The Zero Childhood Cancer Program’s goal: reduce child cancer deaths to zero
September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the Lott is proud to support some of the Aussie organisations improving outcomes for children diagnosed with the aggressive disease.
Two organisations, the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and the Children’s Cancer Institute are working together and providing hope for families through the Zero Childhood Cancer Program.
It’s taken a game-changing approach to treating childhood cancer and offers Australia’s first personalised medicine treatment program. The Program is dedicated to treating children who have been given less than a 30% chance of survival.
Since its national clinical trial launched in September 2017, over 350 children and young people with aggressive cancer have been enrolled. For 74% of these patients, the program has successfully identified a personalised treatment plan targeting the specific genetic changes driving their cancer, in just nine weeks.
One of these children is 13 year old Jack, described by his parents Viv and Alex as an all-action, bubbly, and energetic child. But when Jacked turned nine, his behaviour changed. He was suddenly absent and dazed and became so sensitive to light that he couldn’t look at an iPad.
An MRI detected a large brain tumour and it was classified as a low-grade glioma. It had grown very large but was operable. Following the successful operation, Jack was given a positive prognosis.
Just over a year later, the real nightmare began. Jack woke up with a terrible headache and started vomiting. His parents took him to the hospital and didn’t leave for months. The tumour had grown back aggressively. Jack was starting to go blind and was in constant excruciating pain. He wasn’t responding to surgery or chemotherapy. Doctors had told Viv and Alex that there was a good chance he wasn’t going to make it.
After a consult with his doctors, he was enrolled in the Zero Childhood Cancer Program.
Children’s Cancer Institute Executive Director Michelle Haber AM said Jack’s results were remarkable.
“Having identified the genetic change that was responsible for his tumour cells now growing so aggressively and threatening Jack’s life, we were able to identify the drug that targeted that specific genetic change and the results were frankly remarkable,” she explained.
“He was wanting to get up, he wanted to eat, he wanted to move,” Jack’s dad Alex added.
“It was miraculous. It was just days after receiving the right treatment and he was transformed back to himself.”
Jack’s mum Viv said. More than two years on, Jack’s treatment continues, there’s no trace of his tumour and the drugs have had little or no side effects; a result made possible thanks to the Zero Childhood Cancer Program.
Jack’s story is one of hope and optimism and is an inspiration for children and their families across the country. The Zero Childhood Cancer Program continues to gain momentum as the team works towards their ultimate goal of reducing child cancer deaths to zero.
In April we were honoured to make a $600,000 donation to support this goal and look forward to continuing our support as they advance their revolutionary and life-changing work.