September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month we will feature the stories of the youngest members of our community, the research into childhood cancers that we fund and the powerful fundraising done by parents of children affected by sarcoma.
We want to take a moment to single out the parents who channel their energy into raising funds and awareness so that other parents may not have to experience the pain of losing a little one to sarcoma. Jo Ghaut completed the Virgin Money London Marathon this year in memory of her son, Luis, who died in 2015 with osteosarcoma. Together with the rest of the runners, Jo brought in just over £250,000 – enough to fund our most recent research round in full.
There are good news stories too. Pippa Hatch was diagnosed with a rare form of GIST at the age of 15. As a young adult in 2018, Pippa is thriving (that's her in the photo - getting her hands and everything else dirty at the Nuts Challenge to raise funds for Sarcoma UK). She is a poster child for the importance of funding innovative research as, had she been born much earlier, the treatments that saved her life would not have existed.
These breakthroughs need to continue so that even more children get to grow up as Pippa has. We have funded research into rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, two cancers that are particularly common in children. Dr Gareth Veal and his team in Newcastle are currently looking at ways to make treatments less toxic for young people while Prof. Janet Shipley and colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research recently completed a study on why rhabdomyosarcoma is so aggressive.
These are just two examples of important studies that we are able to fund; there are so many more that we could have funded if we had the resources.
This year we finally got statistics about sarcoma from the four nations that are reliable and consistent. We intend to gather these figures every year from now on so that we can say with confidence if sarcoma is affecting more or fewer children in the UK. With quite a few sarcomas being more prevalent in children, we have supported a significant number of people with questions about childhood sarcoma through the Sarcoma UK Support Line. As always, the Support Line is here for everyone affected by sarcoma regardless of age.
We want everyone affected by sarcoma to have the chance to live long, fulfilling lives. With your support, we can make things better for the children of today and tomorrow.