Clinical trials can be lifesaving – and you’re helping make them possible

At just three weeks old, Toby was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called infantile fibrosarcoma.
At just three weeks old, Toby was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called infantile fibrosarcoma.

At just three weeks old, Toby was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called infantile fibrosarcoma. His treatment options have always been complicated, but now, a new trial drug may not only save his life but prevent him having his left arm amputated. Here, Associate Professor Geoff McCowage explains just how important donations from kind people like you are, and how they help create new treatment options for kids like Toby.

Associate Professor Geoff McCowage has dedicated his entire career to not only treating kids with cancer as a doctor but working behind the scenes in the lab to develop new and more effective treatments. He says:

Seeing too many children’s lives cut short is a powerful motivation, but then seeing other kids surviving cancer who even just a few years ago wouldn’t have survived is incredible – that really shows me we’re making a difference.

One of the most exciting parts of research, Geoff says, is clinical trials – the stage where real kids fighting cancer in hospital get access to the newest treatments available. He continues to say:

We get to see if that treatment can save more kids like Toby. It’s not a case of rolling the dice as many people think; rather, years of expert lab studies have gotten us to the stage of a clinical trial.

In fact, we know that kids who are treated for cancer as part of a clinical trial have a higher chance of survival than those who aren’t.

One child to recently be enrolled on a clinical trial is one-year-old Toby, who’s being treated with an exciting new targeted drug. Previously, his treatment involved intense rounds of chemotherapy for a tumour on his left arm, leaving his parents with the heartbreaking decision to either have his arm amputated or continue with the harsh chemo.

It's still not clear if the new drug will make Toby’s tumour go away completely, but for now the results are promising and his tumour is shrinking! Currently, amputation is not being considered after his two rounds of the new drug, he’ll continue receiving it for the foreseeable future in the hope he’ll continue responding. As Associate Professor McCowage says:

Being able to give children those new treatments means that we can look mothers like Toby’s in the eye and tell them their precious child is getting the very best and newest treatment in the world. They couldn’t go to Paris, or London or New York and access something better – they’re getting the best here in Australia thanks to gifts from people like you.

But sadly, it’s not always that simple. Trial drugs aren’t appropriate for every child, and even when they are, lack of funding holds researchers back, Associate Professor McCowage continues:

All too often, there are times when we can’t do research or open trials to use new treatments and help kids like Toby. Even if a research trial’s potential is truly revolutionary, sometimes we simply do not have the resources to do it.

Not being able to run those trials or new research projects because of a lack of money is truly heartbreaking − it means kids like Toby might miss out on a potentially lifesaving new drug.

Only with the dedicated support of people like you can researchers can continue developing more effective kids’ cancer treatments and running clinical trials like the one Toby is currently benefitting from. With such an overwhelming need to continue opening trials and researching new drugs, your ongoing generosity is vital to helping more kids like Toby.

The breakthroughs made are here to stay, and as we climb closer to a world where all kids survive cancer, you will have been an integral part of making it happen. Thank you for everything you do.

With a gift of $108 today, you could fund a researcher for two hours and help them develop more effective treatments for other kids like Toby.

Donate today