Children’s cancer research lags behind on funding

By Isabel Torres
Co-Founder, Executive Director
Gabriella’s Smile Foundation
www.strongerthandipg.org

#MoreThan4 is a hashtag I frequently use and mostly during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. I lost my daughter after seven and a half months of battling a terminal brain tumor, DIPG. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is what the doctors told my husband and me. “Don’t google it,” they said. I googled it. What I found would make any mother sick to her stomach. Dating back to 1962 when Neil Armstrong lost his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to DIPG, there have been no real advancements in the treatment for this tumor.

We were given the option of radiation to shrink the tumor and hopefully get our daughter to a “honeymoon stage,” where all would be almost normal, but only until the monster tumor would start growing again. She also took an oral chemotherapy drug that is commonly given to adults with glioblastoma. Again, this would give us a few more months with our daughter, but the doctor assured us that she would not likely survive through the end of the year. That was in 2015.

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Today’s tobacco not a safe alternative

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Did you know that nine out of ten smokers start smoking before the age of 18? Consequently, tobacco prevention is a pediatrician’s problem to tackle.  Fortunately, over the past several decades, tobacco use has declined, primarily because of regulations put in place to bar the industry from marketing to children and youth.

Enter vaping – the tobacco industry’s latest attempt to hook your child. Overall, tobacco use among teens has declined since the 1970s; however, a recent study published in Pediatrics revealed that 13.7 percent of 12th grade students in Southern California currently smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes compared to 9.9 percent in 2004 (before e-cigarettes were available).  E-cigarettes are a type of electronic smoking device available in a variety of colors, sizes, and flavors (eg. vanilla, chocolate) and are advertised to be a “safer” form of tobacco.

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Gabriella’s smile lives on through family’s foundation

By Cecilio Torres, Jr.
Founder, Gabriella’s Smile Foundation

Gabriella’s name means “God is my strength” and that is what was exhibited from the moment she was born and was magnified when she was diagnosed with DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), an incurable and inoperable brain tumor, which once diagnosed, only provides children with about nine months of life. She was five years old at her diagnosis.

We were unprepared when Gabriella was diagnosed on March 16, 2015, and verified on March 17 after an MRI confirmed ours and our doctor’s worst fear. We sat in a conference room at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio surrounded by our oncologist, a nurse and social worker who told us, “Your daughter will not survive beyond 2015. She has DIPG.” These four letters, this diagnosis, sent us into a whirlwind of emotional uncertainty, insecurity and fear of losing our beautiful little Gabriella.

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