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Calls for More Funding on Childhood Cancer

PHOTO: In Lexington, five-year-old Paxton Bloyd is battling a rare form of lymphoma. His mother says more funding is needed for pediatric cancer research. Photo courtesy of Jamie Ennis Bloyd.
PHOTO: In Lexington, five-year-old Paxton Bloyd is battling a rare form of lymphoma. His mother says more funding is needed for pediatric cancer research. Photo courtesy of Jamie Ennis Bloyd.
September 16, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Jamie Ennis Bloyd is, as she puts it, a "mom on a mission."

Bloyd's five-year-old son Paxton has a rare form of lymphoma called sporadic type Burkitt's lymphoma. The Lexington mother says it's unacceptable that less than four percent of all cancer research is focused on pediatric cancer.

"Kids are 100 percent of our future. Four percent is not enough for a population that holds all of the promise for everything, for our whole world," she says. "It's just not okay with me. Children are 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 believes dollars for research should come first.

The American Cancer Society's Rebecca Kirch says that extra layer of support is critical because research shows 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, it's not without the expense of this impact on these other things," she says.

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

Bloyd's son Paxton is now on his eighth and final round of chemotherapy. She says his scans and biopsies are clear, but 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 four-year-old being a four-year-old, or a five-year-old being a five-year-old, going through a phase not wanting to eat,'" explains Bloyd. "Or, 'oh well, he just 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 tells parents - don't be afraid to ask questions and "push, push and push again."

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY