Why (Almost) No One is Funding Pediatric Cancer Research and How ‘Humans of New York’ Changed That in Just 3 Weeks

Why (Almost) No One is Funding Pediatric Cancer Research and How ‘Humans of New York’ Changed That in Just 3 Weeks

It’s estimated that between 15-16, 000 kids between the ages of 0 and 19 years are diagnosed with pediatric cancer each year in the U.S. Almost 2000 of these individuals will die from their disease.

And while pediatric cancer is uncommon, according to the National Cancer Institute it is still the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children and adolescents in the country.

Yet, despite these numbers, studies to find cures for the disease currently receive only about 4 per cent of federal research funds.


Nina Pickett, Department of Pediatrics administrator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City said the reason is simple: pediatric cancer doesn’t make pharmaceutical companies enough money.



Compared with other cancers, not enough people need the drugs that could treat pediatric malignancies, and so no one really cares to develop them.

Perhaps it was with this brutal truth in mind that Brandon Stanton, professional photographer, blogger and creator of Humans of New York began his amazing humanitarian journey. He decided to help raise funds to help these kids out.

Today.com states that Stanton, who is now known for his humanitarian work, approached the Memorial Sloan Kettering center with the idea to use his blogging platform to start a crowdsourcing campaign.

Stanton worked closely with Pickett to bring the campaign to life and in just three short weeks it raised a staggering $3.8 million for pediatric cancer research from over 103,200 people.



According to Pickett in an interview with today.com, “he (Stanton) just had in his heart that there was so much injustice around the idea that a child would get cancer and he decided to do a series on it.”

Stanton first became famous for his blog Humans of New York which he started in 2010, when he began photographing New Yorkers and plotting them on a map of the city. His initial goal was to gather 10,000 portraits of New Yorkers. The project evolved as Stanton started talking with his subjects and adding quotes and stories beside his photos.

Humans of New York now has over 17 million likes on its Facebook page and its book counterpart by the same name remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 28 weeks.

Remarkably, it reached the number 1 position on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers of 2013 in November of 2013.



Pickett said to Today.com that besides the great amount of money that Stanton’s project raised for children’s cancer research, the biggest gain is in the amount of awareness the campaign brought to the disease and those who suffer through it.

“We know how isolating this disease is,” said Pickett to today.com. “We know how people back away. We know how families really need to uproot and get closer to treatment centers and leave their communities, and we know the fear they live with,” she added.

“Brandon gave voice to that. Their story was every child’s story. The fear and the anguish that the parents portrayed is any parent’s fear and anguish.”

Check out Humans of New York to read about the journey, and individual stories like Sebastian’s.

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