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Tampa mom fights for better treatments for children with cancer

Her 5-month-old daughter died after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in 2016.

A Tampa mother is finding success in her push to find better treatments for children battling cancer. Monica Angel and the nonprofit Cannonball Kids' cancer want to clarify legislation that prioritizes research for the deadliest cancers.

The group drafted and submitted language addressing the gap in the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act. It was passed in 2012 and signed by President Barack Obama in 2013. 

The act directs the National Cancer Institute to research cancers with five-year survival rates of less than 50 percent. NCI currently puts adult cancers like pancreatic and lung in that category. 

The language from Angel and the Cannonball Kids' foundation clarifies to add certain childhood cancers, some of which have survival rates of zero percent. It was submitted by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla).

The language is included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) funding bill which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee. 

Angel was clear to point out that there is not a dollar amount attached to this, and it does not move any adult cancers out of that category.

Previous: Childhood cancer 'is not profitable': The fight for funding through the eyes of Emmi Grace Angel

Lobbying lawmakers to focus on pediatric cancer is Angel’s passion. Her 5-month-old daughter, Emmi Grace Angel, died in 2016 after battling an aggressive brain tumor. Emmi Grace was treated with drugs designed and developed for adults. In fact, many children face the same cancer treatments. New drugs have not been developed specifically for children in more than 20 years.

“What we’re saying is, ‘National Cancer Institute we need your help,’ because a lot of these cancers are so deadly that private foundations just can’t afford to fund them. And so, if government isn’t there to solve the number one killer of our children, if government can’t step in and say, ‘We’re going to do something about this because this is killing so many American children,’ who will?” said Angel.

The language still needs to be presented in the Senate. 

10News reached out to both Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to see where they stand with this effort and if they plan to present it in the Senate LHHS appropriations bill.  

Senator Scott’s office says he supports efforts to increase childhood cancer research and is reviewing this specific language.

Senator Rubio is a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. He’s supported past efforts to both fund and research pediatric cancers. His office said he'll continue to be a strong advocate for federal funding of pediatric cancer research.

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