Arrowtown’s Jed Crawford thought he’d try to raise $1000 for cancer research by shaving his head in honour of his late dad.
Two weeks later, he’s banked more than $21,500 towards a $3 million clinical trial, by Wellington’s Gillies McIndoe Research Institute.
It’s testing different treatment for cancers like the one his dad, Keith Crawford, had.
The much-loved Fork and Tap publican lost his 14-year fight with glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumour, in May, aged 49.
November 9 would have been his 50th birthday.
So to help make the day positive his daughter, Zoe, 13, will use his shaver to lop off Jed’s locks at the Arrowtown pub.
Once he decided to do ‘The Big Shave’, the 10-year-old’s goal was to help other families.
“I just thought people that have been through the same thing as me, it’s pretty hard, I thought ‘why not help people that are going through what I am?’,” Jed says.
He and his mum, Jeannie, found Dr Swee Tan’s institute, which has been looking at cancer causes and treatments for five years.
Of the 14 they’ve researched all have a “cancer stem cell”.
Using a beehive analogy, Tan tells Mountain Scene the worker bees are the cancer cells – traditionally thought to have caused cancer.
But inside the hive is the Queen, or cancer stem cell.
“The Queen bee is the reason why there is a beehive, and the Queen bee gives rise to the worker bees … but the Queen bee also gives rise to Queen bees.”
The Queens, resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, can clone themselves, establish hives elsewhere and attract other worker bees, which, he says, explains why cancer pops up in other places, or recurs after remission.
“As a result of our investigation we have come up with a new cancer treatment … instead of targeting cancer cells … we go after the Queen bees,” Tan says.
The cost of his oral treatment’s about $4000 a year – at the moment, it’s around $45,000.
While it won’t cure cancer, he hopes people will die with it, instead of from it.
Preliminary results from the trial, involving 25 Kiwis, are expected in a couple of years and Jeannie says had husband Keith survived he would have put his hand up to be involved.
“He would have loved something outside of the chemotherapy and radiation and surgery; they were pretty hard options.”
Tan invited the Crawfords to tour the centre last week and was “honoured” to meet Jed.
“[He’s] 10 years old and lost his father to this cancer, but with courage and compassion he has turned his own sadness into hope for other people.
“They are a wonderful family and given the grief that they are going through … for Jed to be able just to do this at a very young age shows amazing courage. He’s a very special boy and I know he will go a long way.”
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