduced in March 2007. "We all have the power to make change," Parent said. "Real change has always been grassroots."
GET INVOLVED!September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Here are some ways you can participate -- during that time or any other.
This article first appeared in the Summer, 2007 issue of Thrive. Read the magazine - opens as a .pdf document.