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Amazon donates $40,000 to childhood cancer research

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF) received a $40,000 boost Sept. 25, to support its goal of researching – and helping eradicate – pediatric cancers.

The donation, which came from Amazon, was announced at the online shopping and commerce giant’s 600,000-square-foot fulfillment centre in East Balzac.

“We are incredibly grateful for this donation. It’s a big one for us, and it’s going to go in support of our childhood cancer research program,” said Melanie Sortland, ACFH manager of Community Initiatives and Events.

According to Sortland, the donation will support a team of scientists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute.

“Those people are working on advancing their understanding of childhood cancers, and transferring that knowledge into finding new and better ways to treat it, so there is less collateral damage for the kids,” she said.

Roughly a dozen local children and their families, all of whom have been impacted by cancer, were on-hand for the announcement. The children were invited as a part of Camp Amazon – a global campaign initiated by the corporation to increase awareness of pediatric cancers.

“Childhood cancer is a major issue – it is estimated that, globally, 100,000 children die from childhood cancer each year, and this year, 300,000 children may be diagnosed with childhood cancer,” said Jas Khangura, general manager for Amazon’s facility in East Balzac. “It is important to raise awareness of childhood cancer and also to bring to light to the incredible work being done by organizations in this area.”

Accepting the donation on behalf of ACHF, Sortland spoke about the ongoing progress in the field of pediatric cancer research. Thanks to prior and ongoing developments, she said, the survival rate for children who are diagnosed with cancer is now roughly 80 per cent.

But although much progress has been made, she said, there is still more work that needs to be done.

“We can and must do better, not only for the 20 per cent remaining, but also for the survivors, because they’re facing very serious side effects from their treatment,” she said.

One surgery that used to result in serious side effects, according to Sortland, is bone and marrow transplants. In the past, she said, the procedure was a difficult one and often meant kids would be staying in hospital for weeks or months.

“Now, thanks to research done in the past, they have less-intensive transplants that are just as successful,” she said. “Kids can be out of hospitals in days rather than months, and the side effects are nowhere near as bad as they used to be.”

The donation was made at an appropriate time, Sortland added, given September is recognized globally by childhood cancer organizations as Children’s Cancer Awareness Month.

“It’s great to have a time like that, where you can shine a spotlight on what’s being done in the city, because there is great work being done by the scientists and it’s nice to be able to celebrate that,” she said. “Also, to remind people that we can and should always do better – we owe it to the kids.”

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