Millions of people have a story to tell—they have lived a fulfilling life after being diagnosed with cancer. National Cancer Survivors Day on June 5th is dedicated to giving these courageous survivors a voice to help inspire and give hope to others who may be facing the same challenges. National Cancer Survivors Day also celebrates the medical professionals who have helped advance the technologies we have to fight this complex disease. Where once there were no treatment options, there are now different ways to provide therapy—including cord blood stem cells transplants.
With the media’s focus usually on ongoing stem cell research, it’s easy to lose sight of the progress that has already been made. Nearly 80 diseases are currently treatable with cord blood stem cells, including certain types of cancers. To date, almost 40 of the 210 units ViaCord has released have gone to cancer treatments.
In fact, you may have seen a story in the news recently and on our blog about a little girl named Harlow who developed a grapefruit-sized tumor at just a few months old. Following treatment that included chemotherapy and surgery, Harlow’s own stem cells (banked with ViaCord) were used in a stem cell transplant to help prevent the tumor from growing back. Harlow is now a happy and healthy 3 yr old that loves to dance, sing and watch her favorite movie, 101 Dalmations! National Cancer Survivors Day is the perfect time to celebrate this little survivor’s story and share her amazing tale.
Making a brother or sister into a hero
Siblings can also play an important role in a cancer treatment by donating their cord blood to a brother or sister in need. As in Harlow’s case, there are some types of childhood cancers that use the child’s own stem cells in treatment – an autologous transplant. However, many cord blood transplants are allogeneic, meaning the stem cells were donated.
The likelihood that a baby’s cord blood will be a match for siblings ranges from 25 to 75 percent, depending upon the acceptable match criteria determined by a doctor. One reason why transplants from family members are about twice as successful as those received from a non-related donor 2 is because of the lower possibility that the transplant will be rejected.Talk about becoming a sibling hero! We featured a sibling hero story on our blog where Brayden’s cord blood was saved and used to help big brother Nick in his fight against Leukemia.
Knowing the importance of sibling cord blood was the reason ViaCord partnered with the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute to create the Sibling Connection program. This program provides the ViaCord Complete Newborn Stem Cell Package™, which includes cord blood and cord tissue stem collection, processing and five years of storage at no cost to expecting parents who have a child in need of a transplant and meet the other enrollment requirements of the program. To learn more about the program click here.
Sharing stories of survival
From children to adults, sharing these stories of survival helps inspire others—what National Cancer Survivors Day is all about. There are events hosted in communities around the country where survivors and supporters can go to add their voice to the cause and provide hope to those diagnosed with cancer. To learn more about National Cancer Survivors Day or to get involved in one of these events, visit http://www.ncsdf.org. And be sure to share your stories in the comments at our Facebook® page or here on our blog.