Physicians, families affected by childhood cancer hope for more funds for research

Physicians, families affected by childhood cancer hope for more funds for research
The Lin Carter family has started the NoeStrong Foundation to help families of cancer victims. Logo provided by Carter Family.
The Lin Carter family has started the NoeStrong Foundation to help families of cancer victims. Logo provided by Carter Family.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

It is a disease that affects thousands of children in the U.S. each year, but the good news is that more and more children are surviving cancer.

One such survivor is Noelle Carter of Hattiesburg.

She was diagnosed with stage three liver cancer last December, but after chemo therapy and a liver transplant at a hospital in Houston, Texas, she is cancer free.

"We were just like everyone else before this hit, living our lives," said Lin Carter, Noelle's father. "A lot of stuff that was going on before is not quite as important, you learn to recognize the smaller things in life that are important."

Carter's family has started a foundation to help families of cancer patients pay bills while their children are in the hospital.

It is called the NoeStrong Pediatric Oncology Foundation.

"(We're going to) raise awareness and raise money to try to help people that need to pay a mortgage or a car note or anything like that, where they can be there with their children during this time," Carter said.

In the meantime, physicians like Anderson Collier, III are making progress in fighting cancer.

He is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

He said the work of dedicated cancer doctors and a lot of research has led to increased survival rates for children with cancer over the last half century.

"Probably in the 50's, essentially all kids with cancer died," Collier said. "There were some, it was not 100 percent died, but it was a very small percentage that survived. The numbers these days are, all childhood cancers (included), probably about 75 percent or so survive, in the span of 60 years."

He said, while progress has been made, not enough money is being spent on researching childhood cancer.

"Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is one of those times where we can, as advocates as healthcare providers, as specialists in the field, can go to organizations, fund-raising places, the government, the National Cancer Institute and advocate for more money for childhood cancer," Collier said.

Lin Carter agrees that more money should go to cancer research for children.

"Four percent of the money raised in the United States for cancer goes to childhood cancer, which is, after what we've seen, totally unacceptable," Carter said.

Collier said as of 2014, there were 500,000 survivors of childhood cancer living in the U.S.

He said the Children's Cancer Clinic at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson typically sees about 80 new cancer patients each year.