HARRISBURG – A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives joined with advocates, medical experts and families affected by pediatric cancer at the state Capitol on Monday to highlight efforts to combat childhood cancers, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13).
“A cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest and most heart-wrenching things a family can ever experience, and the entire situation is magnified when the patient is a child,” Martin said.
“We have come a long way over the past decade in improving diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer, but we need to do more for the families who are fighting this battle today, tomorrow and years into the future.”
Martin authored a new law last year that allows Pennsylvanians to voluntarily donate $5 to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund when electronically renewing a driver’s license, photo identification card or vehicle registration.
During the press conference, Martin also highlighted a resolution he is sponsoring that designates Feb. 15 as International Childhood Cancer Day, as well as his legislation that would create a tax credit for donations made to pediatric cancer research centers (Senate Bill 74).
The bill would help generate up to $100 million to fight pediatric cancer over the next 10 years.
Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D-127) is introducing similar measures in the House of Representatives.
Martin also cited the need to help children who miss an extended period of time from school due to cancer or some other illness or injury.
He is sponsoring a bill (Senate Bill 144) that would help Intermediate Units purchase telepresence equipment to allow homebound students to interact with their classes remotely.
Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19) and Representatives Kerry Benninghoff (R-171) also spoke during the press conference about additional bills that could help families affected by pediatric cancer.
Two young people who are currently living with and fighting pediatric cancer – Noelle Weinhold and Travis Cook – also shared their stories of living with and fighting this disease during the press conference.
Other speakers included Melania Timpano and Jennifer Kratzer, whose children are each currently fighting cancer, as well as Cathy Kohler, whose son Ayden passed away after an eight-month battle with a rare childhood cancer in 2017.
Dr. Elizabeth Fox, attending physician and head of Developmental Therapeutics in the Oncology Division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also shared her perspective on the problem as a medical professional.
“I deeply appreciate the fact that lawmakers from different parts of the state and different political parties can unite behind the principle of helping families who are affected by this terrible disease,” Martin said.
“My thanks go out to the families, advocates and medical experts who are fighting childhood cancers every day, and we all want to share the message that you are not alone in this fight.”