Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Calls for More Funding for Childhood Cancer Research

TALLAHASSEE, FL - It's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Jamie Ennis Bloyd is, as she puts it, a "mom on a mission."

Her 5-year-old son Paxton has sporadic-type Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare form of the disease. It's unacceptable, Bloyd said, that less than 4 percent of all cancer research is focused on pediatric cancer.

"Kids are 100 percent of our future," she said. "Four percent is not enough for a population that holds all of the promise for everything, for our whole world. It's just not OK with me. They're precious; they haven't done anything to deserve this."

The American Cancer Society is urging that more resources be dedicated to caring for the overall well-being of child cancer patients and their families. While Bloyd understands the value of palliative care, she said she believes dollars for research should come first.

That extra layer of support is critical, said Rebecca Kirch, the American Cancer Society's director of quality of life and survivorship, because research shows that two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors endure debilitating symptoms that can continue into adulthood, and even last a lifetime.

"As we've seen more and more children surviving and growing into adulthood," she said, "it's not without the expense of this impact on these other things."

Kirch said more focus is being placed on trying to limit the severe side effects of treating pediatric cancer.

Paxton is on his eighth and final round of chemotherapy, and his mom, Jamie Bloyd, said his scans and biopsies are clear. She said she had to "beg and plead" with her son's physicians to follow up on her son's lymph node. Her message to other parents: Childhood cancer symptoms usually don't "roar out at you."

"Things that can easily be written off as, like, 'Oh that's just a 4-year-old being a 4-year-old, or a 5-year-old being a 5-year-old, going through a phase not wanting to eat,' " she said. "Or, 'Oh well, he just, you know, ran around and ate too much and has got a belly ache.' Or, you know,' It's growing pains, that's why his legs hurt.'

" From her own experience, Bloyd said, she tells parents, "Don't be afraid to ask questions, and push, push and push again."

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