Taking a stand

Augusta takes the fight against pediatric cancer quite personally

Seems silly, on its face, to try to fight cancer with a lemonade stand.


But 4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott of Pennsylvania did just that in the year 2000 — and raised an eye-popping $2,000 in one day.

A year after she died in 2004 of the cancer she’d been diagnosed with before age 1, her parents took over. Today, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised over $140 million. They’ve used it to help fund nearly 700 research projects, to help parents of patients in their travels, and to just raise awareness of pediatric cancer — which, frankly, doesn’t get nearly its due.

Over $1 million has gone to Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, where Dr. Ted Johnson and colleagues have worked on brain tumors and embarked on a national clinical trial for kids with cancer.

Just as beautifully, Augusta kids and adults have gotten behind Alex’s Lemonade Stand — literally — to keep raising money. The medical district’s outlet of Columbia, S.C.-based daycare company Big Blue Marble Academy — named for the spinning orb we all inhabit — has participated in the event, which runs through next Friday.

As a column in tomorrow’s Chronicle Opinion section by area Rep. Rick Allen notes, “Each year, 15,780 children in America are diagnosed with cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children older than infancy in the United States.”

Yet, remarkably, only about 4 percent of National Cancer Institute funding goes to pediatric cancer.

As Allen notes, he is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1231, the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act — which would, among other things, require drug companies to include children where possible in the development of new cancer treatments. There are some 900 drugs in development.

RACE passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously, as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, and awaits action in the Senate.

Augusta has its own stories of childhood cancer. In 2009, Turner and Tara Simkins’ nearly 7-year-old son, Brennan, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Following four torturous bone marrow transplants, he has been in remission since 2011 — beating galactically tall odds, but only through the relentless determination and tested faith of the Simkins clan and the inconceivable dedication of doctors, nurses and staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Turner Simkins later compiled a book, Possibilities, with real-time narratives of his family’s grueling journey.

And, of course, this region is so blessed to host Augusta University’s 154 bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia — with the highest-level neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, and a staff of critical care physicians and nurses who provide their own inconceivable care for some 1,000 critically ill little patients a year.

Then there’s the nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, which houses families of critically ill children in its still-new 23-bedroom house in the shadow of the children’s hospital.

So, while the inspiring lemonade stand may have started with an amazing little girl in Pennsylvania, this is personal for us here in Augusta.

This is family.

Jayce James 9 days ago
Why doesn't this newspaper make a stand? Do you support the Senate Health Care Bill or not?
chas cushman 8 days ago
I do not, it is Obamacare lite. If the DA republicans pass it will be as the banking queen said 'a large step toward single payer'.
B. M. Michales 8 days ago
Do you support plastic surgery as part of the bill or not?
Roland SASSER 8 days ago

Same comment on editorial cartoon:

I truly wish the Republicans would abandon their effort to replace Abomination Care and let it completely implode. Only then will something get done and maybe involve both sides?

Preexisting conditions is the fly in the ointment! Insurance companies have to make up the losses and forcing healthy people to purchase something they neither need nor want or pay a penalty didn't work so well for Dumbo!

I'm beginning to believe that covering preexisting conditions is neither obtainable or sustainable!  

Jim Hall 8 days ago
For the insurance companies, medical preexisting conditions is like selling life insurance to patients on life support.

Insurance is a for profit business, not a doctor, or hospital, or pharmacy, or a charity, or a constitutional right.  The companies must collect more than they pay out or go out of business.
Dee STAFFORD 8 days ago
Roland, This shows the brilliance of the Dems who wrote Obamacare ( he had no idea what was in it).  They had it in their desks and ready to go for decades just waiting for the right circumstances.

When Obama came in and they got the 60 in the senate and majority in the house they struck.

It was designed to be a Gordian Knot that was so entangled that it could not be undone.  The second part was it was known to be a failure and a Dem would become president and then they would have to go to a single payer which was the ultimate goal.

The thing is Obamacare got so many addicted on pre-existing conditions and other aspects of Obamacare that they could not be weened off.

The Republicans passed "repeal" over 50 times knowing they were spitting in the wind and it meant nothing; but, when the votes meant something the Dems in Republican skins (Collins, Portman, Murkowsk of AL) would not vote for repeal.

Now, the question is: do they let it fail and get the blame or do they put out an Obama lite and maybe picking up a couple of new senators in '18? 

I don't think the vast majority of people will blame the Dems for the failure and collapse. 

 I think the president may need to call in the  senators who are not willing to vote for appeal as they have been telling the people back home and tell them he is going to make a trip to their states in the next few weeks telling the people the situation of them not holding to their promise.  And perhaps the sight of tens of thousands of people at a rally will change their mind or face a strong primary opponent.

The same goes for the house.  

Gary McNeal 8 days ago
Yea Dee, I think Trump needs to hit the trail and wake these people up and tell them whats up.


Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:33

Why not fix what’s there?

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:31

This is war

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:30

A scandal of his own making?

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 22:57

Griffin’s outrage endures