Posts tagged ‘Penn State’
Editor’s Note: Penn State’s THON Weekend is Feb. 20-22. Students will dance for 46-hours to support pediatric cancer patients. To date, $114 million has been raised and donated to Four Diamonds, a foundation that supports the families of pediatric patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and the cancer research done here. For more information on THON, or to watch the activities live, visit THON.org. For more information on Four Diamonds, visit FourDiamonds.org.
Playing iPad games and shaking a tambourine may not seem special to the parents of most preschoolers.
But, for parents of children battling cancer, it’s the little things like these that can brighten even the darkest of days.
Providing normalcy in the midst of treatment is part of the services supported by Four Diamonds, the sole beneficiary of The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) happening this weekend.
Four Diamonds supports children and their families facing the challenges of pediatric cancer by paying for care and treatment not covered by insurance or other means as well as additional expenses that disrupt the welfare of the children.
One of those families is the Hess family from Harrisburg. Lydia was diagnosed with leukemia in April of 2014 at the age of 2.
Four Diamonds makes it possible for 16 specialty care providers to be available exclusively to Four Diamonds patients and their families – including child life specialists, a clinical nutritionist, a clinical psychologist, nurse specialists, social workers, music therapists, a clinical nutritionist, and pastoral care.
“All of those things have made Lydia’s life and our days so much easier,” said Julie Hess, Lydia’s mother. “Just to make one day easier is a big deal to us. We’ve had a lot of really hard days.”
Lydia’s diagnosis was a complete surprise to the family. Last winter, she had recurring fevers.
“She was 2 and interacting with other kids — going to preschool once a week, swim classes and church– so we figured she was just picking up all the germs,” Julie said.
In April, Lydia’s fever spiked higher than normal and she began complaining of finger pain. Julie and her husband, Brandon, suspected something unusual was happening.
“The pediatrician examined her and said ‘let’s do some x-rays, let’s do some blood work,’ but they never mentioned the word cancer or leukemia,” Julie said.
Two hours after Lydia’s appointment, her doctor called the family.
“You know when you get a call at home that quickly after you’ve been there, it’s not good,” Julie said.
If laughter really is the best medicine, Bailey Sanders is going to make a great doctor. Sanders was chosen by her peers in Penn State College of Medicine’s Class of 2014 to give this year’s student commencement address. The future doctor kept the crowd in stitches, threading together humorous examples to illustrate three components to building a life and career free of regrets.
Sanders posited that passion is one key ingredient, and for an example looked to a scientist who drank the contents of his own petri dish and “documented his subsequent suffering with regular biopsies and his mother’s opinion of how his breath smelled.” The unconventional experiment resulted in a Nobel Prize.
To hear Sanders’ full commencement speech, watch this video:
On July 23, Melissa Masse celebrated her 34th birthday in the operating room of Penn State Hershey, watching Dr. Riaz Shah hold up a kidney while the medical team sang “Happy Birthday.”
Earlier that morning, doctors had harvested a kidney from her husband, Chris, and sent it to a major metropolitan area where it would be given to someone as unknown to the Masses as the donor whose organ became a birthday present for Melissa.
The surgeries were just two links in a complex transplant chain that allowed four people to receive healthy kidneys despite not having compatible live donors. Known as a “kidney swap,” Penn State Hershey offers the program as an alternative to dialysis and years of waiting for a deceased donor organ.
Melissa had been diagnosed with diabetes at age 11, but it wasn’t until stomach trouble and vomiting sent her to an emergency department in August 2012 and doctors noted her poor kidney function that she was sent to a specialist. By the end of the year, the South Williamsport woman was added to the list of people waiting for a healthy kidney.
Because the average person waits more than six years for a kidney, and because the mortality rate for those on dialysis is 50 percent after five years, Melissa’s husband offered to be a live donor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a match. Nor was her boss. Or her best friend.
“I was devastated,” Chris said. He knew his wife was hoping for a live donor so there would be less chance her body would reject the new kidney. So he told transplant coordinator Vicky Reilly that he would donate his kidney to someone he had never met so that his wife could receive a healthy kidney from someone she had never met. (more…)
Growing up in Togo, West Africa, Elom Amoussou-Kpeto was acutely aware of the barriers that kept people from accessing quality health care. Not only was there a lack of highly skilled providers, but transportation was a challenge.
He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a nurse, who cared for the whole community “doing almost what a doctor would do,” he said.
Amoussou-Kpeto realized that by becoming a doctor, he could give so much back to the community: “That is my ultimate objective.”
So, upon graduating high school with good grades, he applied to Camden Community College near Philadelphia, where an uncle lived. Once accepted, he began the process of obtaining a Visa to come study in the United States, where he felt like he would get a better education.
After two years studying biology there, he transferred to Temple University to finish a degree in biochemistry. It was a rocky road though.
Language was a huge barrier. Amoussou-Kpeto grew up speaking Ewe and French. In school, he learned to read and write some English, but had difficulty expressing himself in the new language. “I felt like time was constantly working against me–especially with standardized tests,” he said. “I felt like I was fighting a combat on two fronts–between who I am and who I want to be.” (more…)
You may know the legend of King Arthur, but chances are you do not know the story of Sir Millard, the evils he faced or the battles he won, even though every year, the new-age knights he has inspired take up his quest to battle pediatric cancer.
Every year, those champions, in the form of 15,000 Penn State student volunteers, fight their battle via year-long fundraising that culminates in THON weekend at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. This weekend marks the forty-first annual THON dance marathon.
Sir Millard, a.k.a. Christopher Millard, penned his story called “The Four Diamonds” before he died of cancer at the age of 14 in 1972. He had no way of knowing the legacy he would leave behind.
The day he died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his parents, Charles and Irma Millard, started the Four Diamonds Fund to raise money to assist pediatric cancer patients and their families with expenses outside those insurance will cover while their children are undergoing treatment.
THON weekend is a celebration of the efforts of the volunteers–joined by their fellow students, Four Diamonds Families, and their many supporters–who dedicate their time to raising money and increasing awareness for pediatric cancer.
It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $89 million to date, more than $10 million last year alone. Participants hope to surpass $100 million with this year’s total, which exclusively benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. (more…)
When you walk into a room filled with smiles, laughter, toys, games, and an over-all atmosphere of fun, it’s easy to forget you’re in a hospital.
That is exactly the goal of the Child Life Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Child Life offers patients support through its programming, including a fall visit from Olympic gold medalist Jamie Gray. Originally from nearby Lebanon, Pa., Gray was inspired to visit Hershey by the young patients she met at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Baton Rouge, La.
Much to the delight of the Hershey children and their families, Gray recently participated in their weekly BINGO game, spending time with families and answering questions about the Olympics. Sharing her gold medal in 50-meter rifle three position, she didn’t even mind when one little friend got chocolate from his hands on it.
Gray was touched by the children’s resiliency, especially after watching her mother, Karen Beyerle, battle and defeat breast cancer.
“I think it’s amazing to see how happy they are going through so much adversity,” she said. “I think they’re inspiring, honestly.”
It isn’t hard to see the difference Child Life makes with while watching 8 year-old Izaiah Robinson from Boalsburg, Pa., nearly running to the prize table, with a huge smile across his face. (more…)
The Medical Center surpassed the $200 million mark in its current $300 million fundraising initiative, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Launched in January 2007 as part of a university-wide $2 billion fundraising effort, the Medical Center and College of Medicine campaign provides support for advancing patient care, ensuring that the best and brightest students can afford a world-class medical education, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, and funding novel research that leads to breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment.
The campaign, which runs through June 30, 2014, has garnered landmark gifts to expand and improve facilities, including contributions for the Cancer Institute and the new, freestanding Children’s Hospital building, scheduled to open in the fall. Even as the economy faltered in recent years, the community continued to generously support the Medical Center and College of Medicine’s missions of patient care, education, research, and community service. Since 2007, more than 200,000 donors have made gifts to the campaign.
The campaign has generated tremendous support from a wide range of philanthropic partners. Gifts from corporations and foundations total nearly $30 million, and 17 donors have made individual contributions exceeding $1 million to various campaign priorities. Collectively, Medical Center and College faculty and staff have given $3 million during the campaign, underscoring a deep commitment to the institution’s missions.
“Reaching this tremendous milestone with just a little more than two years remaining in the campaign reflects the incredible generosity of our community members and exemplifies the dedication of our employees and volunteers,” said Dennis P. Brenckle, chair, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “Each gift to the campaign affirms the vital role the Medical Center and College of Medicine play in improving public health.”