FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – At a ceremony to create awareness for childhood cancer, Gov. Matt Bevin said his family was touched by the disease when his sister lost a teenaged son.
The governor signed a proclamation on Wednesday recognizing September as Child Cancer Awareness Month in Kentucky. He was accompanied at the Capitol by childhood cancer survivors and their families, and physicians involved in childhood cancer research.
“Why would we not do everything in our power to try to make a transformative change for the next generation?” Bevin asked.
The General Assembly approved a state budget earlier this year that included $5 million for childhood cancer research.
Bevin said he realized that amount won’t find a solution, “but what a little bit of research money can do is so much better, potentially, than it’s ever been.
“This is the kind of thing that I hope is the first of what will be many contributions by Kentucky, and hopefully will help a lot of folks.”
State Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, spearheaded the effort to ensure the research money was included in the budget.
“This is notable not just for Kentucky, but for the entire United States,” said Wise. “For us to say we’re going to focus on childhood cancer research. We’re going to be a beacon for other states to look at and follow.”
Wise became interested in the issue when his son Carter was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at six months old.
“It was my passion when I got into the legislature to do all I can for families that have been affected by this horrible disease. It began with legislation that created the Pediatric Cancer Trust Fund, and from there working with the budget process to earmark funding for that fund,” Wise said.
At one point the $5 million was taken out of the budget but later restored.
Wise said, “I’m very blessed that I have colleagues that were very supportive of this. It was both Democrats and Republicans because cancer affects everybody. It’s not a partisan issue at all.”
Wise says Carter is now eleven years old, “and is doing fantastic. We went through 13 rounds of chemotherapy and about six surgeries. But if I brought him in here with a bunch of kids and said, ‘you pick out the one that is my child who had cancer, you wouldn’t be able to do so.”
The money is being used for five cancer research projects, in a collaboration between the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville researchers.