Blake Shelton Launches Cancer Research Program to Honor His Young Cousin
Blake Shelton has founded a cancer research program at a children's hospital in Oklahoma in honor of his young cousin, who has battled the disease.
People reports that the 42-year-old "I Lived It" singer recently established the Blake Shelton Cancer Research Program at Oklahoma University’s Children's Hospital in honor of his 2-year-old cousin, Aspen Van Horn. Van Horn underwent treatment at the hospital's Jimmy Everest Center for a neuroblastoma tumor when she was just 5 months old.
According to St. Jude, neuroblastoma is a very rare form of cancer that develops from nerve cells in the fetus and almost always affects children. It accounts for 7 to 10 percent of childhood cancers. Van Horn has undergone two blood transfusions, three rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove a large part of her tumor. She will turn three in January of 2019.
Shelton credits the children's hospital for saving his cousin's life, and he previously donated $600,000 to the facility in 2016 during a concert date in Oklahoma City.
"They don’t turn any kids away," Shelton told his audience. "You come in there, you have a problem, they don’t turn anybody away, so I thought, 'That’s a place that needs some money.'"
According to the Children's Hospital Foundation, their programs serve more than 234,000 patients each year. All of the funds that they raise remain in Oklahoma, ensuring that kids will have access to the best pediatric specialists without having to leave the state.
"We are so thankful for Blake's support in defeating childhood cancer. We have what I would consider to be one of the top cancer centers in America here in our footsteps, providing the best care possible for our kids with cancer," Children's Hospital Foundation's board President Chip Keating tells the Ada News, Shelton's hometown newspaper. "This research program will help us further our mission to see more kids ring the bell, symbolizing the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer."
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