Taking to the court for a cause

Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm

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West Lyon and Central Lyon basketball take on pediatric cancer

West Lyon and Central Lyon will be teaming up the week of Jan. 14 in an effort to raise awareness and generate funds for pediatric cancer.

Bryan and Jana Paulson of Larchwood are the force behind the event. The couple’s son Koby was born with a type of childhood cancer, so they are all too familiar with the stress and emotions that accompany it.

Koby was born Dec. 10, 2010. Soon after, he began having health issues. Within a month, and after several tests, Koby was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which is a type of cancer in infants. He immediately underwent surgery, and endured several more tests. The surgery was successful, and today he is doing well.

The Paulsons are not alone in their battle with childhood cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) approximately 10,500 children in the United States are diagnosed with some form of cancer every year. And often childhood cancers differ significantly from the adult forms in how they act in the body and how they are treated.

Currently, treatments for childhood cancer often use higher doses of chemotherapy and radiation over a shorter period of time, according to the NCI. This is because children can receive more intense treatment than adults before serious side effects occur.

The funds generated by events like this go to help create awareness, as well as research causes, cures and safer, less harsh treatments for children that suffer from the disease.

Bryan explained that childhood cancer is significantly underfunded despite its vast and devastating reach throughout the U.S. He said that it lacks the funding and awareness that other forms of cancer receive such as breast cancer, which generates over 4.5 times what pediatric cancer does annually. And while he isn’t saying any cancer is less significant than another, he did say, “There needs to be awareness of all cancers.”

A study done by the NCI determined that between 1975 and 1995 there was nearly a 40 percent decline in the mortality rate among children diagnosed with cancer. Currently, the overall five-year survival rate is nearly 80 percent, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO).

However, even with these positive statistics, children often have lingering side effects as a result of the harsh treatment on their developing organs. The ACCO states that two-thirds of survivors deal with the long-term late effects from toxic treatments, one-third of which are moderate to severe.

“Talking about childhood cancer is not a fun thing for people. It’s kind of taboo, so people kind of brush it aside,” Bryan said, adding, “They see a sick kid and they don’t want to go up and talk to them or the parents because they don’t know what to say, because they feel awkward.”

Because of this the Paulsons recognized the need for ongoing research and, in an effort to create awareness, they decided to organize the fundraiser. Since Bryan is the head coach of the West Lyon girls’ basketball team he wanted to incorporate the event into the season.

This will be the first year the Paulsons, with the help of Central Lyon elementary school principal Dan Kruse, are organizing the fundraiser. They plan to make it an annual event, and hope before long that all the schools from the Siouxland Conference will get involved for at least one day.

The events at West Lyon and Central Lyon will take place during the week of Jan. 14, and conclude during the boys’ basketball game at West Lyon on Friday, Jan. 18. That evening, West Lyon fans are encouraged to wear blue and Central Lyon fans gold. Additionally, there will be a silent auction and raffle with prizes being announced during the halftime and second half of the boys’ game.

Bryan and Jana can be contacted at 605-941-5237 and 605-921-7761 regarding any silent auction or monetary donations. Checks may be made out to Pediatric Cancer Night c/o WL Girls Basketball. All the proceeds from the event will go to the Sanford Children’s Telethon and American Childhood Cancer Organization.