Going to school, doing your homework and occasionally getting to play out in the snow, all things we can take for granted during our childhood.
It’s hard to imagine something stopping you from doing those things – even if you might prefer not to do the homework sometimes – but tragically, around 1600 children in the UK who are diagnosed with cancer each year don’t have to imagine.
We are proud to say that thanks to research and clinical trials, more than eight in ten children with cancer now survive for at least five years. But that’s not enough.
Our scientists are working hard to make sure survival rates continue to increase in children.
These numbers can also hide the long term effects of surviving the disease and the resilience and bravery shown by children with cancer and the families who support them.
Last week Professor Pamela Kearns, head of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit in Birmingham, which houses a team dedicated to beating childhood cancer, came to our head office and gave a truly inspiring talk about her work.
She was joined by Paige – a childhood cancer survivor – and Paige’s sister, Chelsea, who shared with us their experience of diagnosis, treatment and looking forward to the future.
Although childhood cancer survival has increased from three in ten in the late 1960s, some drugs that are used to treat the disease remain as old as this statistic.
Research and clinical trials have revealed the best way to use these drugs, which has helped push five year survival rates up to more than eight in ten.
But more research is needed to find new, kinder drugs that are tailored to childhood cancers.
Scientists like Professor Kearns are at the forefront of this research to bring forward the day where she can say to patients – I know what your child’s cancer is, why it happened and I guarantee I can cure it.
The stories of brave children like Paige spur us on to achieve this goal. She battled through her treatment – continuing to do her homework and going to school – and we will continue to work hard so even more children can share their stories in the future.