The Childhood Cancer Blog

Entering a New Decade of Childhood Cancer Breakthroughs 

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By: Trish Adkins

We are already going full swing into 2020—a new decade for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) and one that will be full of more childhood cancer breakthroughs. In 20 years, ALSF has grown from a front yard lemonade stand, started by founder Alex Scott, to a global movement to cure childhood cancer. 

Just like Alex Scott believed at her first lemonade stand, ALSF still believes that we will cure childhood cancer! Here are five standout highlights from 2019:

1. One Thousand Projects
In 2019, ALSF funded more than 90 research projects, reaching a total of 1,000 projects funded since 2005. These projects are hosted at 135 institutions in North America. The Foundation also held the first-ever Innovation Summit and introduced two new grant categories in 2019: the Single-Cell Pediatric Cancer Atlas Grant and the Crazy 8 Grant. ALSF now funds 15 different types of research grants. In 2020, ALSF-funded grantees will continue their breakthrough research, and ALSF will offer several cycles of new funding for qualified childhood cancer researchers. 

2. Landmark FDA Approvals 
In August 2019, the FDA approved the drug entrectinib for use in children with NTRK gene fusion-driven cancer. 

Entrectinib was initially studied at the four Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation-funded Center of Excellence institutions—Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of California San Francisco and Baylor College of Medicine. The ALSF Center of Excellence program provides funds to support the development and launch of pediatric clinical trials while training the next generation of leaders in pre-clinical and clinical drug development.

This marks the second FDA approval of a drug that treats pediatric cancer with an NTRK gene fusion in the past two years. New FDA approvals for pediatric oncology drugs are rare. Both of those approvals, for larotrectinib in 2018 and entrectinib in 2019, were the result of studies at ALSF-funded institutions. 

3. 1,400 Hotel Stays for Families Traveling for Treatment
One-year-old Max was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just 3 weeks old. For his family, the diagnosis was terrifying and because of Max’s young age, treatment was particularly challenging. Traveling to and from the hospital was expensive. His mother had already quit her job out of necessity. ALSF’s Travel For Care program came in to help with gas cards to alleviate some of the financial stress of treatment for his family. 

The Travel For Care program provides assistance to families who are financially burdened by the need to travel for childhood cancer treatments. In 2019, ALSF facilitated more than a million miles in travel and supported 1,400 nights of lodging for over 550 families. 

4. Supporting Siblings
Abigail and Timothy are each other’s favorite playmates. When Abigail was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, Timothy lost so much time with his sister. Long hospital stays and treatment side effects separated the duo. Then, Timothy’s parents found out about the SuperSibs program. ALSF’s SuperSibs program is dedicated to comforting, encouraging and empowering siblings during their family’s battle against childhood cancer so they can face the future with courage and hope.

Timothy received the SuperSib mailings—which provided a fun, special distraction from everything happening. The mailings also encouraged Timothy to share what he was feeling. 

In 2019, SuperSibs provided more than 1,500 siblings like Timothy with the tools and support to help them face an uncertain future, including an improved website and the new Grief and Loss mailing program.

5. 15,000 Lemonade Stands
The ALSF story all started with one girl and one lemonade stand. In 2019, over 15,000 lemonade stands and events were held by kids, families, groups and businesses. Supporters raised $28 million for ALSF—bringing the total to more than $200 million since Alex’s first stand. 

In 2020, you can be part of the movement to cure childhood cancer! Save the date for Lemonade Days, June 6-14, 2020, when supporters all around the world host lemonade stands and special events to support childhood cancer research.