September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Now you're aware.
The more people that are aware of a problem, the more potential for fund raising, and the more funds there are available for research, the better the chances that successful treatments are developed.
Of course, every month, I am hyper-aware of childhood cancer. Here's one choice I have made year-round that I believe will make a small but real difference in the big-picture scope of childhood cancer.
I choose to have a portion of the money I spend at Amazon.com donated to the Ben Towne Foundation.
I changed the bookmarks in my browser that link to www.amazon.com to link instead to smile.amazon.com. It's a simple change, but this change means that a small percentage of the money I spend on things I would buy anyway go towards pediatric cancer research. (We have an Amazon Prime account, so we use it to buy every-day things all of the time with free 2-day shipping.)
You can point Amazon Smile at any one of thousands of charitable organizations. I chose Ben Towne Foundation because I believe in their vision.
What they do is to extract T-cells from a patient, and reprogram them to recognize cancer cells and kill them [Update: I have since learned that they target all B cells, not just cancerous ones]. (They do this using neutered HIV virus, since it can infect T-cells.) The patient's own modified T-cells are multiplied in the lab, and then re-introduced into the body. Once back in the body, they do what T-cells do, except that now they have the special ability to seek out and destroy cancer.
This sounds so futuristic, and yet they are doing it in clinical trials with real patients right now. And they are succeeding! These patients are the kind with multiple relapses; the otherwise hopeless cases: now suddenly cured (hopefully in perpetuity, since the reprogrammed cells will stay with them). The future is now, or at least, it is nearer than we thought.
Would you like to do the same? It's easy. Just go to smile.amazon.com. Once you sign in to your account, you can search for and pick your charity. Remember to change your bookmarks (or type it in manually).
That's it. You're done. The future will arrive ever-so-slightly sooner.
I'll take a cure for cancer over flying cars any day.