Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Blog

Behind the Science: Q+A with CHOP Technician Behind Clinical Trial

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 6:53 pm August 15, 2017

Earlier this August, we got to share the incredible story of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia‘s Dr. Mossé, and the newly launched phase 1 clinical trial from the research of her and her team, funded in part by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Today, we go behind the science with Dr. Mosse’s Research Technician for a Q+A on their journey to a potentially life changing treatment.

Guest Writer: Nicole Infarinato

Research Focus:  ALK-driven neuroblastoma

Title at Children’s Hospital of Philadeplhia (CHOP):  Research Technician

Why were you interested in this study with Dr. Mosse, and what was it like to work alongside her and her team? I was interested in Dr. Mosse’s research because I wanted to do work that would benefit human health.  In college, I planned to do this by going to medical school, but I soon realized that the best way for me to contribute to medicine was through research.  Dr. Mosse is committed to advancing novel cancer therapies for children, and it was amazing to me how she bridged the space between the bench and the bedside.  When she hired me and asked me to lead this study, I felt so privileged to be part of the process.  I was just as fortunate to work with Dr. Mosse; I can only describe her as an incredible human.  She is a strong, successful, and kind female mentor – a woman in science who truly promotes other women in science.  And my lab mates became some of my closest friends and were critical to this study.  It was a definitely a team effort, and I learned so much from working with them.

How important is pre-clinical work to the overall research? Both basic and pre-clinical research are essential for making progress in understanding and treating cancer.  Pre-clinical research is exciting because it is the final stage of drug discovery that takes place in the laboratory.  We use state-of-the-art cell-based assays and animal models to recapitulate human cancer and evaluate whether a treatment is likely to work for people.  Compelling evidence must be provided in order to move forward and design a clinical trial.

Why is pediatric cancer close to your heart/What was your motivation behind this research? Although we were in a research environment, the lab was intimately linked to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and working in that setting was a constant source of motivation.  I really felt up close to the disease.  On my way to work, I walked past sick children and their families.  In the lab, we received and processed patient tissue samples.  We had an exceptional young student on our team who was a neuroblastoma survivor himself.  I even shadowed Dr. Mosse in the clinic one day, which was a deeply moving experience that I’ll never forget.  I was extremely lucky to grow up with three healthy younger siblings, and they mean everything to me – they are my best friends.  It’s heartbreaking and unfair that families are torn apart by pediatric cancer.  It’s hard to lose motivation when you know your work could potentially change that.

How did you get past potential roadblocks on the journey to this clinical trial? Research can be really frustrating at times.  The learning curve can be steep, there’s a lot of failure, and nature is usually much more complex than you anticipate.  We certainly faced times like this during the project, and it forced me to become more resilient and confident in myself.  We were ultimately successful because we worked as a team to troubleshoot and persevere.  And Dr. Mosse empowers everyone she works with, and her faith in me was deeply encouraging in the face of roadblocks.

What are your hopes for this phase I clinical trial? Dr. Mosse said something in an interview I watched before joining her lab that always stuck with me.  She talked about how conventional cancer drugs are designed for a large group of patients, but they oftentimes make a relatively small difference for them.  She wants to design targeted therapies that will make a big difference, even if for a smaller group of patients.  I hope that this clinical trial will do that for children with neuroblastoma.  Our preclinical work demonstrated that this compound has unprecedented anti-tumor activity, so we are really hoping that children will have significantly improved treatment outcomes.

What would you say to anyone who is thinking about getting involved with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer? Research like ours would not be possible without funding from organizations like Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  I would encourage everyone to get involved in any way they can and be part of the effort to solve the enormous problem of childhood cancer.  This is a remarkable era for cancer research, and so much progress has already been made to improve therapies and outcomes.  If you contribute to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, you are helping to expedite the process of moving new drugs from the laboratory to children in the clinic.

To read more about the phase 1 clinical trial available to children this month, click here. To donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to fund more critically needed research into treatments for childhood cancer, click here.

photo: Nicole Infarinato

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Ber’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research,kids fighting cancer — The Good Cookies @ 1:56 pm August 8, 2017

 

Amber VanderMeer courageously shares the story of her son Ber and his fight with neuroblastoma. 

Our introduction to the world of pediatric cancer came in 2007, when our sweet and innocent son, Ber (“Bear”), was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma the week of his fourth birthday.

2007 was a very memorable year for our family.  We moved into our new house in January and in June we welcomed our precious daughter Elizabeth.  In October, Ber began to sporadically complain about some aches and pains. We took him to the doctor and it was suggested that he was simply having growing pains. Toward the end of November, Ber’s energy declined. He started running a low fever and he just wasn’t himself.  Ber turned four on Monday, November 26 and on Friday, November 30 we learned that Ber had cancer.

How did this happen?  How did we go from worrying about having enough goodie bags to trying to figure out how to fight pediatric cancer and save our son’s life?  We quickly developed a treatment plan and began the process of trying to get the upper hand on the cancer cells that were attempting to take over Ber’s small body.

With Ber, we talked about “strong medicine” that would make him feel bad, but was needed to kill the “bad cells”.  We gained a new vocabulary full of words like hickman lines and neutropenia.  We became members of a new community full of parents trying to save their children too.  We learned that most of the treatment options were toxic and would likely cause other complications such as hearing loss, heart damage, and even other forms of cancer.  When they hang a bag of IV chemotherapy that is labeled “caution – carcinogen” it sends up all kinds of red flags in your head. But what else can you do when this is the standard procedure?

Over the next seven and a half years we were incredibly fortunate to put together the right combination of treatments to rid Ber’s body of cancer.  This included chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, and a neuroblastoma vaccine.  Not all of the treatments would work the way we had hoped they would.  Clinical trials gave us additional treatment options and provided hope when we needed it most.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer funded the neuroblastoma vaccine that Ber received and is dedicated to raising money to fund less toxic treatment options for pediatric cancer patients.  We are eternally grateful and want to encourage others to support this cause.

It’s so easy to send cookies to someone, host a bake sale, organize a hat day, and make others aware of the fact that sadly only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is dedicated to all types of pediatric cancer combined.  Everyone has the ability to make a difference in the lives of children fighting cancer.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

To learn more about the phase 1 clinical trial, funded in part by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, available this month for kids just like Ber, click here. To donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to fund research into new, innovative treatments for the #1 disease killer of kids in the U.S., click here.

 

Photos: Ber & his family.

From Good Cookie to Clinical Trial

How Your Support Has Helped Develop A New Treatment For Pediatric Cancer

Today is a good day. Today we are filled with hope. Because today marks the launch of a clinical trial for a new, less toxic treatment for children battling cancer. Days like these are so meaningful because it means that we are doing what we have set out to do, which is to empower and inspire Good Cookies all across the world to join us in raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research! We are very excited to announce the news of this phase 1 clinical trial with you today and to share more details of this important story over the next few months.

We sharing lots of information on our social media, through our email newsletter, and we will be posting a series of blog posts written by families with children who have battled or are still battling neuroblastoma, the deadly form of cancer that this new drug is designed to treat. We hope you stay tuned for these personal stories and are inspired to be the best Good Cookie you can be!

One Doctor, Years of Work, and HOPE at the Launch of a Clinical Trial.

It all starts with Yael P. Mossé, MD and her brilliant work at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Mossé is an attending physician at CHOP’s Cancer Center with a special interest in neuroblastoma. Her work led to a grant submission to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2015, and approval by our Medical Advisory Board. It was the first grant Mossé received for this stage of pre-clinical work on the promising new drug, called Lorlatinib.

Six months after receiving the first grant from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, Dr. Mossé’s results were moving ahead so rapidly that the NANT Consortium [New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy] and the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, all began to merge interests to move toward the clinical trial phase. Alongside these developments came another $200,000 grant from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to insure the testing and data were of the highest quality in hopes of benefitting children with neuroblastoma.The work has led to the launch of the trial’s enrollment process at several sites including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and will become available at all 16 centers over the next several weeks.

The phase 1 study is enrolling patients at the following 16 centers:

UCSF School of Medicine    

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

Children’s Hospital Colorado

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital

Cook Children’s Healthcare System

Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada  

Seattle Children’s Hospital      

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta   

University of Chicago, Comer Children’s Hospital

Royal Marsden Hospital, London, England

Institut Curie, Paris, France

Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

There are so many Tough Cookies out there who could benefit from a new treatment such as this one. And although we cannot know if this first trial will lead to a second, or to a cure, we believe that this trial will serve as a source of hope for the children and families out there who are in the fight of their lives.

With your help, Cookies for Kid’s Cancer will continue funding this type of research and working alongside brilliant doctors like Dr. Mossé and respected research institutes like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to develop new treatments for precious children who are battling this disease.

We will be sharing more details about this clinical trial, the story behind of how it all came together, and ways that you can help continue to fund these developments in pediatric cancer research across our social media channels so be sure to stay tuned! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

The Bucket List Bake Sale

Filed under: community fundraising ideas,kids fighting cancer — Tags: , — The Good Cookies @ 9:01 pm July 11, 2017

 

Hello, Good Cookies! Today’s blog was written by fellow Good Cookie Rachel Kirkham, who put her own spin on the classic bake sale. 

The Bucket List Bake Sale

Not long after Liam Witt’s passing, I stumbled upon his mother’s blog. I was a new mother, and my heart instantly broke as I read about their journey. If possible, my heart also pieced itself back together when I saw that they were working to help kids like Liam through their charity, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. It was from that moment on that I decided I’d follow Gretchen Witt to the ends of the earth if it meant that children like Liam could get help battling this horrible killer.

I have since met Gretchen and her family and have done anything and everything I can to help when they need it — be it volunteering at their annual Chef’s for Kids gala, or educating people about this amazing organization. The one thing that I was always too afraid to do was what Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was known for — the very roots of their foundation: a bake sale.

I am three years away from my 40th birthday, and I have managed to create a hefty bucket list of things I want to accomplish before that big day. Many of the items on my list are superficial and silly: meet Julie Andrews, run a sub 2-hour half marathon, successfully make a meal my children will eat. And some goals are lofty: plan and execute a big-city race benefiting charity, travel through Greece with my husband, take my kids to Austria. But, at the very top of my list is to finally conquer my fear of having a bake sale for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

Don’t ask me why I have been afraid to do it. I’m sure it is because I’m worried I will fail in some way. I don’t want to ask people for help, I don’t want to beg for donations…. blah, blah, blah. My list of excuses was miles long, but my list of reasons to do it was even longer. I knew that this year was the best time to do it because it would kick off my bucket list and my kids are finally old enough to help and truly understand the purpose. My daughter Lucy is the same age Liam was when he lost his battle to cancer. I look at her and can’t imagine my life without her, and I would be remiss if I didn’t help this cause in some small way.  

I have rallied my neighborhood pals and begged for baked goods. I have talked to city council. I have secured a location with major foot traffic. I have nailed down donations from local vendors. I have gathered a gaggle of cute kids, and even have friends and family from afar who can’t be here, but have donated to our fundraising page online. I have put myself out there, and have grown so much from this journey that I’m not sure who is winning more, me or the kids we aim to help. 

When asked what my inspiration was to add this bake sale to my bucket list, I was able to instantly answer with one person’s name: Gretchen Witt. I look and her and see hope for so many kids. I often face hard days and think of her and her strength and know that if Gretchen can get through a day, so can I. I want to do this bake sale to thank her in a small way for being such an integral part of my life. If she could do it, I could do it. 

The best part about this whole journey has been teaching my kids what it means to truly give back. I feel like they have a connection with Liam somehow and have taken in his story so deeply, and I am grateful for that. I now know why it took me so long to get the guts to have this bake sale: I needed my kids to help me be brave.

So, if you see our bake sale in New Jersey, we will be the loud ones with green balloons and orange shirts giving our hearts to Gretchen, Larry, Ella, and Liam, and everyone we have met on this journey.

– Rachel

Inspired? You can still make an online donation to Rachel’s Bucket List Bake Sale fundraising page here, OR you can register for you own bake sale or other fundraising event.

 Visit our Facebook page for more fundraising event ideas!

childhood cancer bake sale

Spring is Here! Big News for May!

Filed under: community fundraising ideas — Tags: — The Good Cookies @ 10:08 pm March 20, 2017

 

Happy first day of spring! We have fun and exciting news to share about “getting on board” this May.

1. WE HAVE A MATCH! Every dollar raised during the month of May will be matched, up to $100,000, thanks to a generous gift from The Smith Family Foundation.

2. NEED IDEAS? Host a bake sale, a school fundraiser or a dress down day at work. You can also encourage people to get active for Cookies by organizing a fun run or a mini-golf tournament.

3. UNIQUE EVENT! Liam Witt, the son of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer founders Gretchen and Larry Witt, would have had his “Golden Birthday” this year: turning 13 on May 13th. This day just happens to be World Cocktail Day. We’re celebrating with a toast to honor Liam and kids everywhere who are battling cancer. Since the best place to make a toast is gathered with friends in a bar, ask your favorite bar or restaurant to pick a day in May to give a portion of sales back to Cookies. If you’re interested in learning more, we can help with tips and ideas for getting your favorite local spot on board. We have gifts for bartenders who join you. Imagine a few dozen bars or restaurants around the country giving back this May with every dollar doubled for childhood cancer research?

TO GET STARTED: follow this link. Click the orange JOIN button on the left of the page to register your own event and start a fundraising page. When asked how you heard about us, choose “Smith Family Foundation.”

Be a Good Cookie and get on board this May to make a difference for childhood cancer research!

Art Auction at Chefs for Kids’ Cancer Cocktail Reception

Filed under: community fundraising ideas,corporate fundraising — The Good Cookies @ 10:52 pm February 3, 2017

Guests at the 2017 Chefs for Kids’ Cancer NYC event will have the opportunity to bid on works of art by 19 artists from around the globe in an exclusive silent auction gallery at the cocktail reception. Artists working from New York City to Israel are represented with pieces that cover an array of art mediums. 15 adult artists, some of whom exhibit at MOMA, have contributed unique works for this special event. Inspired by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and by kids helping other kids, four children have also donated drawings and paintings.

The exhibit is curated with love by Good Cookie Daniela Ben-Zion and hung by Sean Cavanaugh. Special thanks to our artists for donating their work, shown here. Click on the individual art pieces to see the artists’ biographies.

 

Share the Love

Filed under: kids fighting cancer — The Good Cookies @ 3:00 pm January 24, 2017

January 24th, marks six years since Liam Witt’s battle with cancer came to an end. On Valentine’s Day 2011, hundreds gathered in New York City to celebrate the life of Liam Witt, the little boy who inspired his parents to start Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. While cancer cut his life short, Liam’s LOVE for people, for living, and for life has become his true, enduring legacy.

Liam Witt

Love Inspired Action…

Just 2 ½-years-old when diagnosed, Liam’s parents, Larry and Gretchen Witt, quickly learned of the lack of treatment options for pediatric cancers.  When his oncologist shared, “It’s not science that’s holding us back, it’s funding,” Gretchen knew she had to take action. But first, Liam had to be ushered through months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Throughout the process, his bravery and compassion inspired his parents. When he was declared to have no evidence of disease, they began to think of how to help other children.

The 2007 holiday season was approaching as Gretchen thought of ways to raise funds for a promising new treatment. She realized she needed something so sweet and comforting that it would conquer the fear associated with pediatric cancer. The answer? Cookies. With the help of 250 volunteers, Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies – in person, online, any way she could – to raise funds. That original “bake sale” raised more than $420,000. Before long, people began reaching out asking, “What can I do to help?”

Photo Jan 24, 2 35 06 PM

A Transcending Love…

Reaching far beyond his family, Liam’s love knew no boundaries. Though he battled cancer off and on for nearly four years, he had special relationships with everyone he encountered, from doctors, nurses and teachers, to the firefighters of Engine 1/Ladder 24, the station he passed on his way home from school or treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. 

He called the firefighters his “guys,” and made sure they all knew he loved them. And they weren’t afraid to show their love in return. In their station, they gave Liam his own locker, suit and helmet. On January 24, 2011, Liam’s battle came to an end. Suddenly, the numbers of his beloved Engine 1/Ladder 24 took on a special meaning.

For his Valentine’s Day memorial service,  an entire street in New York City was closed off as Liam’s “guys” honored him with a hero’s farewell. The message that day was to Love Like Liam. Today, his locker at the firehouse still serves as a reminder of that message.

- Liam Witt gets a hero s farewell YouTube

A Legacy of Love…

Liam’s love continues to inspire us and people everywhere. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $12.5 million, funding 91 research projects, including 34 that are now treatments available for children battling cancer today.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer isn’t just about Liam. It’s not about one type of cancer. It’s about every child, everywhere. Every child deserves a fighting chance. As long as there are treatments sitting on shelves waiting for funding, we’ll be fighting to move them forward. This year, we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in sharing the love.

Share the Love cookies 2

Three simple way to help this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Order cookies. Delicious and all-natural, 100% of the profits goes to pediatric cancer research.
  2. Make a donation. You can select the type of cancer your gift supports, and feel good knowing your contribution will be used to find less toxic, more effective treatments for pediatric cancer research.
  3. Host an event. Thousands of bake sales and other grassroots events have been held in all 50 states and in 16 countries. No effort is too small to make a difference.   Register here and we’ll be in touch to support you every step of the way! #BeAGoodCookie

Breaking Records and Ringing Bells to Celebrate

Filed under: corporate fundraising — Tags: — The Good Cookies @ 7:25 pm November 23, 2016
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Founder Gretchen Witt is joined by donor Janette Liptak, NYSE President Tom Farley, Milk Bar Founder & MasterChef Judge Christina Tosi, and 11 children to ring the closing bell of the NYSE.

 Ringing in the holiday season has never been so sweet.

Yesterday when The New York Stock Exchange hosted Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to ring the closing bell, it was a record-breaking day for many reasons. The Dow closed at an all-time high of over 19,000. A gang of children on the podium were joined by founder Gretchen Holt Witt, and at exactly 4:00 p.m. when Ari Schlanger rang the bell and Taber Cannon brought the gavel down, they set the record for youngest people to ever have that honor.

That’s not all we’re ringing bells about. We are also celebrating the record-breaking $250,000 Challenge Gift Campaign happening now. The Challenge Gift, our largest ever, was made possible by the generosity of loyal donors Janette and David Liptak, who have pledged to match all money raised this holiday season up to $250,000. All donations, cookie orders, and grassroots events will be matched until the end of the year. Let’s all work towards a common goal so that on New Year’s Eve we’ll be ringing bells and popping champagne corks!

And last, but certainly not least, we are celebrating the announcement of the record-breaking day in our efforts to fund research aimed at pediatric cancers: the 2016 Cookies for Kids’ Cancer research grants. This year’s 11 grants to tremendously talented researchers across the country bring our grant total to nearly $12.5 million. That’s a lot of Good Cookies.

We were proud to ring the NYSE closing bell in honor of you. With your generosity and continued support we hope to make the 2016 holiday season record-breaking as well.

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$250,000 Challenge Gift Campaign

Filed under: community fundraising ideas,corporate fundraising — The Good Cookies @ 8:51 pm November 1, 2016

Rise to the Challenge Gift

Join our Challenge Gift Campaign. From November 1 through December 31, 2016, all gifts and donations to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer will be doubled, up to $250,000. The Challenge Gift Campaign was made possible by the generosity of loyal donors Janette and David Liptak who have pledged to match all money raised this holiday season up to $250,000.

“We were inspired by the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer organization because their mission is primarily focused on funding research to find cures for pediatric cancers,” said the Liptaks. “It’s a very specific mission and it’s been a very effective approach. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is literally saving lives every day. So we are happy that we are in a position to be able to support their mission in a meaningful way.”

We offer many ways for everyone to join the campaign and double your donation for childhood cancer research this holiday season:

Host a Holiday Event

Gather friends and family to have fun and make a difference. From bake sales to cookie swaps, holiday events are great ways to spread holiday cheer while raising funds for critically needed research.

Send Cookies

Our delicious, all-natural cookies are the perfect holiday gift. With the 10 mouth-watering flavors and 100% of the profits going to pediatric cancer research, our cookies are the gift that truly gives twice.

Make a Donation

At Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, you can select the type of pediatric cancer your gift supports. In time for year-end tax-deductible donations, give in someone’s honor, and see more ways to help. Cancer remains the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S., but with your support, we can continue to make a difference.

#DoriesCookies

Filed under: childhood cancer research — Tags: , — The Good Cookies @ 8:43 pm October 19, 2016

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Calling all Good Cookie Bakers! 

Beloved baker and longtime Good Cookie friend Dorie Greenspan is encouraging fans to get their bake on this holiday season to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

Want to help? Here’s how:

1. REGISTER your event. 

2. In the dropdown menu under “How did you hear about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer,” choose “Dorie Greenspan” to receive a FREE Bake Sale Starter Kit with everything you need to brand your event from stickers, to treat bags, to donation jars and more!

3. Host a bake sale, cookie swap or other event in your community.  When you raise $1,000, you’ll receive a FREE signed copy of Dorie’s new book, Dorie’s Cookies and when you raise $2,500, you will receive a signed copy of Dorie’s new book AND be entered for a chance to win a day of baking with Dorie!

4. Make a recipe from Dorie’s Cookies (her new cookbook!) and post a picture to your Instagram page tagging @Cookies4Kids and using the hashtag #DoriesCookies to trigger a $5 donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. 

Added bonus: every dollar raised, up to $250,000, will be matched from now through December 31st!  

Cookies for Kid’s Cancer is a national 501(c)3 non-profit committed to raising funds for research to develop new, less toxic treatments for pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S. 

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