The true superheroes of this world are not the ones clad in capes and masks, but rather those in lab coats. And while they may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or go faster than a speeding bullet, they are the men and women dedicated to using their powers to finding cures for childhood (as well as adult) cancers.
Unfortunately, most of these dedicated people do their best work in the shadows, unrecognized or acknowledged by the general public. As a result, the public is now invited to visit Northwestern Mutual’s Facebook page to watch and share the Heroes for a Cure video (http://u.nm.com/H4ACPR) honoring researchers, pediatric oncologist Michael Hogarty, MD, and director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research John Maris, MD, and their teams, as well as two of the children, 8-year old Brooke Mulford and 10-year-old Tony Salerno, who they are helping at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The Northwestern Mutual Foundation will donate $2 to nonprofit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for each Facebook share the video (up to $50,000) ALSF supports research for new treatments and cures for childhood cancer, encouraging and empowering others to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.
The children featured are 8-year-old Brooke Mulford and 10-year-old Tony Salerno, both diagnosed with high-risk, stage four neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the nerve tissue of infants and very young children.
Brooke was only four old when she experienced severe leg pain and was misdiagnosed. Once Brooke was correctly diagnosed with cancer, it had spread through every bone in her body and approximately 8% of her bone marrow. Since then, she has undergone multiple procedures, including 12 days of radiation to her skull, her abdomen and both femurs.
Tony was even younger when he was diagnosed at barely three old after suffering from a sever tummy ache, and needed to have a tumor removed from his abdominal cavity. He has since gone through five rounds of chemotherapy and numerous other treatments, including T-cell rescue and two stem cell transplants. At present, Dr. Maris reports Tony is in remission.
“Hearing the stories of children like Tony and Brooke facing such a devastating illness can leave anyone feeling helpless. What we’re doing is offering a small way that each of us can show our support, with the goal of finding cures,” said John Kordsmeier, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “These dollars are desperately needed to fund research. This campaign is about spreading awareness for this tremendous need as well as funding research vital to saving the lives of children.”
“We’re at this unprecedented time in which we have the ability to discover new targets and new treatments; but when the resources aren’t there, it’s a major problem,” said Dr. Hogarty. “What these kids can go through while still having optimism in their lives makes us work even harder.”
Since launching their childhood cancer program in July 2012, Northwestern Mutual has donated $1.5 million for research and to support families going through treatment. To learn more visit www.nmfoundation.com.