Garrettsville – The Friends of Melana Foundation was formed 3 ½ year ago in Garrettsville to help foster awareness and provide funding for children’s glioma brain cancer research. The local foundation was named in memory of nine-year-old Melana Matson whose life was claimed by the disease in 2009. Founded by Garrettsville residents Norm and Joyce Fashing, Melana’s grandparents, the group has raised nearly $60,000 in funding for children’s glioma cancer research, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in young people.
Glioma brain cancer research has been grossly under funded for decades and children diagnosed with the disease had been basically given a death sentence. Children stricken with the disease are unlikely to live beyond five years, and with some as little as nine to twelve months from date of diagnosis.
In 2011, the Friends of Melana joined forces with their parent foundation, the Cleveland based Prayers From Maria Children‘s Glioma Cancer Foundation. The two non-profit groups pool their resources and have, to date, awarded two $100,000 research grants as seed money to researchers. The start up funding is necessary to establish promising preliminary research data before being considered for a government continuation grant. The first grant went to Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center and the second to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Both grants have produced some very positive results. The MetroHeath group has been awarded a $3.3 million continuation grant from the National Cancer Institute, and the Boston group has finally been able to take biopsies from gliomas in children without causing fatal harm, and has also developed treatments for two of the five mutations that have been identified and commonly found in children’s gliomas.
On September 8th it was announced that the Melana Matson Memorial research grant of $250,000 was awarded to Dr. James P. Basilion, associate professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Case Westerm Reserve University.
Although the Friends of Melana Foundation is a small, grass-roots non-profit group working in a basically rural geographical area in northern Portage County, the group is highly regarded by the parent foundation because of its efforts and contributions to the cause. In recognition and appreciation for Friends of Melana’s contributions, the Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation will name the next grant ‘The Melana Matson Memorial Grant’, the first grant awarded in honor of a stricken child.
According to Friends of Melana President Norm Fashing, “We are very excited, truly blessed, and honored by this recognition. It gives us a shot in the arm to keep us going in the fight against childhood cancer. No other child should have to go through what Melana had to endure with this deadly disease.”
Friends of Melana is a partner with the Prayers From Maria Foundation, a 501 C3 non-profit foundation, www.stopkidscancer.org. Donations towards further research can be mailed to: Friends of Melana, P.O. Box 204, Garrettsville, Ohio, 44231.