powering cures, realizing futures

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The Urgent Need for Research

By Jeri Wilson, Executive Director
Jeri Trick or Treat trail

“She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful.” – Terri St. Cloud 

Eleven years ago, I joined the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation in hopes of helping to make a difference for families battling cancer. In 2011 my eyes were opened to a resiliency I had not known quite so personally.  Watching firsthand how a diagnosis ripples at first then hits like waves in a tsunami to families whose biggest challenge the day before was getting everyone in the same place for a holiday card photo.  Listening to mothers, fathers, and extended family rally up to support their young family member whose life just changed trajectory is still painful.  I watch how a cancer diagnosis ripples through a family leaving no one untouched. And it is these children, some just babies, that taught me about resiliency. They hold hope in their eyes and wear courage in their souls.  

While a diagnosis strikes fear in all who know these families, PCRF stance is to nurture today’s research rockstars and tomorrow’s innovators with the same commitment, optimism, and belief that, together, we will change the world of pediatric cancer care.  We remain laser-focused on supporting breakthrough science.

While cancer in children is considered rare, it is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the USA.  In the last 20 years, only four new drugs have been approved specifically for children.  Some would say this is a start, but these children deserve more momentum, and that is contingent on investments.  In 2021 our open grant cycle gleaned 42 letters of request. Only 7 were funded, leaving 35 research projects unfunded.  Even more difficult was that these grants were some of best and highest scored grants in our history.   

As I continue to meet families facing a new cancer diagnosis, my gratitude grows exponentially for the work that PCRF researchers are conducting. I imagine a day when all the families who receive advanced treatments, whose child was cured, whose survivorship is directly related to research, are in a room together, celebrating life. Celebrating research, science, hope, and resiliency. We also honor the children who lost their fight with cancer, as they too represent strength.  It is those children, who left us too soon, who remind us to continue funding this important research. 

In 2022 we celebrate 40 years of powering cures and realizing futures. The best is yet to come for research.  While the pandemic put us behind in accelerating research, it did show us the power of a united front to support new therapies.   

PCRF creates support systems for families so that they can stay strong amid challenges. This support system includes you. It includes the individuals, foundations, corporations, and events that bring the dollars to the researchers so that they can live out their passion, and reap dividends for pediatric cancer protocols across the world.  

Thank you for believing in our mission. Together we will move forward to end cancer.