Local family turns grief into hope for kids battling brain cancer

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One local family is turning grief into hope for kids battling brain cancer. (WPVI)

Amy and Hank Summy say their little girl, Naya, had a personality that was larger than life.

She was bright and loved animals. Even through a nearly 2-year battle with cancer, Naya kept a smile. She was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in 2013 when she was 9.

"You're just thrown into this world that you don't know," said Amy Summy.

Naya had surgery, and months of chemotherapy and radiation. She became an ambassador for the Children's Hospital Parkway Run, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for research.

While treatment worked at first, her cancer came back, and sadly there were no more options. Naya died when she was 11.

To fulfill a promise, Amy started the No More Kids with Cancer Foundation.

Recently, it gave a $155,000 grant to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center for a phase-one clinical trial, testing a modified version of the measles virus to treat medulloblastoma.

Action News spoke with the researcher via Skype, who says the money will help expand the trial to more hospitals.

"Which obviously significantly speeds up enrollment into the trial, and then we'll have the results much sooner," said Dr. Sabine Mueller, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

The theory is the modified measles virus is injected, it attaches to and kills cancer cells without hurting normal cells. It's been shown to work in mice.

Naya's father says they're putting every dollar donated directly toward research like this.

"If we put money behind it, we'll figure it out and find cures," said Hank Summy.

"I'll feel good, and I think Naya will feel good when we save a kid, when some child lives because of research we helped support," said Amy Summy.

Eventually the trial will be at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

For more information about No More Kids With Cancer, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the UCSF Medical Center clinical trial, CLICK HERE.

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