Organizations: CURE Childhood Cancer
When Emory University’s first pediatric oncologist, Dr. Abdel Ragab, started CURE Childhood Cancer in 1975, Atlanta offered few resources to physicians and families struggling with the disease.
“Doctors didn’t have the equipment they needed, and parents didn’t have support systems,” says the nonprofit’s executive director, Kristin Connor. “Today, Atlanta ranks in the top 10 centers for treating pediatric cancer, and we just donated $2.5 million toward research, most of which is taking place in Atlanta.”
CURE also maintains a professional counseling program and a family emergency fund for the estimated 2,400 children currently undergoing treatment in Georgia.
“Often, at least one parent will have to leave the workforce when a child is diagnosed,” Connor says. “They may be driving here from Valdosta, too, so we help them pay for gas, rent, utilities and other needs.”
Cancer is the second leading cause of death for children, behind accidents, and, tragically, the incident rate is rising. Yet pediatric cancer research garners only about 4 percent of federal funding allocated for cancer research. “In recent years, there have been dozens of drugs developed to treat adult cancers but only two for pediatric,” she says. “Most people don’t realize that cancer affects children differently.”
CURE, with a staff of 12, including a representative in Savannah, is supported by private donations and grants. Every week, the group serves lunch or dinner in the children’s oncology wards.
“Our meals are a way of getting parents out of the rooms for a few minutes,” Connor says. “They meet each other and create a support system that way, and, believe me, those bonds last a lifetime.”