A Former NFL Quarterback’s New Goal: Ending Pediatric Cancer
Advocacy In an exclusive interview, Jesse Palmer shares what inspired him to become an advocate for the thousands of children in America facing a cancer diagnosis.
As the leading cause of death by disease for children, each day an average of 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst and spokesman for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Jesse Palmer, makes this statistic more relatable: “For example, each NFL team has a roster of 53 players, so 43 children per day is practically an NFL team, per day.”
When asked what inspired him to speak up on research and education relating to pediatric cancer, Palmer looks at the strength of the children and families affected. “I’m continually humbled by the kids’ courage to overcome and their strength to keep pushing.” While becoming more aware of the challenges often faced, Palmer explains that he has become both inspired and committed to raising awareness of the lack of funding and effective treatment options available to patients and their families.
Before his work with the NPCF, although Palmer wasn’t aware of the statistics related to the disease, it’s been his relationships with patients and families that have continued to motivate his involvement. “It has personally been very humbling and extremely impactful.”
“These children all have different and unique dreams, however there is one that binds them together. They all dream to be cancer-free.”
While, according to the American Cancer Society, mortality rates for childhood cancer have declined by 66 percent over the last four decades, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve those numbers. For instance, since 1980, less than ten drugs have been developed for use in children with cancer. The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer, while their focus is to fund research to fast track less toxic, more targeted treatments by partnering with 23 leading hospitals nationwide.
Jesse’s involvement with NPCF deepened when he funded a new financial assistance program, called the Safety Net Program, which is currently in its first year. “Cancer is a battle that no one fights alone,” explains Palmer, “and to help support patients and their families in this fight, and the financial burden of cancer, goes beyond the treatments themselves.” Currently, the average cost of a stay in a hospital for a child with cancer is 40,000 dollars per stay. The program is designed to help minimize additional costs while providing some financial relief for patients and their families.
Palmer plans to continue to raise awareness on the effects of the disease, and more importantly, how everyone can become involved and help. “It’s important to note, help does not only come financially through donations, but also through awareness and support of the cause”, explains Palmer. To increase his reach, Palmer utilizes his social media platforms to share upcoming events and fundraising efforts with one goal in mind: to put an end to pediatric cancer.
“These children all have different and unique dreams, however there is one that binds them together,” says Palmer, “They all dream to be cancer-free.”