Supporters of the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act received good news this Tuesday morning. The Senate passed this act, which will mean an increase of funds for pediatric research, including research for pediatric cancer. This huge boost of funding for pediatric disorders, like cancer, will come from the termination of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.
The termination of this fund will save $126 million over the span of the next 10 years. This money is authorized to be used for pediatric research on cancer, autism, and more. The termination of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund means that there is no longer an entitlement payment to any major or minority political party. Instead, this money will be allocated to a 10 year fund for pediatric research. The money will go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for allocation to appropriate grants for research.
When the bill was in house last December, it received 300 votes, with around 100 democrats voting against the bill. In December the Democrats who voted against it claimed it was a suspicious way to restore cuts made to NIH’s funding. This bill also amends the Public Health Service Act in order to require the director of NIH to use the allotted funds specifically for pediatric research, such as cancer funding.
This bill could bring the possibility of new hope to families with children who have cancer. Amber Moore, a Henderson resident and mom of 3-year-old Jillian, is anxious to see what this bill can do. Amber Moore says that it is great news and it is about time. Moore is anxious to see what these funds can do, and where exactly they will go. She stated, “Actions speak louder than words. It’s all talk until something actually happens. Let’s see if we can get some results.”
Jillian was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, which is a childhood cancer. It has been a long road for Jillian, although her mom noted that Jillian has had an easier time than a lot of the other children she has seen diagnosed with cancer. Jillian just finished 20 rounds of radiation. Her diagnosis came in July 2013, and was immediately followed with six cycles of chemotherapy. Jillian’s treatment has included two trips to New York, one for surgery to remove a tumor and the other time was to receive a stem cell transplant.
There is no doubt that pediatric patients need this huge boost for cancer funding. Moore says, “These kids are our future.” She also stated, “I’m just watching these kids [other pediatric cancer patients] and my heart just jumps out of my chest when I see them fail.” Moore also pointed out that there needs to be much more awareness for childhood cancer. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is September, and it is represented by a gold ribbon. Moore said, “Where is all the gold in September? I want to see as much gold in September as I see pink in October.”
Hopefully, along with cancer funding, this new bill will bring some awareness to childhood cancer. Majority Leader Eric Cantor played a big role in getting this bill passed. This bill is named after Gabriella Miller, a remarkable little girl who passed away at 10 years old in October 2013 from brain cancer. Gabriella was able to accomplish a lot in her short life, which included starting a nonprofit, the Smashing Walnuts Foundation. The Smashing Walnuts foundation posted this on their Facebook page yesterday morning: “A BIG thank you to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for giving Gabriella, and ALL children, that are fighting a disease the chance to have a voice. Without Leader Cantor’s initiative we would not be celebrating the fact that the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act has passed the Senate today!”
In the video below this article, which was filmed the month of Gabriella’s death, Gabriella speaks about what she wanted to happen after she lost her battle with cancer. She said, “I’m going to want other people to carry on with this war.” The unanimous passing of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act today shows that indeed, people are carrying on with this war, and they are winning.
This funding may be a chance for more hope for children who have cancer, children like Jillian. Jillian is undergoing testing right now to determine if there is still cancer in her body. If those tests come back clean, then Jillian will begin six cycles of immunotherapy in the beginning of April, which will last 18 weeks. If Jillian is able to successfully complete her immunotherapy and has no relapse, her chance of survival will go from 50 percent to 70 percent. Jillian, who will be 4 next month, “lives for the moment,” her mother said.
Gabriella said that the people who will carry on with this war “are going to win this war.” The huge boost that pediatric cancer funding received today is a step in the right direction. Gabriella has had a victory today in the war against cancer.
By Ashley Campbell
Amber Moore (Interview)