“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Collaboration is a common buzzword spoken frequently in forward-thinking businesses and organizations. It is the understanding that the sum of everyone’s collective efforts provides a far better end result. In the fight against childhood cancer, there are many organizations that are inter-connected as we work together to fundraise for the development novel therapies, awareness-based initiatives, and family support programs.
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer’s (CAC2) 6th Annual Summit held in Columbus, Ohio. The conference brought together a dedicated group of researchers, physicians, parents, survivors, and advocates, each of us with unique insights collectively helping further the cause of finding a cure for childhood cancer.
When CAC2 was founded back in 2011, the mission was to bring together organizations and individuals to explore collaborative ideas to raise awareness for childhood cancer. Regardless of each singular organization’s personal mission, the end goal of CAC2 has always been to develop a coordinated approach to create better outcomes for pediatric cancer patients.
As I sat at the meeting, amongst this steadfast group of childhood cancer advocates, I was struck by the diversity yet commonality we all had in our reasons for attending. While we each came to the meeting because of the unique impact childhood cancer made on us personally, we shared a common understanding that the only way we can effectively advance a vision and mission is to work collaboratively. The comment of one father resonated with me deeply, “Any of us who have lost a child will never again have the one thing we want most; we can only hope to make it better for others.”
Pediatric cancer must be a priority for the nation. Why? The burden on our children is far too great for both treatment and survivorship. As my friend and esteemed Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group Dr. Peter Adamson said, “we have to change the dialog around pediatric cancer and restore a sense of urgency.” Pediatric cancers are vastly underfunded as the business model for funding pediatric cancers is centered almost exclusively around philanthropy. A change in dialog must include the economic and funding innovation necessary give children the power of hope.
At G9, the original vision was to collaboratively harness the power of gold, a color we did not select, and September, a month we did not choose, to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer research. We still hold true to this outlook and appreciate the partners we have met along the way. The dialog for pediatric exists . . . it exists with every member of CAC2, but in order to resonate far and wide the dialog must be heard.
Collaboration must not simply be buzzword; rather, it should represent an opportunity for forward-thinking businesses and organizations to add their voice and strength to the innovation of saving the lives of kids and providing hope for families who are impacted by childhood cancer today and tomorrow.