"Last year, my first as a doctor in pediatric oncology, I watched four of my brilliant, beautiful, spirited patients die of childhood cancer," said Thienprayoon, a second-year pediatric oncology fellow at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Texas. "Although in 2012 we are able to cure many children with cancer, statistics do not provide comfort to the children who lose their battle with cancer or to the families they leave behind.
"Why can't we cure everyone? The answer is, simply, that more research is required. If we are able to cure pediatric cancer, we will save as many productive life-years as if we had cured breast cancer. Yet pediatric cancer research receives only about 30 percent of the funding provided to breast cancer research annually. The St. Baldrick's Foundation is the largest volunteer-driven fundraiser for pediatric cancer research, and today funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization other than the U.S. government."
Thienprayoon currently is trying to raise $5,000 prior to an event in Dallas on March 31, where she will shave her head in solidarity with her patients and in memory of those who died from cancer.
"The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a unique organization in so many ways," she said. "They provide funding only to pediatric cancer research, and they support grants at the national level with multiple hospitals involved, the local level with one hospital involved, and even smaller projects led by fellows like me. I was lucky to be chosen as a 'St. Baldrick's Fellow' in 2011, and I received a grant to support my own research project for the next two years.
"As I wrote my 'thank you' to the St. Baldrick's donors and participants, I realized how deeply touched I am by those who give their time and energy in this fight against kids cancer. I step onto our floor and I see our patients who smile and play so bravely while they fight for their lives and it gives my life great perspective. Would I shave my head to cure them of their cancer? Of course."
Thienprayoon, who was the valedictorian of Cartersville High School in 1999, also was a President's Scholar at Georgia Tech and a graduate from the Medical College of Georgia in 2007. She came to Texas for residency in pediatrics, and stayed there for her fellowship in pediatric oncology.
To contribute to Thienprayoon's fundraising efforts, visit www.stbaldricks. org/participants/mypage/500486/2012.