Note: This site remains open until March 31, 2015. Natasha's family is very grateful for continued donations.
Our daughter Natasha was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in January 2008. Natasha underwent several neurosurgeries, conformal radiation and four cycles of systemic chemo.
During this time Natasha confronted many complications: a persisent skull infection that did not heal until part of her skull was permanently removed (she later underwent a bone graft after wearing a helmet for seven months to protect part of her brain); the dangerous infection MRSA, and multiple hospitalizations due to life-threatening infections arising from a depleted immune system. Although Natasha rebounded very well, both socially and academically, irreparable damage to the optic nerve resulted in a severe visual cut in her left field.
In August 2010, Natasha experienced a devastating recurrence resulting in craniospinal radiation and experimental targeted chemo. (Note that unlike adult cancers and brain tumors, there is not a single FDA-approved treatment for pediatric malignant brain tumors.) In March 2012 she started exhibiting symptoms of bone marrow dysfunction, due to extended chemo and radiation. She continues to rely on blood and platelet donations. Thanks to all who donated blood.
Natasha has a gentle soul, an artist's eye and a tender heart. Her proudest achievement is raising a litter of newborn feral kittens until they were ready to be adopted. She loves all animals and babies, and anyone who makes her laugh. She is fiercely loyal to her parents and sister, every friend and to those teachers who have supported our family; has a unique empathy with anyone vulnerable, even while facing greater challenges herself, and never overlooks an act of kindness.
Please support our precious child.
We are counting on the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to fund research that could save the lives of children like Natasha. Unlike many nonprofits dedicated to childhood cancers, the majority of the PBTF's funding goes directly to research (rather than toys, treats and vacations). The PBTF awards grants to scientists researching the causes and potential treatments of pediatric brain tumors. Recipients include Natasha's neurosurgery/oncology team at her hospital, UCSF, here in San Francisco.
We very much appreciate all donations, however modest. Donating through this site is totally secure. It is also the most efficient and cost-effective way to make a contribution to our fundraising efforts. Thank you for your support.
Natasha's mom, Suzanne
To read my story about Natasha, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/13/AR2009031302414.html
To read my story about new treatments for pediatric brain tumors, go to: http://www.ucsf.edu/science-cafe/articles/ucsf-turns-to-targeted-treatments-to-boost-brain-tumor-survival-in-children/
To read my story about post traumatic stress disorder in parents of young cancer patients, go to: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/06/DD7U1HCPMG.DTL
To read my story about Natasha's tumor recurrence, go to page 4: http://www.pbtfus.org/pubs/caringhand/2011/CH_Summer2011.pdf
To read my story about living with the new normal after a child's brain tumor diagnosis, go to page 4: http://www.pbtfus.org/pubs/helpinghand/2012/Summer_2012_Helping_Hand.pdf
OUR FUNDRAISING/AWARENESS EFFORTS FOR THE PBTF!
Our school, Holy Name, has sold T-shirts and bracelets in honor of TEAM NATASHA.
Ken is running the half-marathon in honor of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St. Jude has collaborated with our hospital, UCSF, in devising Natash's treatment plans. See www.stjude.org. Please wish Ken luck!
Patxi's restaurant on Irving and 9th Ave. hosted TEAM NATASHA for the PBTF, on Martin Luther King Day. We had a record turnout.
We have organized a fundraising dinner at Chevy's, a bake sale outside Ortega library and held a weekly spare change drive outside Natasha's former school. Ken completed the Napa Marathon last spring.
To increase awareness, I visit classrooms pro bono and talk to children about how they can support a classmate with cancer. Let me know if you are interested in having me talk at your child's school.
I welcome new fundraising ideas.To contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you ♥♥♥
... to everyone who had made a donation, Natasha's friends who have asked for donations to the PBTF in lieu of birthday gifts, or helped our fundraising drive with their own projects, including the Sunset Brownie Troop. To Holy Name School, led by Principal Cosmos, for providing a shining example of compassion and caring. Outstanding.
Natasha and M., Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your mom. Always love you, always so proud of you!
FACTS ABOUT PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS
An estimated 4,030 new cases of brain and CNS tumors in children are expected to be diagnosed in 2010. SOURCE: Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States.
Brain tumors are the leading cause of pediatric cancer death, accounting for 30 percent of cancer fatalities in children under 19. SOURCE: National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The most common age for a pediatric brain tumor diagnosis is between infancy and 8. In contrast, the median age of a breast cancer diagnosis is 61. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is superior to pediatric brain tumor survivorship, and just one percent of breast cancer fatalities occurs in women under 35. The median age of a prostate cancer diagnosis is 68. The median age of a colon cancer diagnosis is 71. SOURCE: NCI, SEER statistics (2002-2006).
Unlike other benign tumors, benign brain tumors may recur and can result in death.
There are more than 120 types of brain tumors, making effective treatment very complicated.
Both the incidence of brain tumors and the treatment of brain tumors can cause devastating physiological and cognitive impairments.
Unlike the most common childhood cancer (a type of leukemia known as acute lymphocytic/lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL), progress in pediatric brain tumor survival has been modest. Treatment for pediatric brain tumors is 'about 10-20 years behind that of ALL.' SOURCE: Nalin Gupta, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Neurological Surgery, UCSF Children's Hospital.
Five-year 'survivors' of pediatric brain tumors faced 13 times the risk of premature death (in later childhood or early adulthood) as age-matched cancer-free North Americans, due to the lifelong risk of recurrence and secondary malignancies resulting from the toxicity of treatment (radiation and chemo). This risk of secondary malignancies increases with age. SOURCE: JNCI, July 2009.
Five-year 'survivors' of pediatric brain tumors, together with pediatric patients with other cancers, faced risks of developing congestive heart failure and heart attack in their twenties and thirties, that were many times higher than their age-matched peers. This was due to the toxicity of treatment. SOURCE: BMJ, Dec. 2009.
* Written by Suzanne Leigh and approved by Nalin Gupta, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Pediatric Neurological Surgery, UCSF Children's Hospital. See: http://neurosurgery.ucsf.edu/index.php/research_BTRC_pbtfus_award.html