Local families benefit from money raised at the ACS Cattle Barons' Ball

How you can help fight children's cancer

TAMPA - William Dewhurst seems to take fighting cancer in stride, coloring and talking sports while Doctor Kelly and her  nurse prepare to give him another round of chemotherapy.

William has Acute lymphocytic leukemia or A-L-L, a form of leukemia. The doctor says, "It's the most common form of childhood cancer and is treated with about three years of chemotherapy. "

What William may not fully understand is the significance of his treatment, not only for his future but for the future of other kids with cancer.  William is part of a clinical trial. Doctor Kelly says, "That trial has several different things were looking at.  One is the dosage of a chemotherapy drug that has been used for a very long time. Another is a new drug that is relatively early in its development. "

William's mom, Jill Dewhurst, explains why they enrolled him. "When I was in nursing school back in the 90's I took care of a little girl with T-cell ALL, the same diagnosis he has, and back then there was only a 20 percent chance of survival. It's a more aggressive form of leukemia. And for will now, that's reversed, and the survival rate is 80 percent and that's all because of research that has been done in the last twenty years and because of families who were willing to put their kids into trials to learn more information. "

And because of people willing to donate to organizations like American Cancer Society - which funds research and trials like the one William is in.

Gloria Giunta is the founder of The Cattle Barons' Ball, the bay area's largest fundraiser for The American Cancer Society. "We decided on a national basis to really look at the research programs especially for children in this area." Her goal - to make sure William and kids like him can celebrate becoming cancer survivors with a party of their own.

For more information, go to Linda Hurtado's Facebook page at   http://www.facebook.com/LindaHurtadoWFTS

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