Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
The family of 7-year-old Emma Whitehead are rejoicing after an experimental cancer treatment helped the girl beat leukemia that was threatening to take her life after two post-chemotherapy relapses. More from The New York Times:
“Desperate to save her, her parents sought an experimental treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one that had never before been tried in a child, or in anyone with the type of leukemia Emma had. The experiment, in April, used a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS to reprogram Emma’s immune system genetically to kill cancer cells.
The treatment very nearly killed her. But she emerged from it cancer-free, and about seven months later is still in complete remission. She is the first child and one of the first humans ever in whom new techniques have achieved a long-sought goal — giving a patient’s own immune system the lasting ability to fight cancer.
Emma had been ill with acute lymphoblastic leukemia since 2010, when she was 5, said her parents, Kari and Tom. She is their only child.
She is among just a dozen patients with advanced leukemia to have received the experimental treatment, which was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. Similar approaches are also being tried at other centers, including the National Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
“Our goal is to have a cure, but we can’t say that word,” said Dr. Carl June, who leads the research team at the University of Pennsylvania. He hopes the new treatment will eventually replace bone-marrow transplantation, an even more arduous, risky and expensive procedure that is now the last hope when other treatments fail in leukemia and related diseases.”
Image: Laboratory technician, via Shutterstock
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
In response to a Facebook campaign that garnered more than 150,000 supporters, the toymaker Mattel has announced it will make a bald doll as part of the Barbie franchise to offer support for children who are either going through cancer treatment or living with a condition that causes them to lose their hair.
On its Facebook page, Mattel announced that the doll will be released next year directly to children’s hospitals, but not to the public:
Play is vital for children, especially during difficult times. We are pleased to share with our community that next year we will be producing a fashion doll, that will be a friend of Barbie, which will include wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience. For those girls who choose, the wigs and head coverings can be interchanged or completely removed. We will work with our longstanding partner, the Children’s Hospital Association, to donate and distribute the dolls exclusively to children’s hospitals directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss. A limited number of dolls and monetary donations will also be made to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
The group that petitioned Mattel also is collecting signatures to urge toymaker Hasbro to create a bald GI Joe doll.
Image: Mattel logo, via http://logos.wikia.com/
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
A Barbie doll with no hair–bald because she had undergone cancer treatment–is in demand by a growing group of women who have battled the disease or are going through it with their children. The Associated Press reports:
Friends Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, who live on opposite coasts but have both been affected by the disease, hatched the idea to use Barbie for the movement because she’s such a popular children’s toy.
Bingham has lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments to treat lymphoma. Sypin’s 12-year-old daughter, Kin Inich, also lost her hair this year in her own battle with leukemia.
Mattel didn’t return calls on Wednesday seeking comment, but the women said they have contacted the company through some general form letters. In return, they said, they’ve received form letters that say Mattel doesn’t accept ideas from outside sources.
The women say a bald Barbie would provide a huge platform to raise awareness for children with cancer.
Barbie, all 11.5 inches of her, is one of the best-known toys of all time. She can sell for $10 at Wal-Mart or $7,000 on eBay.
As of this morning, the Facebook page had more than 36,500 fans.
(Image via: http://www.facebook.com)