Mother Hopes Son, Zach Gagnon’s Death from Ewing Sarcoma Spurs More Research Funding
Zachary was in remission until July 2015, until a routine chest X-ray revealed a growth on his right lung, which expanded into his diaphragm and other parts of his body.
The 13-year-old boy and his mother journeyed from their Home in Caribou to the nearest Cancer Care in Brewer – about 280 kilometres away .
“Chemotherapy is the most traumatic thing for parents to witness their child going through; you cannot describe it in words, it’s indescribable pain, worry, anxiety, feelings of helplessness – you’re at the mercy of the oncology world,” explained Zach’s mom, Peggy Michaud.
In July of 2015 he completed clinical trials of experimental chemotherapy but his cancer was unresponsive to this. The cancer spread and the tumours on his lungs continued to grow despite the treatment.
Because Zach’s second diagnosis was so grim and because the chemo was taking a toll on him, Peggy also put Zach onto alternative treatments to lessen the symptoms from the chemotherapy and perhaps slow the cancer They hit the road again, traveling to Portland, 300 miles from home, where Zach received intravenous injections of High Dose Vitamin C.
“It gives me a more positive outlook instead of thinking oh I’m going to be sick today it’s more like oh I’m going to have more energy today and be able to go walking or going to eat out or doing anything active,” Zach said.
The treatments and the travel took a toll on this single-mom’s budget, and Insurance wouldn’t cover the High Dose Vitamin C injections because they are not approved as a cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, Zachary earned his Angel wings on October 22, 2016 at 5:05 PM, at the tender age of 13, following a long 3 year battle with Ewing’s sarcoma.
Zachary Gagnon 21/11/2002 – 22/10/2016
The main problem is that there is insufficient funding for Childhood Cancer. We need more research; we need more answers. We need money for research into Medical as well as Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies .
The US National Cancer Institute gets about $5 billion dollars annually to fund cancer research. Breast cancer gets the largest chunk of that money at about $555 million. Childhood cancers get about $185 million. (In South Africa, an even smaller percentage is given for Childhood Cancer)
According to Dr. Stanley Chaleff, a physician at Maine Children’s Cancer Program, It comes down to numbers:
“To put this in a different perspective in the US approximately 250,000 women, unfortunately, are diagnosed with breast cancer a year and only about 12,000 to 13,000 children here are diagnosed with all the types of cancers.”
There have been some big strides made over the years. According to the National Cancer Institute the mortality rate from childhood cancers has dropped by half, but still roughly 1 in 5 children will die from childhood cancers.
For Peggy Michaud, that’s simply not good enough, especially when it’s not just a statistic but your child.What made it more upsetting for Peggy is that despite all her efforts, Zach failed to get better. The vitamin c treatments didn’t work and neither did the chemotherapy.
His chemo had to be stopped in July because of the high level of toxicity – his body couldn’t take it anymore, and the tumors continued to grow despite it.
“Although pediatric oncology has made strides over the past 20 years or more, there is still not enough being done to pursue research and funding for better treatments for pediatric oncology patients,” Gagnon said. ”I am appalled by the lack of funding for research and the lack of more effective and less toxic treatments for children with cancer.”
Every day, 46 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer; on average, one in four elementary schools has a child with cancer; and the average high school has two students who either have or have had cancer, according to the website of Candlelighters/Childhood Cancer Family Alliance. The disease occurs randomly in children, the alliance reports, without regard to ethnicity, socioeconomics or geographical region.
Gagnon said these facts “meant nothing” to her until Zachary was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma.
“Why I am doing what I’m doing is to educate people that there are loopholes in the system; there’s not enough research and funding for paediatric cancer,” she said.
Posted on 3 November, 2016, in Blog and tagged cancer treatment, Chemotherapy, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Childhood Cancer Awareness, Fighting Cancer, Little Fighters, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, paediatric cancer, Pediatric cancer, pediatric cancer awareness. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.