Monday, November 5, 2007

Erin Needs Your Help

November 5, 2007

We spend a lot of time forgetting that Erin has cancer. We focus on her great grades. We relish watching her make a quick tackle, followed by a splendid turn on the ball to throw the attacker off and start the offense for her team. We revel in the charm of her smile and the radiance that overflows from her eyes. We grin at her wit. I spent a long twenty minutes with her yesterday exploring what college courses she should take to prepare herself to serve as our nation's president, and another long spell staring at a mother spider who had just hatched a host of spider babes.

All these moments help fade the fact that she's ten and been staring cancer in the face more than half her life. . .the fact that relapsed neuroblastoma has no cure (yet).

If you are a Texans and a registered voter, you have the opportunity to help Erin, possibly directly, and certainly indirectly, by voting YES for Proposition 15.

Proposition 15 is a constitutional amendment to establish the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to:

  • Conduct research to prevent or cure cancer
  • Support existing cancer research efforts in Texas
  • Implement the Texas Cancer Plan, a statewide blueprint for cancer prevention and control

If passed, Prop 15 will authorize up to $3 billion in state general revenue bonds to fund cancer research, prevention, early detection and control programs.

In 2003 the director of the National Cancer Institute stated that we could eliminate cancer suffering and death by 2015. Since that time the Bush administration has cut the NCI budget three consecutive years making the goal unlikely to be reached by that time. The funding level now is less than $5 billion for all cancer research. The amount allocated to children's cancer is less than 5% of that. All of cancer research funding is equivalent to what is spent in Iraq in just a few days and the equivalent amount spent on pediatric cancer research is spent in Iraq in minutes.

If the nation does not view cancer research as a priority, Texans have the opportunity to step into the breach. Did you know that Texas has more children with cancer than Canada does? Can we get some budgeting priorities right? Please vote and encourage others to do so as well.

Even if you don't live in Texas, you can help. Our regular holiday message is GIVE UP YOUR LUNCH FOR ERIN.

Lunch for Life

Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation has launched this year's Lunch for Life. Once again, we are getting into the holiday spirit by asking folks to give up their lunch to help find and fund a cure for neuroblastoma.

Here’s how it works: Each child has his or her own virtual giving tree, and your donations will decorate those trees with ornaments and (ultimately) presents. Every donation you make on Erin's behalf has three effects: 1) her tree receives one ornament for every $5 you donate; 2) every donation generates a Giving Code that gets Erin bonus ornaments if you pass it on to a friend to use; and 3) each ornament creates one entry for that child into our Disney World giveaway. For example, if I give up lunch all week ($5/day) and donate $25 to Erin's tree, she gets 5 ornaments on her tree and 5 contest entries. I also get a Giving Code to pass along. (PLEASE NOTE: Erin's Giving Tree Code is 24730) When a tree is full (500 ornaments), those ornaments transform into a present underneath that tree, and the decoration process begins all over again.

I just visited the link and it took less than a minute to give up my lunch! If you're skeptical, spend some time on the Lunch for Life website. ALL FUNDS raised through Lunch for Life go directly to support neuroblastoma research and initiatives. Erin might not benefit from the research, and it might not save her life, but we hope it will. We want to wipe neuroblastoma off of the face of the earth!

One thing you will notice if you have visited Lunch for Life before, the web page has a new look. More importantly, there are new ways to get involved: in your neighborhood and at work. If you have ever thought about passing it forward, this would be the place to start.

One final word on Erin.

I just received the final blood lab report from Erin's work up last week. Nothing in the CBC was quite as good as last month:

WBC 3,300
ANC 1,700
HGB 11.3
PLT 245,000

but the chemistries were all normal. We also measured quantitative immunoglobulins to see if her body has the ability to mount an immune response if faced with viral or bacterial infection. No real surprise that she measured lower than normal (IGg-511 mg/dL when the reference range is 690-1560 for her age and size). Walter and I are investigating how to get her an infusion (IVIG) that would boost her immune system. In the meantime, don't cough on her, smear your boogers on her, or offer her bons bons that you have already licked. In fact, I think you should get into the habit, when someone sneezes, of saying "Bless you. Sanitize." like the children in Erin's fifth grade class do.

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