Recognizing Childhood Cancer Month and the New STAR Project

Posted on by DCPC

By Sandy Jones and Kimiko Sanders
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

As the summer comes to an end and school children and young adults begin a new school year, we want to take the time to recognize Childhood Cancer Month in September.

Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease among children from birth to age 14. About 15,000 children younger than age 20 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States.

The Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act (STAR Act) gives opportunities for childhood cancer research, improves efforts to track childhood cancer cases, and enhances survivors’ quality of life. This act funded CDC’s STAR Project, which allows clinics to report cancers diagnosed in children, adolescents, and young adults faster.

A Personal Connection to the Work

Noah Thames
Noah Thames

Meet Sandy Jones, a public health advisor for the STAR Project. Sandy’s son, Noah Thames, was an avid hunter and fisherman since he was 3 years old. He wrestled from 6th grade through 11th grade. Noah was just 17 years old, in his senior year of high school, when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer. He completed 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, but the tumor was still growing.

Noah’s neuro-oncologist and Sandy began a search for other treatments. They found a pediatric clinical trial drug that stabilized the tumor growth for about 18 months. Noah learned how to live life in a wheelchair and without the ability to use his left hand and arm while he was going through treatment. This didn’t stop him from participating in fun activities such as senior prom, high school graduation, and time hanging with his friends. Noah continued to hunt and fish and met some wonderful people in several organizations that conduct hunting and fishing adventures for children and young adults with a terminal illness. In early February 2020, Noah’s health began to decline as the cancer took over his brain.

Noah spent his last couple of months in a hospital bed in his bedroom. He was still able to enjoy watching the birds outside of his window until the last weeks of life when he could only communicate by a hand squeeze. Sadly, sweet, loving Noah passed away peacefully about 29 months after his cancer diagnosis, surrounded by family. Noah told everyone, “Don’t take life for granted because everything you have or hoped for could be gone in a split second. Live life to the fullest with every breath.”

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Page last reviewed: Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Page last updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2024