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One Family's Loss Creates Hope for Children's Cancer Research

Read Time: 3 minutes

Video Transcript

Cindy Campbell: What's your name?

Ty Campbell: Ty.

Cindy Campbell: How do you spell Ty?

Ty Campbell: Umm, T Y.

Cindy Campbell: What's your favorite color?

Ty Campbell: Blue.

Cindy Campbell: And how old are you?

Ty Campbell: Two half.

Cindy Campbell: You know— you're almost three.

Cindy Campbell: I'm Cindy Campbell and this is my husband Lou. We founded the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation in memory of our son Ty. He's our oldest. He would be 14 years-old. Ty was just the sweetest, cutest little two-year-old. He was our whole world. The idea that there was a mass in this perfect little boy who could climb the slide at the playground and never showed a single neurological sign—we were floored and our whole world turned upside down.

Lou Campbell: I remember one day he, you know, he's just would say his arms didn't work and that was like a normal occurrence for him to wake up and experience something like that.

We started hearing about immunotherapies and we wanted that for Ty and Sam was at the forefront of that, and so we were able to able to get in on his Anti-CD47 trial.

Samuel Cheshier, MD, PhD: I'm a pediatric brain surgeon—so I'm a brain surgeon for babies. I also have an independent laboratory research group at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Cancer cells are able to grow in a big part by escaping your immune system. What CD47 does is it tells these very specialized cells of your immune system called macrophages to don't eat me.

So what the Anti-CD47 does—it blocks the CD47 on the cancer cell so that there is no don't eat me signal and now the cancer cells become eaten by the macrophages.

The vast majority of anti-cancer treatments are never tested in children or they're tested in children at far later stage of development after it's been developed for every other cancer. One of the things about Anti-CD47 is it doesn't just work with brain cancer, which is my specialty, it potentially works with any single cancer. So getting the trial done in children will allow for more trials of Anti-CD47 to be done in other children with other cancers.

Lou Campbell: We did get to meet with Sam about two years after funding his research. I couldn't wait to take it back to our donors and show them here's this amazing doctor and go over the research. But we've always wanted to be in clinical trials. We wanted to see the research going into children. We wanted to give families another option, so here we are now because the clinical trial is finally starting.

Dr. Cheshier: I could not do the work that I do without gifts from generous donors and generous foundations. I know the people at the foundation now. I know the family now, and I'll never give up because I know them. You know, I love them. I don't want to let them down so I'll just keep pushing forward and to make it happen for them.

Lou Campbell: We're here to help someone else's child. We're not here to help our son anymore. Our son is gone. There's nothing we can do about that, but it's so important for everyone to understand the place that we were in when he was diagnosed—it could happen to anyone.

Someday someone's going to come up with a cure for cancer and it may be Sam, it may be someone else. But if no one's out there funding it it's not going to happen.

Cindy Campbell: Our goal is in our lifetime. I mean, that's what we're looking at, in our lifetime. When our final resting day comes and we know that it's made a difference in his memory, we'll be okay with that.

Cancer touches all of us.