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Where Are We Headed in Our War Against Cancer? [SERIES]

In Part V of our five-day series, “Winning the War on Cancer,” we take a look at where we are headed in our fight against the disease.

James Scaife (Handout photo)

Grant Gallagher was 9 years old when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  He had a growth on his neck and suffered very high fevers.  He was treated at The Valerie Fund Children’s Center for nearly nine months and has been cancer-free ever since.  He’s now 17.

Grant Gallagher (Handout photo)

“I learned how to deal with challenges through the whole thing and my family learned how to deal with it together,” said Gallagher.  “The attitude was always that we had to keep moving forward, that we can’t dwell on why things are happening that we just have to fight the problem.  That’s an approach that has stayed with me.  Ways that I dealt with having cancer are the ways I deal with challenges now.  They’ve actually ended up being an asset to me.”

At the age of 3, James Scaife was suffering with incredibly high fevers and nose bleeds that wouldn’t stop.  He had no appetite, he wouldn’t drink and he was lethargic.  He was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

He went through treatments for 3.5 years, was in remission for 4.5 years and was diagnosed again in 2011.  He’s currently undergoing treatment again.

“My mom passed away to cancer, so when he was first diagnosed, to me it was an automatic death sentence,” said James’ mother, Ruth Scaife.  “The second time he was diagnosed, I was a little more comfortable because I knew that things could turn out ok.”

We have been telling you stories like these throughout the week;  stories of pain, heartbreak, determination and survival.

There are many more to tell.  But, the vital work of doctors and specialists in the field of cancer research needs to continue in order for these stories to continue being told.

“We are at a tipping point where we have the technology, good things are happening and going forward, we can’t slow up,” said Dr. Robert DiPaola, Director of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.  “There are many things we have to tend to in terms of where resources go, but we are really making gains and we have the ability to make even greater gains pushing forward.  So, doing more research and more clinical trials that fall in this precision medicine category are very important.”

Of course, support is needed to help this research continue.

“I can’t encourage enough support of all sorts.  It comes in all different ways.  Federal research grants are very important.  So is philanthropy in terms of donors seeing the importance of driving forward these clinical trials,” said Dr. DiPaola.  “While we are incredibly excited that these gains are being made, we also recognize that there is still a great deal of work to be done.”

Each year, The Valerie Fund hosts a 5K walk in an effort to raise funds for the continued care for children with cancer and blood disorders. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Verona Park in Verona, New Jersey. There is also an online component for those who want to raise money virtually by running or walking from any participating Retro Fitness location in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. For more information, visit TheValerieFund.org.

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