March 21, 2019 4:15 pm
Updated: March 21, 2019 4:22 pm

London family files human rights claim alleging discrimination against children in cancer research funding

Linda Aylesworth on a new test to identify childhood cancers, and the local foundation with very personal reasons for funding the study.


A London family whose daughter has suffered long-term side effects from cancer treatments when she was a baby is hoping to save others from the same fate.

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Kim Vander Schelde alleges the Canadian Institutes of Health Research discriminates against children when it comes to research funding for cancer treatments. The family has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

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Vander Schelde says her daughter Olivia was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was 18 months old and underwent surgery followed by 50 weeks of chemotherapy.

“At that point we thought the biggest hurdle is going to be saving her life, not realizing that the chemotherapy drugs that she was being given had been developed over 70 years before and for adults, not for children,” Vander Schelde explained on The Craig Needles Show.

“Here we are now, she’s 14 and we’re thankful for that, but her quality of life sucks, for lack of a better word.”

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Vander Schelde wants the commission to rule that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research should ensure more funds go to childhood cancer research.

“Out of all the funds that the Canadian government gives to cancer research, only 5 per cent goes to childhood cancer. So, five cents on every dollar goes to children,” she explained.

“In the last 10 years, I think there’s been over 70 cancer drugs created for adults and in the last 70 years, three for children.”

Vander Schelde says doctors are doing the best they can with the tools they have and she’s hoping public awareness will help bring change.

“People don’t know and once you know, how can you ignore it?”

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Vander Schelde says she wants to make sure other families have more care options so their children have fewer lasting side effects from their treatments.

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