Article: Solving Kids Cancer charity

Article: Solving Kids Cancer

IMG_0561September 27th, 2017:  Solving Kids Cancer is a charity funded in 2007 by John London and Scott Kennedy, which operates internationally to find solutions and cures for childhood cancer. Both London and Kennedy have had a personal experience with childhood cancer, having each had a child affected by cancer. In their short lives both Penelope London and Hazen Kennedy with their bravery and love for life, brought their fathers to decide to invest their whole life in making sure no other child has to go through cancer by founding Solving Kids Cancer.

The charity is based on the believe that scientific research aimed at finding treatment for childhood cancer is underfunded and immediate help is needed in areas with significant gap of knowledge. The charity operations and efforts are directly driven by the needs of the patients and their families. Solving Kids Cancer  believes that a different approach more rooted in the needs of children with cancer should be taken to find treatments. In this sense the charity operates in a way that is distinct from classical scientific research.

Unfortunately, it is well known that funds dedicated specifically to find treatments for childhood cancer are very limited and children affected by the disease have far too often had to turn to treatments designed and approved for adults. Solving Kids Cancer are continuously scouting through scientific literature, participating in conferences and workshops, and connecting with scientists all over the world that are involved in research projects that have the potential to find new treatments.

Through rigorous evaluation of the various research projects the charity identifies the ones that are meritorious of funding. Typically preclinical and clinical trials are funded by Solving Kids Cancer. The charity goes one step further ensuring that children become enrolled in clinical trials and that trials with the minimum number of enrolled children are approved. In addition, Solving Kids Cancer run fundraisers to support treatment for individual children.


Using this approach Solving Kids Cancer has funded cutting edge research over the years being among the first to promote the use of immune therapy and vaccines to treat certain types of cancers including neuroblastoma. In the 10 years the charity has been running, it has had already a tremendous impact in the field of childhood cancer. Among its accomplishments:

  • It has repurposed an anti-parasitic drug (nifurtimox) for the treatment of neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma.
  • It has introduced the use of the oncolytic vaccinnia virus to treat solid tumors in children. This type of virus is now being considered in combination therapy with next-generation immunotherapies for the treatment of tumors in adults as well.
  • It has established the use of Natural Killer Cells donated by a parent and screened for anti tumor properties as a novel immunotherapic approach.
  • It has initiated the first study to “discover and validate” cancer stem cells as a chemotherapy resistant type of tumor cell  that is often responsible for relapse and progression of the disease.
  • It has introduced the use of reengineered Herpes Simplex Virus as a new category of immunotherapy to treat high risk pediatric solid tumors.  This strategy is now being used in combination with radiation and immune therapy to treat other types of tumors.
  • It has introduced an improved T-cell CAR immunotherapy for neuroblastoma.

Solving Kids Cancer is also involved in advocacy actions. Recently the U.K. government had decided to deny access to dinituxebam, an FDA/EMA approved antibody treatment for neuroblastoma. The charity challenged the decision of the government  which has now gone back to the drawing board on this decision. The families are hopeful that dinituxebam will remain available in the U.K. so that they won’t be forced to travel to another country like the USA to gain access to this treatment for their children.


Chloe Balloqui with Louis Tomlinson

We have previously published about Chloe Balloqui, a 5 years old girl, who has benefited from support from Solving Kids Cancer in her battle against neuroblastoma (see our articles published 6/6/2016, 6/26/2016 and 7/4/2016). After beating cancer, Chloe has received the vaccine in the USA and has been cancer free for almost 1 and a half years!


This year Solving Kids Cancer has marked the month of September, which is dedicated to childhood cancer awareness, with the “lace up for kids” campaign.

IMG_0562For each donation from August 15 till the end of September the charity is gifting gold shoe laces to raise awareness about childhood cancer. To make a contribution to the charity and to learn more about how you can help, visit their donation page.

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Article: Rays of Sunshine Charity

Article: Rays of Sunshine Charity

UnknownSeptember 23rd, 2017: Rays of Sunshine is a UK registered charity that grants wishes to seriously ill children age 3-18. The charity work is based on the believe that seriously ill children should not be robbed of moments of happiness and of hope. The charity indeed believes that granting wishes to sick children gives them happy moments, cherished memories to recall, and most importantly hope. Children that get their wishes granted also feel extra special and valued which helps build confidence, which in turn helps them as they face the challenges of their illnesses.

The types of wishes the charity grants are the most diverse and are as unique as the children. They range from wanting to “be a princess or a fireman for a day, go to Disneyland, visit Santa, own an iPad or meet their favorite pop star”. In addition to granting wishes to individual children Rays of Sunshine grants wishes to entire hospital wards and to to large groups of children by taking them to day trips to Legoland for example or to Rays of Sunshine concert. Shared from Rays of Sunshine website: “I can’t put into words what today has meant to us. No matter what the future holds for Lauren we will always have the memories of seeing Lauren run towards the mermaid and the look on her wee face. Thank you all so much for making Lauren’s wish come true.” Laura, mum of Lauren who had her wish granted to meet a real-life mermaid.

In order to be eligible for the granting of a wish, children submit an application which is reviewed by a Rays of Sunshine committee within in 4 weeks. The charity then communicates to the children families the wishes that will be granted at that time.

Rays of Sunshine does not receive financial support from the government but rather relies upon donations made by corporations and individuals. For a list of corporations currently supporting Rays of Sunshine, visit this page. The charity is also supported in its work by several celebrities who donate their time to grant wishes to children who want to meet them. One Direction has been a strong supporter of Rays of Sunshine through the years. More recently Niall Horan, as a solo artist, has also met sick children through Rays of Sunshine (our article here). In one particular occasion in 2014 during their Where We Are tour, One Direction met 53 children through Rays of Sunshine at the Wembley Stadium (our article here). Read here also about One Direction meeting Niamh Power through Rays of Sunshine.

There are several ways that you can support Rays of Sunshine. You can make an individual donation or make a gift for the charity in your will. You can also participate to the charity fundraising events, organize a fundraiser, or volunteer for them. Visit their “support us” page to learn more.

Pictures are credited to Rays of Sunshine website.


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Article: Trekstock Cancer Support

Article: Trekstock Cancer Support 

September 18, 2017:  Trekstock is a youth cancer charity designed to help support people in their 20’s and 30’s who are living with the effects of cancer. There are over 140,000 young adults in the UK facing cancer and Trekstock has made it their mission to support them. The charity does this with carefully planned support that, regardless of where they are in their own cancer journey, the message is clear that they are not alone facing this. Trekstock also provides support beyond the treatment stages during remission, by offering relevant physical, emotional, and practical help in gaining their health back.

Onever important feature of Trekstock is their Cancer Information Hub. Trekstock is a certified member of the Information Standard. This is a quality assurance programme monitored by NHS England and insures that Trekstock (and other charity information hubs) are operating at the most current and accurate level of information, which is critical. Hosting information hubs that are certified, such as the one Trekstock generates, ensures that their cancer information is supported by the best evidence available and follows strict quality-control guidelines reviewed regularly. (Pic and quote below credited to Trekstock)image

Trekstock also hosts a “Trekstock Talks” webpage where young adults can ask leading doctors, research teams, and experts questions pertaining to any aspect of life with cancer, ranging from medications, dosage, and side-effects to insecurities, and misconceptions about living their daily life with cancer. This allows the opportunity for some small group or one-on-one chats with a professional.

Trekstock also provides various information videos from young adults that help discuss important topics of interest that young adults facing cancer may need. For example, the video below features Trekstock Ambassadors Harry Styles and Liam Payne discussing Healthy Living as they meet with Dr. Ruth from Trekstock. (video shared from

Liam, Harry, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan have all helped Trekstock in many ways, by providing support and by generating funding for Trekstock over the years as bandmates in One Direction.

You can read more of their involvement and the  help they have provided in our past articles here and here

To get involved and support Trekstock  by becoming a volunteer or help with fundraising start with their “Get Involved” page found here.

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Article: Anne Twist, Gemma Styles, and friends give to @ParkinsonsUK


Article: Anne Twist, Gemma Styles and friends give to @ParkinsonsUK 

imageSeptember 12, 2017:  On September 10th, Anne Twist and Gemma Styles, (mum and sister to Harry Styles), along with Anne’s stepson Mike Twist and their friends took a white water rafting trip down the River Tay for Parkinson’s UK . Anne and her friends, @SandraMeighan and Sandra Collins, began this challenge setting for themselves a personal challenge months ago. They began by raising awareness on their social media and through their JustGiving for ParkinsonsUK accounts collecting donations in early May. This challenge would provide donations towards the much needed research towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s . As a result of Anne and her friends combined efforts, along with her daughter, Gemma and her boyfriend Michal Mlynowski’s fundraising, their combined effort helped to raise over £3,000 This amounts to more than 300% of their goal!

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Article: Anne Twist, Gemma Styles, and friends give to @ParkinsonsUK

Article: Anne Twist, Gemma Styles and friends give to @ParkinsonsUK 


September 12, 2017:  On September 10th, Anne Twist and Gemma Styles, (mum and sister to Harry Styles), along with Anne’s stepson Mike Twist and their friends took a white water rafting trip down the River Tay for Parkinson’s UK . Anne and her friends, @SandraMeighan and Sandra Collins, began this challenge setting for themselves a personal challenge months ago. They began by raising awareness on their social media and through their JustGiving for ParkinsonsUK accounts collecting donations in early May. This challenge would provide donations towards the much needed research towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s . As a result of Anne and her friends combined efforts, along with her daughter, Gemma and her boyfriend Michal Mlynowski’s fundraising, their combined effort helped to raise over £3,000 This amounts to more than 300% of their goal!

imageWhite water rafting was not an easy choice for Anne. She states on her Just Giving donation page that although she can swim well enough the thought of rafting in very rough waters was quite scary and definitely a stretch out of her comfort zone. Anne (pictured at left in the blue jacket with her team), spoke to the soon after their rafting event and explained how she felt getting into the raft: (credit to )

“I don’t like underwater, water in my eyes – all that stuff. I couldn’t get much further outside my comfort zone. So yes, I was pretty terrified.” She explains further, “The challenge was really scary but satisfying. As I stepped into the raft I thought of my dad and how the funds that we’re raising will help to find better treatments for Parkinson’s and perhaps, one day, a cure. I’m really glad that I did it.”


Anne’s family has been personally effected by this disease, as her father, Brian Selley, (Gemma and Harry Styles’ grandfather), was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 and has lived with its effects for years. After her father’s diagnosis, Anne learned that sadly, there has been very little advancement in the treatments and medications used to help PD patients in decades, much less any real progress towards discovering a cure.


Finding a charity like Parkinson’s UK to support that provides for the needs of those living with Parkinson’s while focusing on finding a cure through research was important and Anne, Harry, and Gemma and they have all been active supporters of Parkinson’s UK for some time. (See our articles for additional information about their charitable involvement).

Parkinson’s UK brings needed awareness about the disease and its early detection, sustains the funding for critical research and offers support, to ease the burdens of those suffering. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder for which (as of yet) there is no cure. Although it is not fatal, the progressive neurological condition is a slow-developed, debilitating disease affecting a person’s ability to produce dopamine.

With less and less dopamine, a person begins to lose their ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions; becoming increasingly dependent on others for care in their basic needs. As we mentioned in our July 2016 article complications from the disease are quite serious as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rated complications from PD as the 14th top cause of death.


The recent good news from Parkinson’s UK  research is very encouraging and why support, like Anne and Gemma’s,  for a cure is so critical.

With the knowledge that symptoms of Parkinson’s are caused by the gradual loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, researchers are putting their efforts into attempting to replacing those, with new dopamine-producing brain cells by using skin and blood cells from those affected by Parkinson’s and those without that condition to in an attempt to reverse some of the symptoms of the condition. To date, the results of this trial study shows that new brain cells could integrate into the primate brain; functioning  like normal dopamine-producing brain cells. This is encouraging news as they move forward with these results if the body does not reject the cells.

As stated on Parkinson’s UK website with their research development one of the key hurdles to transplant therapies is to overcome rejection by the immune system.

With this in mind, a second research team are using the same principles of matching for organ donation and applying it to the dopamine-producing brain cells to the primate immune system. The team is so far, seeing success in using this method to avoid the transplant rejection.

According to Parkinson’s UK research, with continued success in this method, the researchers will propose to create a bank of stem cells for human transplantation (which could be created from just 150 donors), but would supply stem cells that could be matched to 93% of the UK population.

To support this vital research and to continue the services already provided by this Charity, you can join Anne Twist and many others helping to bring hope towards a cure. You can start HERE

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Article: Harry Styles meets Manchester’s victim Freya Lewis

Article: Harry Styles meets Manchester’s victim Freya Lewis

Unknown-1September 3rd, 2017: Harry Styles has been promoting his first solo album “Harry.Styles” in the UK ahead of his solo tour set to begin in San Francisco on September 19th, 2017. As part of his promo Harry recorded a TV special in Manchester on August 30th. The special was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and will air on BBC in November of this year.

During the recording Harry said he was dedicating his performance of his first single SIGN.OF.THE.TIMES to Freya Lewis. Freya was severely injured in Manchester in May of this year after Ariana Grande’s concert, when a bomb went off at one of the entrances of the venue. The bombing caused the death of 22 people and injured other 250. Freya, who is 14 years old,  suffered numerous fractures, burns and lacerations.

Harry had already reached out to Freya, who is from Harry’s hometown Holmes Chapel, when she was hospitalized at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Harry called Freya’s dad and asked to talk to Freya. Freya’s sister Georgia posted on Facebook that Freya was thrilled to hear Harry’s voice and that her spirit got a big lift from talking to him. From Georgia Lewis’ Facebook: “Cannot believe it, Mr Harry Styles just rang my Dad. Hearing his voice has been a great lift and Freya has totally woken up and is completely in shock that he rang. They told each other that she loved him!!! Thank you everyone for everything!!! I love you all!!!! Xxx everyone is jumping for joy in the PICU unit xx I’m so happy rn,, i have no words. Reluctantly, I will admit it, I love you Harry!!!!!!!! Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

Harry is originally from the Manchester area and immediately after the bombing posted on twitter his heartbreak for what had happened.


Following the recording of the TV special on August 30th and his dedication of Sign of The Times to Freya, Harry met her backstage. Freya who has recovered from her injuries “was over the moon and in floods of tear”. Freya’s sister Georgia posted pictures of the meeting on Facebook.



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Article: Gemma Styles goes whitewater rafting to support Parkinson’s UK

Article: Gemma Styles goes whitewater rafting to support Parkinson’s UK

IMG_0536August 24th, 2017: Two days ago Gemma Styles announced on twitter that she will be taking part in a whitewater rafting event on September 10th organized to raise funds for Parkinson’s U.K. The event will be in Scotland and she will be accompanied by her boyfriend Michal Mlynowki (Mish). She has set up a justgiving page to help with the fundraiser just like her mom Anne Twist did for the same event in May of this year.

The Styles/Twist family has been a strong supporter of Parkinson’s U.K. over the last few years as they have direct experience with this disease (see our articles on May 6th 2017,  April 20th 2017, and July 11th 2016). Indeed, Anne’s father who is now in his early 80s,  has been diagnosed with Parkinson following the development of the initial symptoms when he was 70 years old.

IMG_0538Parkinson is a progressive neurological disorder caused by the degeneration of an area of the brain called the Substantia Nigra which produces the neurotransmitter dopamine. The Substantia Nigra via release of dopamine controls areas of the brain that mediate movement and reward. Thus, degeneration of this area of the brain in Parkinson causes symptoms such as tremor, unstable gait, depression, and anxiety. There is no cure for Parkinson but there are therapies including pharmacological therapy using precursors of dopamine and exercise-based therapy that can help slow the progression of the disease and maintain motor control.

The charity Parkinson U.K. is dedicated to raise funds to support cutting edge research to find a cure for Parkinson and to support patients and their families as they learn how to deal with this debilitating disease. Anne’s father is one of the people who has been benefiting from the help from this charity through support by nursing staff. From Parkinson U.K. webpage:

“Having Parkinson’s can feel overwhelming if you don’t have the right information and support. We’re here to help everyone feel in control of life with Parkinson’s.”

Please visit Gemma’s and Anne’s justgiving pages for the Scotland whitewater rafting event and consider donating to this cause. You can also directly donate to Parkinson U.K. by visiting their donation page.


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