In February, we chose to donate the funds raised during our casual Fridays to Nathan’s Angels. We raised $240 for this worthwhile cause, nominated by our client, Emilia Amaral.
Emilia’s niece’s son, Nathan, made many trips to the pediatrician’s office to treat reflux. At six weeks, his parents discovered it wasn’t reflux at all. Instead, he had stage 4 neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma is a form of childhood cancer which begins in immature nerve cells called neuroblasts in the sympathetic nervous system. Neuroblastoma can seriously affect children, because it zeroes in on the central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. It can affect walking and involuntary functions such as digestion and breathing. In 2 out of 3 cases, the disease spreads to other parts of the body before diagnosis. It is the most common form of cancer in infants and doctors diagnose about 700 new cases each year in the U.S.
The usual treatment for neuroblastoma is chemotherapy and surgery. After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, no evidence of cancer existed in Nathan. However, the cancer eventually spread and the battle to eradicate the disease continued. Additional chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatments occupied the family’s time, but Nathan unfortunately lost the battle and passed away at just one year old.
No cure exists for neuroblastoma at this time, but research continues. Pioneering work of the Department of Pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City has already improved the survival rate. However, much depends on early diagnosis and treatment. The hospital currently uses the Hu3F8 antibody which detects and destroys neuroblastoma cells that survive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but it isn’t effective in all patients.
Groundbreaking research includes a radioactive antibody to treat recurring brain cancer patients, because no standard therapy exists. Other projects include the development of a vaccine to eliminate toxins found in neuroblastoma patients so they do not need treatment with antibodies. If successful, the vaccine may prevent the return on cancer in patients.
Another clinical trial involves the Hu3F8 antibody and NK cells from a donor. Natural killer (NK) cells are white blood cells which recognize and kill abnormal cells in the body. NK cells from a donor can boost antitumor activity against neuroblastoma.
The Nathan’s Angels Memorial Foundation provides financial assistance to children in nearby surrounding communities of Providence, Rhode Island. The foundation helps children under the age of 18 who have a critical cancer diagnosis and who are in active treatment. Donations are always welcome for this worthwhile cause. Donate here, assist children with neuroblastoma, and ease their family’s financial burden. With your help, families can stay by their children’s side and improve their chances of a happy, disease-free life.