Opinion Columns & Blogs

Help a SLO-based organization fight pediatric cancer

Frank Kalman created a nonprofit organization to aid in cancer research after his daughter, Calli, was diagnosed with cancer.
Frank Kalman created a nonprofit organization to aid in cancer research after his daughter, Calli, was diagnosed with cancer.

Here’s a chilling statistic: In 1900, 1 person in 16 got cancer. Now, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, almost 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will get cancer.

“That means all us will be impacted by this horrible disease directly or indirectly,” says Frank Kalman, executive director of the San Luis Obispo-based Kids’ Cancer Research Foundation. “Why?” he asks. “The proliferation of the chemical industry during the Industrial Age and more so during World War II, and since then, after introducing thousands of chemicals without any understanding of their impact. Eighty-five percent of cancer is environmentally caused.”

Kalman’s daughter, Calli — as noted in this column before — contracted neuroblastoma about a decade ago. Although she’s been clean of her cancer for a number of years, Kalman takes each pediatric case personally.

Now for some better news: Kalman’s foundation helped fund a cutting edge immunotherapy clinical trial called CAR T-Cell therapy. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, the T-Cell genetic process is non-invasive, which is a huge step forward in preserving a child’s immune system. The clinical trial found that 30 percent of those kids taking part didn’t suffer a relapse, which, in the case of pediatric cancer research, is a huge victory. It also appears to have some success in the treatment of lymphoma and leukemia.

If, God forbid, you believe a friend or family member may have cancer, the Kalmans found several effective strategies in dealing with Calli’s disease: Get at least three opinions; research the type of cancer diagnosed for your loved one; and go to a hospital that specializes in and focuses on that type of cancer.

“Check with the National Institutes of Health for answers to these questions,” he suggests. According to New Orleans pediatrician Chrystal Louis, the NIH was impressed enough with the results of the T-Cell trial that it is worthy of a multimillion-dollar investment in further research.

Here’s a final sobering statistic: On average, cancer robs a person of 15 years of life; breast cancer, 18 years; for pediatrics, 69.3 years. Those are simply unacceptable numbers.

If you’d like to help lessen the odds, and need a tax shelter before the end of the year, I honestly can’t think of a better organization than the Kids’ Cancer Research Foundation. Kalman can be reached at 550-7682; www.endkidscancer.org or at 11150 Fuller Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.