“The hospital is a foreign land to many people, but I speak the language and can interpret what doctors are saying,” says Dr. Jill Ostrager, whose son was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2010. That diagnosis is what prompted Ostrager, an internist at Westmed, to join forces with Band of Parents — a nonprofit organization founded by a group of parents who refused to believe that there was no hope for their children due to a lack of funding for more research.
In 2012, the organization, which funds innovative research and clinical trials for neuroblastoma, appointed Ostrager as its president. She also sits on the board of directors and chairs the group’s annual fundraising gala.
Since its inception, Band of Parents has donated more than $8 million for pediatric cancer research. The organization is the lead independent backer of neuroblastoma research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Under her leadership, Band of Parents now supports funding research at several cancer centers nationwide.
The organization’s mission is to fast-track a cure using less toxic, targeted therapies. Band of Parents provided majority funding for Humanized 3F8 — an immunotherapy treatment that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight the disease. Dr. Ostrager’s son completed the treatment in 2014 and currently has no evidence of disease. Although it’s still in active trials, the results are described as “groundbreaking.”
Band of Parents also promotes advocacy and provides support for the newly diagnosed and their families.