James Ragan's fight against cancer began in 2006, when doctors removed a tumor from the femur of left leg. This August — six years and countless treatments later — the 19-year-old Rice University student will be starting a clinical trial he calls his "last hope."
Knowing very well that their friend has no intention of throwing in the towel, Ragan's supporters are pushing Warner Brothers to get the cancer patient on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to shed light on pediatric cancer, a severely underfunded corner of oncology. Ragan's cousin Mikhal Gongora Abou-Sayed has launched a Facebook page to help the effort.
Ragan describes the pediatric bone cancer that has plagued him since he was 13 as an "orphan cancer," a rare type often forgotten by the medical in dustry.
"Doctors have told him to 'go live his life' because there are no further treatments for him," Abou-Sayed writes on Facebook. "With that news he has once again not gone into a shell to feel sorry for himself, but instead has continued in his pursuit to raise funds and push for grants for pediatric cancer research.
"I don't know how he does it. But I know why he does it. He says poignantly, 'I want cancer to stop with me!' "
In a recent video for the state-funded Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), Ragan describes the pediatric bone cancer (osteosarcoma) that has plagued him since he was 13 as an "orphan cancer," a rare type often forgotten by the medical industry. As a young adult, his pediatric disease has traveled from the legs to his liver and heart.
"There are less than 1,000 cases a year, so that means it's not a very profitable market for pharmaceutical companies to put research dollar into," he says.
"It's important for places like CPRIT to spend on things like pediatric bone cancer, pediatric brain cancer and other cancers that don't get a lot of the attention . . . They're called orphan cancers for a reason, you know?"
A well-liked student of philosophy and business, Ragan will continue to work with Triumph Over Kid Cancer, a foundation he created in 2007 with his sister Mecklin Ragan. Meanwhile, friends and family are urging people to help Ragan's cause get to national television by nominating him on Ellen's website.