We set up Christopher’s Smile in October 2008 having lost our son, Christopher in June the same year to an aggressive brain tumour following 21 months of battle with the disease. He was 9 days away from his 6th birthday.
We wanted to find something positive in our tragedy and thought long and hard about the direction we should take. We feel strongly that the current cycle with childhood cancer needs to be broken.
The survival rates for many children have not improved in decades and often those who survive their disease are left with a legacy of side effects from the treatments with which they have to live and deal with for the rest of their lives.
“Our vision is for every child diagnosed with childhood cancer to not
only survive, but to reach adulthood enjoying a good quality of life.”
Our charity supports UK research centres such as the Institute of Cancer Research. Christopher’s Smile raises money to fund development of new drugs to treat medulloblastoma (which took Christopher’s life) and other childhood cancers without devastating side effects. These drugs will provide an effective cure for all and save the lives of the 25% of children who currently do not survive their disease.
Our belief is that every penny of a donation should be used for the cause for which it was given. We ensure that donors are kept fully informed of how their donations have been spent and the benefits delivered.
We know first hand the efficacy of current treatments and their associated side effects. We want to see the introduction of new targeted drugs which are being developed to counteract the genetic abnormalities that drive childhood cancer but do not possess the dreadful side effects of current treatments.
The first examples of these new generation drugs are available and need extensive testing before they can be trialled in children. By directly funding academic researchers, Christopher’s Smile will expedite the testing and development of these new drugs enabling children in the future to have access to more effective and safer treatments.
We work in partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton. Already we have funded a researcher for two years to carry out pre-clinical testing of new drugs and this work has borne fruit. New drugs will enter clinical trials this year to treat Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer of the developing nervous system. As Trustees we have a duty to ensure that donations are spent in the best way and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Thankfully children’s cancers are less common than cancer in adults. In the UK there is no national charity to raise funds specifically for childhood cancer research. Children’s cancers are biologically different to adult cancers and require specific research.
Although millions of pounds are spent in the UK each year on cancer research only a tiny percentage of this amount is spent on children’s cancers. All treatments in front-line use for childhood cancers were developed for adult cancers and the chemotherapy drugs used are not only nonspecific but the 10 most common drugs used to treat children have an average age of 45 years! Research resources of both pharmaceutical companies and academic centres is concentrated on the more numerous adult cancers, leaving childhood cancer research to continue at a slower pace due to the availability of funding.
Our next target is to fund a senior researcher to test new drugs in combinations. There is a realisation that no one drug will bring about a miracle cure. Targeted drugs will be tested in combinations with the aim of suppressing cancerous cells on a number of fronts simultaneously in order to stop their multiplication and to achieve cell death. Our aim is to raise £200,000 to fund this work. We have a shortfall of £60,000 and this is our immediate target to enable this project to begin.
We are “ordinary people” whose inspiration is and always will be our little boy who, along with many other precious children have lost their courageous battles. We will continue in our fight for finding effective cures for other families whose children are being diagnosed with cancer. We value any help you might be able to give to help us with our quest.
Karen & Kevin Capel