As many of you know, childhood cancer is near and dear to our hearts. In 2004, our first daughter, Hayley, had just celebrated her first birthday when our lives were changed forever with the words, "your daughter has cancer." And not just any cancer - a rare and aggressive form of leukemia called AML leukemia that carried with it a 50% surivial rate. 50%! It was truly an "earth falling down around you moment" for two young parents. Over the next few months,she endured 8 rounds of chemotherapy, countless spinal taps, nearly 60 blood and platelet transfusions and more than 200 nights in the hospital - all at the ripe old age of one. She quite literally learned to walk and talk in a hospital. Thankfully, initially, she seemed to be doing well.
But then she relapsed. And at relapse we were told her chance of survival had grown even smaller. That there weren't any true protocols or treatment plans to follow, but that they would "piece one together." We didn't give up hope, but the prognosis was bleak. Ultimately even total body radiation and a bone marrow transplant weren't enough to rid her body of those cancer cells. We said goodbye to our baby girl that December, a mere 10 months after her cancer journey had begun. There are no words for that loss. She has been missed every day for the past 13 years.
But this story is not solely about us and, sadly, our story is not as unique as it should be. Approximately 1 in 300 kids will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they reach 20. In fact, more than 43 children are diagnosed with cancer each day in the United States alone. One-fifth of those children will not survive, and those that do are often left with lingering side effects. In the past 20 years, there have only been three drugs approved specifically for pediatric cancer! The primary reason for this is lack of research funds. Maddeningly, the government dedicates less than 4 percent of its cancer budget to children.
CURE Childhood Cancer is working to change that. By participating in Lauren's Run - by walking, running, or sponsoring our team, YOU are working to change that too. Last year, CURE donated more than $3 million to research projects specifically targeted at curing childhood cancer. Not only that, but they come alongside families early in the journey with compassion and practical assistance. Their support is invaluable, and the research is working.
So, thank you for considering contributing to our team. Thank you for walking and running with us and remembering all who fought and still fight this battle. Thank you for helping us reach the day when every child diagnosed with cancer can be GUARANTEED a cure!