Dave Frazer of National Pediatric Cancer Foundation On The 5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Pediatric Cancer

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readSep 18, 2022


In the fight against cancer, be sure to justify and validate the impact you want to make with your donation. The non-profit watch dog group (Charity Navigator) evaluates the value of non-profits. Those that receive a 4-star rating are best aligned with their purpose and fiduciary creed. The NPCF has been the top-rated cancer charity for 11 years in a row — as 89 cents of every dollar goes to our research effort.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. There is so much great information out there, but sometimes it is very difficult to filter out the noise. What causes cancer? Can it be prevented? How do you detect it? What are the odds of survival today? What are the different forms of cancer? What are the best treatments? And what is the best way to support someone impacted by cancer?

In this interview series called, “5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Pediatric Cancer” we are talking to experts about cancer such as oncologists, researchers, and medical directors to address these questions. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Frazer, CEO of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

As the Chief Executive Officer of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Dave leads management of the nonprofit and collaborates with a 25-member board of directors. Headquartered in Tampa, FL, the NPCF is a philanthropic organization dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer and focusing on finding less toxic, more targeted therapies by partnering with more than 30 leading hospitals nationwide.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory? What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My Grandfather was a huge inspiration in my life. He was an inventor who taught me to explore change and — through faith — work towards improving the lives of others.

This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?

I have dedicated my life to service. I started with service to our country — I am a retire Air Force Officer. After a 20-year career traveling the world, I trained public-safety first responders and served as an elected County Commissioner. Equally drawn to philanthropic service, I started my non-profit career with the American Heart Association, then the American Kidney Fund and now serve pediatric cancer patients and researchers with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I always like to highlight a staggering statistic: Of the millions of dollars dedicated to cancer research, only 4% of all federal funding is spent on projects involving childhood cancer. Most current standard treatments for pediatric cancer were approved 32 years ago — many before the 1980s. The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation recently launched a nationwide grant program called the 43 Challenge. The goal of the initiative is to encourage physicians, scientists and thought leaders to submit proposals for NPCF’s $4.3 million research grant, enabling innovative thinking and novel approaches to fight this disease. We wanted to explore the possibility that a novel proposal could possibly be found within another aspect of the fields of medicine, science or technology. Casting a wider net for this research opportunity offers a chance to explore fields which may have been previously overlooked with regard to cancer research.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of Cancer?

Although I am not a doctor, I am very invested in the process of fighting childhood cancer and creating a world where families don’t have to worry. My role at NPCF allows me to work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best doctors and scientists around the country, providing direct insight into the advances in science and cancer research. The NPCF also works directly with children every day, so I see first-hand how detrimental this disease can be for both children and their families.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with some basic definitions so that we are all on the same page. What is exactly cancer?

Simply stated, cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. It is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide.

What is the difference between the different forms of cancer?

Cancers differ based on what part of our body is affected. For example, Leukemia affects the blood; Neuroblastoma affects the nerves; Sarcoma affects bone and tissue; Hepatoblastoma impacts the liver; and Retinoblastoma impacts the eyes.

Cancer can impact anyone at any age, and causes can vary greatly. While there are great distinctions between different types of cancer, let’s talk about what makes pediatric cancer different. We are acutely aware that pediatric cancer research only receives 4% of federal funding, which is not enough to make the radical advances that are desperately needed. We also know that 43 children are diagnosed each day with cancer, and due to the toxicity of treatments, two out of every three survivors will develop at least one chronic health condition, including musculoskeletal problems and second cancers.

I know that the next few questions are huge topics, but we’d love to hear your thoughts regardless. How can cancer be prevented?

You can’t 100% prevent any form of cancer. You can take precautions like consuming a healthy diet, take part in frequent exercise, wear sunscreen and reduce the use of harmful chemicals. However, in most cases, your genetics matter most. Making regular trips to the doctor gives health care providers the chance to catch anything unordinary early on, in addition to helping individuals understand their baseline health.

How can one detect the main forms of cancer?

If symptoms occur, or a screening test result suggests cancer, the doctor must find out whether it is due to cancer or some other cause. The doctor may ask about personal and family medical history and conduct a physical examination. The team of physicians may also order lab tests, scans, or other tests and procedures. This further emphasizes why it’s so important to see your doctor regularly.

Cancer used to almost be a death sentence, but it seems that it has changed today. What are the odds of surviving cancer today?

Every person’s experience with cancer — and the various forms of treatment — are unique to that individual. While one patient may experience one side effect, it does not guarantee that another patient will have the exact same experience. Personalized treatment plans are so important, especially in children.

Can you share some of the new cutting-edge treatments for cancer that have recently emerged? What new cancer treatment innovations are you most excited to see come to fruition in the near future?

With the help of the NPCF’s 43 Challenge grant program, we are funding several unique projects to carry on cancer research. These projects take a look outside of the oncology field and explore the possibility that a cure can be found in another sector of science, medicine and technology.

Just recently, we announced the winners of the 43 Challenge’s $4.3 million research grant. In working with thought leaders around the country, the grant committee identified the top, most promising theories that merited further funding and research. Among the winners are pediatric oncologist, Dr. Dan Weiser at Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center/Children’s Hospital at Montefiore; Dr. Keisuke Iwamoto at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Dr. Gregory Sullivan at Paratope Bio, LLC.

Dr. Weiser’s science has identified a novel technology that can control and degrade a specific c-MYC gene (known as the master regulator) across many types of cancer. Since c-MYC is detected in 74% of human cancers, the ability to degrade and attack this common link has the potential to transform the treatment of cancer.

Dr. Iwamoto is a renowned expert on radiation and its use in cancer treatment. Using his studies into the radiological effects of nuclear bombs on survivors during WWII, he will use quantum mechanics to precisely target specific tumor cells without harming normal cells, revolutionizing cancer treatment. The method uses conventional clinical procedures in a novel combination within a weak magnetic field, akin to a refrigerator magnet’s. If successful, it could be introduced into any hospital without major infrastructural, financial, or procedural difficulty to treat children and even infants with medulloblastoma, the most common childhood brain cancer.

The work of Dr. Sullivan and Paratope Bio, LLC will leapfrog traditional drug development to produce a smart set of innate antibodies that have limited toxicity and would specifically attack pediatric tumors.

Incredibly exciting stuff!

Healing usually takes place between doctor visits. What have you found to be most beneficial to assist a patient to heal?

Again, everyone’s experience is unique, and children are particularly vulnerable. At NPCF, we have a health navigator (a registered nurse) that consults with families and provides guidance throughout their experience. Our team is particularly trained and focused on the impact of cancer on our youngest patients: our children. Our goal is to support them and their families as they work through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, while continuing to bring awareness and funding to this devastating disease.

From your experience, what are a few of the best ways to support a loved one, friend, or colleague who is impacted by cancer?

Truly, the best way is to get involved and help raise funds. We know that research is paramount; however, it is very expensive. The best way to fight back and support is to donate to research and help us find better treatments. The NPCF has a number of events, fundraisers and call-to-action campaigns outlined on our website for supporters to get involved. We also encourage anyone who wants to help to seek out opportunities in their own communities through fundraisers and initiatives of their own… every little bit helps makes a difference. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so we encourage folks to visit our social media channels to learn how they can get involved.

What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?

In the fight against cancer, be sure to justify and validate the impact you want to make with your donation. The non-profit watch dog group (Charity Navigator) evaluates the value of non-profits. Those that receive a 4-star rating are best aligned with their purpose and fiduciary creed. The NPCF has been the top-rated cancer charity for 11 years in a row — as 89 cents of every dollar goes to our research effort.

Thank you so much for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what are your “5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease among children
  2. Too many children are impacted by cancer — 43 children are diagnosed each day
  3. Only 4% of the government funds supports pediatric cancer research
  4. 95% of children impacted by cancer will have lifetime impairments
  5. Collaborative research is producing results!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We’re already making strides with the 43 Challenge. In recognition of the 43 children a day diagnosed with cancer, we’re asking people to donate to research using an increment of 43 — whether that be 43 cents, 43 dollars or any amount tied to 43. We also challenge them to do 43 things, such as engage 43 friends and co-workers, dedicate 43 minutes of service time, etc.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We encourage people to visit National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s website www.nationalpcf.org or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Journalist, Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor