Vincristine Shortage – Note To Pediatric Oncologists

Oct 17, 2019 | Advocacy, Childhood Cancer, Dean's Reflections, Rally Blog | 0 comments

Dear Pediatric Oncologists,

As I’m sure you’re aware, the vincristine shortage is very real. But what I want you to know is that I am sorry. I know this is hard—hard on the families who can’t get vincristine for their kids, but also hard on you as these precious children’s doctors. My heart breaks for the families and for you. It cannot be easy to look a parent and a child in eye and tell them that they will not be able to get vincristine, the very medicine you told them they needed to save their life.

I am sorry. We have failed our children who are fighting cancer, and we have failed you as their doctors. I am still trying to figure out how this has happened in America.

The sacrifices you made to become a pediatric oncologist are nothing short of heroic. My son is a first-year neurology resident in Boston, so I’ve seen firsthand (and stand amazed) of what every doctor goes through not only to get in medical school, but to succeed while you are there. The intensity, the sacrifices and the cost are all beyond belief. Then, you go through residency for three years to become a pediatrician, where the workload is high and the pay is low. Finally, to become a pediatric oncologist, you must complete a three-year fellowship where you work harder than ever.

You choose, on your own, to become a specialist that took an extra three years of training. You choose to take care of very sick kids who are fighting one of the most dreadful diseases out there: cancer. You see deep suffering that most of us will never experience. You become families’ lifelines and dear friends. You make kids well but also watch kids die before your eyes. You deliver happy news of clear scans and no evidence of disease, but also gut-wrenching, devastating news that the cancer has returned, or even worse: that there is nothing more that can be done.

And now to add to your load, you have to tell families that there isn’t enough vincristine available—the most commonly used drug to fight a plethora of childhood cancers. I am sorry. You deserve so much better.

I just wanted you to know that. Yes, it is all about the kids, but without you, the kids wouldn’t stand a chance. You are our heroes, and I thank you for your sacrifice from the moment you decided to become a medical doctor to where you are today as pediatric oncologists. Thank you for loving our kids. Thank you for the endless hours, long days and for working throughout the night to save our kids’ lives.

The vincristine shortage is real, and the suffering and angst it causes you is real, too. We are fighting for you to have the vincristine so desperately needed to cure these kids fighting the cancer beast. I just wanted you to know that in this crisis, you are not forgotten.

Dean Crowe, Founder & CEO of Rally


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