July 16, 2008

Conquer Childhood Cancer Act Passes Senate

Legislation fulfills quest of Oregonian Jenessa "Boey" Byers

WASHINGTON, DC - Honoring his friend, Jenessa "Boey" Byers, who earlier this year succumbed to childhood cancer, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) requested unanimous consent this evening to pass the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The bill was originally introduced by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) in 2007. After Ms. Byers began her one-girl crusade to secure passage of the bill in Congress, Wyden signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation. She was only eight years old when she passed away from the disease on December 30, 2007. Having now passed both the House and Senate, the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act moves to the White House for the President's signature.

"Anyone who met Boey was touched by her courage and her incredible heart. She was a real force of nature who never let her fight to beat cancer get her down," said Wyden. "The best way we can honor Boey and the thousands of children like her who face this cruel disease is to pass this bill. Cancer shouldn't be allowed to rob kids of their futures."

The Conquer Childhood Cancer Act would authorize $150 million over a five-year period to expand support for biomedical research programs. These programs are part of the existing National Cancer Institute-designated multi-center national infrastructure for pediatric cancer research. The bill would establish a population-based national childhood cancer registry; enable researchers to more accurately study the incidence of childhood cancers and long-term effects of treatments; and provide funding for informational and educational services to families coping with a diagnosis of childhood cancer.

Boey Byers was a native of Corvallis, Oregon, who endured two bouts of a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. While undergoing treatment, she lobbied members of Congress to pass a "Conquer Childhood Cancer Act." Wyden visited Boey and her family at the Children's Cancer Center at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Boey's crusade attracted not only the attention of Congress, but also of the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The Corvallis community helped the show's crew demolish the Byers family home and rebuild it in seven days during the summer of 2007 to give Boey a sterile environment that helped keep her healthy.