The Georgia Cancer Center receives $1 Million for pediatric cancer programs

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- `The Georgia Cancer Center received a one million dollar gift from the Press On Foundation that will help further support research for pediatric cancer programs.

The goal is to make the fight against cancer a little easier for children– through a new treatment called Immunotherapy.

“What we’re trying to do is teach the body’s own immune system to find and attack cancer in a way that would be less toxic than standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation,” says Dr. Theodore Johnson an Associate Professor at Augusta University.

Doctor Theodore Johnson says the clinical trial focuses on those who experienced a cancer relapse.

“100 days after his transplant he relapsed and we were told there were no curative options and to go to Disney world and call hospice,” says Tara Simkins the Co-Founder of Press On Fund.

Tara Simkins is the Co-Founder of the Press On Fund and mother to Brennan, a childhood cancer survivor. She says she understands the need for more effective treatment options for children battling cancer.

“So, what we’re hoping is that eventually this research will be able to be put at the front end of the therapy and not at the back end. So you’re not just extending lives, you’re saving them,” says Simkins.

The focus of the first trail was centered around kids with brain tumors who relapsed, but there are plans to go far beyond that.

“The institution’s priority and the children’s hospital is building a bone marrow unit. It will take a few years to unfold,” says Dr.Johnson.

Implementing the bone marrow unit would be the first of its kind since no bone marrow transplants are provided to children in Augusta.

“The hardest thing for families is to be able to put everything that they’re doing aside, the jobs that they work, the other kids they take care of, to come to Georgia once a month to get their treatment. But we’ve been able to make it work,” says Dr. Johnson.

There are different ways Augusta university and its partners raise money for programs like Pediatric Immunotherapy. Later in the month, the president’s gala will take place and all funds raised will go towards the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

“We would have to rely on philanthropy in order for us to really do the groundbreaking stuff and this gift is a perfect example of what that can do,” says Dr.Brooks Keel the president of Augusta University.

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