What Sen. Sherrod Brown Told his Colleagues about the Cancer Cluster


Source: Sandusky Register 

September 30, 2009 (Sandusky, OH) - Sen. Brown On Aug. 6, Alexa Brown, an 11-year-old from Clyde, Ohio, died of brain cancer. Alexa was an active, happy and beautiful little girl. Her courage in the face of such tragic circumstances was inspiring. Unfortunately, Alexa's battle with cancer is not an isolated case. Cancer is the No. 1 cause of nonaccidental death in children. It is responsible for more deaths from ages 1 to 19 than asthma and cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined. 

In northwest Ohio and the area around Clyde, 19 other children have been diagnosed with a form of invasive cancer in the last decade. Public health officials are trying to get to the bottom of the environmental origins of this cancer cluster, as it is called, but in too many cases we simply don't know enough about the disease to reach any definitive conclusions. 

It is this lack of knowledge and it is heartbreaking stories such as that of Alexa Brown that persuaded us in Congress to unanimously pass the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act last year. That bill, named after former Ohio Representative Deborah Pryce's 9-year-old daughter who died of cancer, established a national patient registry for pediatric cancer patients at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as authorized additional funding for pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. After passing that bill, it may have been tempting to just claim victory, but today, 14 months later, there is still much to be done to fully realize the goals of that legislation. 

The Senate version of the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill does not yet include the direct funding authorized by the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The House bill does. That is why today, on the last day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Senator Voinovich and I sent a letter to appropriators urging that the final Labor-HHS package include $10 million specifically for pediatric cancer research. 

Currently, the National Cancer Institute spends less than four percent of its budget on pediatric cancer. An extra $10 million would boost that percentage and help our effort to get to the bottom of this deadly problem. It would give hope to those in Clyde, Ohio, and northwest Ohio and across my state and across this great country who have seen cancer's destruction firsthand. I had a chance to meet with Alexa'sfamilyjust a few days after their daughter passed away. 

You can imagine, it was a very emotional time for them and for their neighbors and for their friends at church and for their friends throughout Clyde and that part of the state. But even in their state of mourning, Alexa's mom and dad stressed the importance of making sure other families don't have to go through the same thing. I think our colleagues couldn't agree more. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor. 

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(800) 458-6223

Childhood Cancer

Medical Information


Coping with Cancer

Get Involved

About Us