Funding Research for Pediatric Brain Tumors

By Joan Slaughter, Executive Director of The Morgan Adams Foundation

Monday, Aug 6 2018

Morgan Adams Fdn Blog

In 1997, my husband Steven Adams and I were raising two kids, enjoying a normal, happy existence. All that changed in an instant when we took our oldest daughter, 5-year-old Morgan, to the doctor with what we thought was the flu. We were beyond devastated to find out she had a brain tumor.

Eleven months later, after multiple brain surgeries, intensive chemotherapy, and radiation, we lost our sweet, brave girl. Steven and I wanted to do something to support the doctors who gave everything they had to help Morgan — and to help them find a way to save the lives of other children.

We were shocked to learn how underfunded research for pediatric cancer is. While there are many great ways to help children fighting cancer, we knew our efforts needed to focus on research.

Since founding The Morgan Adams Foundation, we have made some progress with pediatric brain tumors:

  • In 1998, the year Morgan died, medulloblastoma tumors were 25 percent curable. Now they are 80 percent curable. We are proud to have played a role in changing that statistic for the better.

  • In 1998, if a child with an ependymoma tumor relapsed, their cancer was simply not curable.
 Now, thanks to a treatment pioneered at Children’s Colorado, nearly all kids with recurrent ependymomas have significantly better outcomes — and some are even cured.

Yet much work remains:

  • In 1998, kids diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme tumors — like Morgan’s — had only a 10 percent shot at survival. In 2018, that survival rate still hasn’t changed.

  • In 1998, kids diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) brain tumors had ZERO chance of survival. Twenty years later, that number hasn’t improved.

There are far too many types of pediatric cancer for which we can offer very little hope. Children’s cancers are NOT the same as adult cancers. They need their own treatments. And their own research. Our supporters have enabled us to collectively build one of the best pediatric brain tumor research programs in the country at Children’s Colorado.

This has been a difficult year for all of us at The Morgan Adams Foundation, with too many families losing their cancer warriors: Koby, Trevor, Cooper, Ryan, Kailey, Lisa, Josh, and Finn — these are just some of the kiddos we knew personally.

For them, for Morgan, and for countless others, we press on.

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