TULSA, Okla. – April 18, 2018 – Tulsa pediatric cancer survivor and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer Shagah Zakerion will travel to Washington, D.C., on April 22 to share her story and to urge lawmakers to increase funding for childhood cancer research.
Zakerion will join more than 200 other cancer patients, survivors and family members for Childhood Cancer Action Day on April 23-24. The two-day event is organized by the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, of which ACS CAN is a member. Participants will advocate for legislation that would advance pediatric cancer research and increase transparency and expertise for pediatric cancer at the National Institutes of Health. The legislation also expands research into the long-term side effects of childhood cancer and its treatments.
As a child, Zakerion struggled with low platelet and red blood cell counts — an unusual combination of anemia in children. Doctors kept an eye on her health, and it would be three years before a genetic test of her bone marrow identified a duplicate chromosome that would ultimately lead to her Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). If untreated, MDS becomes leukemia. Zakerion received a bone marrow transplant, but it would not be her last; the MDS returned after 10 years. In that decade, research produced a transplant protocol using half-match related donors that is just as successful as the allogeneic transplant Zakerion had when she was first diagnosed. Her sister’s half-match cells were used for her second transplant in June 2016. Zakerion is now cancer-free and hopes she stays that way.
This year, more than 15,000 children under the age of 21 will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States.
WHAT: Spokeswoman available to share her personal story with myelodysplastic syndrome and highlight the importance of funding and expanding childhood cancer research.
WHO: Shagah Zakerion is traveling to Washington, D.C., to urge her members of Congress to increase funding for childhood cancer research and to share her experience as a childhood cancer survivor.
WHEN: Available for interviews leading up to her departure and upon her return from Washington, D.C. Photos from the Childhood Cancer Action Day will be available after the event.