PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — While many high schoolers are preoccupied with thoughts of sports or college, a student in Vancouver is focused on finding a cure for a rare form of cancer that took that life of a boy who went to her high school.
Erin Ryan is a sophomore at Skyview High School. She recently raised enough money to pay for a cancer research scientist to spend 2 years researching a cure for osteosarcoma.
In 2006, Trey Foote — who was also a Skyview student — lost his battle with the rare form of bone cancer. His family launched the Trey Foote Foundation and has been actively working to raise awareness and funds to find new treatments or even a cure.
But Trey’s mother, Lea Foote, said progress has been disappointingly slow.
“They’re still using the same protocol, they’re still giving the same cocktail that Trey had 13 years ago,” she said.
Part of the problem is that pediatric cancers are rare so treatment research is scarce.
Ryan heard about the family’s struggle to make headway on their goals and was inspired to help. She started by organizing raffles.
“That’s how I started was hosting events and talking about what I wanted to raise money for,” said Ryan. “Then I went to individual people and businesses and told them what I was doing and what the cause was.”
Ryan decided to raise money to pay for a research scientist at the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute to dedicate 2 years of their time to solely studying osteosarcoma.
Doing so would cost around $160,000. Ryan’s mission was met with so much support and enthusiasm that she ended up raising $212,000.
“She’s amazing. She’s really amazing,” said Lea Foote.
A few weeks ago, Ryan joined Trey’s parents and researchers from the CC-TDI lab in Beaverton to present a check with the funds Ryan raised.
Ryan said part of what drove her to meet her fundraising goal — and blow past it — was the fact that while she was working on raising the money, her dad was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
“Just having him diagnosed with a rare cancer showed me what it must be really like for these families,” said Ryan. “There’s not much treatment being done and not a known treatment and that gave me the push I needed to go out there and raise some money.”
For Ryan, the Foote family and all whose lives have been affected by pediatric cancers, breakthroughs in treatment options may not be far off. Researchers at the CC-TDI lab have recently pushed some drugs through to clinical trials — marking large strides forward in childhood cancer research.
The Trey Foote Foundation awards a scholarship to a Skyview High School student every year. Click here to learn more about the foundation.