In 1980, at the age of 1, I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, one of the 16 types of childhood cancer.
My tumor grew out of my spine and wrapped around my heart, and I was given a very low rate of survival. As a result, I became an experimental patient and underwent surgeries, radiation and two years of experimental chemotherapy. I'm incredibly blessed to be alive, but due to the cancer and multiple treatments, I have a long list of medical issues and lingering side effects.
Childhood cancer is the No. 1 pediatric disease killer. Yet, childhood cancer is vastly and consistently underfunded — only 3.8 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is allocated to all 16 types of childhood cancer.
The STAR Act would increase all types of childhood cancer research, track and identify incidences of childhood cancer, and enhance the quality of life and provide better resources for survivors. It is vitally important that Congress pass the STAR Act because we need to develop better treatment methods to increase survival rates, and decrease the number and severity of late effects.
As a childhood cancer survivor and an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network advocate, I urge Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson to vote yes on the STAR Act.
Mariah Forster Olson, La Crosse