Like all new parents, René Marsh G’03 was thrilled by the birth of her first child, son Blake, in 2019. But only nine months later, the unthinkable happened: Blake was diagnosed with L a rare brain tumor, pineoblastoma. He died 16 months later.
Navigating Blake’s medical journey, Marsh, a national correspondent at CNN, was shocked to learn how little federal funding is dedicated to pediatric brain cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children under age 15. In 2018, only 5% of the National Cancer Institute’s $6 billion budget was earmarked toward pediatric cancer. Funding for research in childhood brain cancer is even more limited. No drug has ever been developed and approved specifically to treat children with brain cancer. “Blake was actually treated with chemotherapy drugs that were developed and designed for adults decades ago, one drug seven decades ago,” says Marsh. “This one-sizefits-all approach doesn’t work. A child’s cancer is biologically different, and in many cases, more aggressive.”