Reaching for the Moon

This year marks the 50th year since the moon landing. A remarkable feat of human ingenuity and the result of incredible perseverance. But a lesser known fact is that a full seven years before Neil Armstrong took those famous steps for man and humanity, his 2 year old daughter, Karen, died of DIPG, an incredibly aggressive and unrelenting form of childhood Brain Cancer. Unbelievably, in the 56 years since Armstrong’s daughter passed away there has been no material advancement in treatment for this kind of Brain Cancer.

The (terrifying) statistics

DIPG has a 5-year survival rate of under 1% - in fact the average life span of children with this sort of cancer is less than one year. These statistics have not changed since Karen passed in 1962. I ask, how can there have been no change in this horrifying statistic? How can we have achieved so much during the intervening 50 years, but not even nudged the dial in relation to this disease. 

More broadly, the overall Brain Cancer survival rates have remained virtually unchanged since the 1980’s, with most patients dying within just a few years of diagnosis. Today, Brain Cancer kills more children than any other disease and more adults under 40 than any other cancer. It hits young adults in their most productive years and the outcomes associated with the disease are debilitating and often don’t just impact the patient, but have ongoing implications for their families.

A New Hope

In 2017 Greg Hunt (Federal Health Minister) announced a brave new plan – “to double survival rates of Brain Cancer patients over the next ten years”. The government has backed this with a $100m+ investment in research. This investment has been bolstered by additional contributions from hard working charities such as Cure Brain Cancer, Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and the Mark Hughes Foundation.

The target to double survival rates is brave and ambitious. Given that very little change has been achieved in the last half a century you might consider the commitment to doubling the 5 year survival rate (which is currently dismal, at just 20%) in a decade seems a bit… foolish. But I am very much of the belief that such achievements can be attained if the community works together. By purchasing from this website you are helping to contribute to this target.  

All profits from the sale of the products on this site are donated to Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer to assist the organization to continue to fund research and patient advocacy. So you can sip your coffee, show off your water bottle and wear your T-shirt knowing that you are helping to advance this cause. Thank you.