With just days to go before Canadians choose the next federal government, a family from London, Ont. is pushing to get one more issue noticed — childhood cancer research funding.
Kim Vander Schelde has been leading that push for 14 years, when her daughter Olivia Vander Schelde was born with a brain tumour.
“How, how is a baby born with cancer? It baffled me,” Kim recalled thinking when her daughter was born.
Olivia was treated with 50 rounds of chemotherapy, the same drug administered to adult cancer patients.
Now, the 14-year-old suffers from chronic pain.
The family believes the pain is a late-term effect of the chemotherapy dosage. The after effects are the reason why the family has been pushing for more research dollars for cancer treatment developed for children.
“If you have children’s Aspirin and Gravol and you put the time and research into all that, how come you can’t put the research into a drug that affects a child?” Olivia said.
The federal government earmarks money specifically for cancer research. Last year $5.1 million was invested in childhood cancer research. That number is just over three per cent of the federal government’s overall cancer research commitment.
Kim took her cause online, where more than 62,000 people signed a petition for more money to be dedicated to childhood cancer treatment research. She said she is grateful for the support but wonders why other have to be convinced.
“Why are we trying to convince anyone that this is important? Who in Canada is going to put up their hand and say no this doesn’t matter?” Kim said.
The campaign for more funding got the attention of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Kim got to meet both leaders with Trudeau promising more funding and Scheer promising to review current funding levels.
Olivia said if childhood cancer funding does not increase after this election, she’ll focus on four years from now when she turns 18 and will be qualified to vote.
“They’re going to have to listen,” Olivia said.