Posts tagged ‘pediatric cancer’

In their shoes: pediatric cancer survivors grown up and working “For the Kids”

A young man wearing a button-down shirt with a Hershey Medical Center logo leans over a patient bed and wipes the side rail with a cloth. He is wearing purple gloves. The bed has a Hershey Medical Center logo on the headboard.

Cole Horne, a former Four Diamonds child, cleans a patient bed at Hershey Medical Center.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Cole Horne knows that being diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma at age 6 was a life-changing moment, but his memories are not of the large tumor that had to be removed or the five months of chemotherapy that followed; he remembers the fun.

Yes, the fun.

“When you are in Penn State Children’s Hospital, you don’t even feel like you’re in the hospital. There’s music therapy, pet therapy, bingo,” said Horne, now 20 and cancer-free for 13 years. “Then I began participating in THON when I was 7 until I was 13, and that took my mind off what was going on. Everyone is so happy, and they’re there celebrating you.”

Today this childhood cancer survivor is back at Penn State Health, this time as an employee, drawn back because of the excellent support he and his family received from the staff and Four Diamonds.

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August 7, 2018 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Pediatric Cancer Treatment Advances Bring New Hope to Children Battling Cancer

By Marianne Clay

Dr. Barbara A. Miller, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital, discusses the significant improvements in the treatment of pediatric cancer over the past four decades that have boosted survival rates.

Woman with brown hair and glasses wears lab coat with Penn State College of Medicine logo.

Dr. Barbara A. Miller is the chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

How have treatments for pediatric cancer improved since 1974?

  • The treatment regimens are much more complex. Multi-drug regimens are very common, often with higher drug doses and incorporating new or improved drugs.
  • Risk-directed therapies are more commonly used. Patients are now often stratified into “low” risk, meaning that their disease responds better to current therapies, and they require less intensive therapy, compared to “high” risk, meaning they are at high risk for a relapse and require more intensive therapies to give a better chance of cure. The genetic and biological criteria for designing therapies are continually being better defined.
  • New drugs are available that are biologically targeted and have fewer side effects, and more of these are currently being developed. However, we still need to learn a lot about how to use them, including what diseases they are effective in, how to use them with conventional chemotherapy and with each other, and for how long. (more…)

February 12, 2018 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

Alex Smith: A Four Diamonds child pays it forward

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Treatment outcomes for children with cancer have made tremendous improvements over the past 50 years, but the reality is one in five children with cancer will die of their disease within five years. Four Diamonds is on a mission to change this reality. Join Four Diamonds as a Partner In The Fight to conquer childhood cancer by raising awareness and taking action. Visit FourDiamonds.org and #GoGoldFTK. Below is Alex’s story and her family’s experience with childhood cancer and how Four Diamonds has helped them.

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By Jade Kelly Solovey

Aleksandra “Alex” Smith is, in many ways, your typical 14-year-old.

Upon meeting her, you quickly realize that she’s also unique. Alex was adopted from Russia when she was 7 months old and now lives in Carlisle with her parents and little brother.

She is funny and artistic and her mother describes her as delightful, engaging and entertaining. Although she has autism, she is mainstreamed and attends Carlisle Christian Academy.

All of that is part of the uniqueness that makes the avid Hershey Bears fan “Alex.” One thing that really sets Alex apart from her peers is that she is a Four Diamonds child, dealing with pediatric cancer.

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September 13, 2017 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

Pediatric survivorship program provides support after treatment

Penn State Hershey program is supported by Four Diamonds.

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An event on Feb. 21 brought the excitement of Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The THON Reveal Party in the Tree House Café coincided with the final moments of the 46-hour dance marathon. Those moments included the final “reveal” that the latest effort had raised $9.8 million for Four Diamonds, whose mission is to conquer childhood cancer. One of the programs supported by Four Diamonds is the pediatric cancer survivorship clinic.

Each year, as the rate of children cured from pediatric cancers increases, so does the need for ongoing care of the young survivors.

Six years ago, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital started a survivorship clinic to educate children and young adults who have completed their cancer treatments about the therapy they received and possible late-arriving side effects of it.

“Most of the time, therapy-related complications happen several years after therapy is finished, when they are young adults,” said Dr. Smita Dandekar, head of the program. That’s why children are invited to the program at least five years after their original diagnosis, and at least two years after they have completed their treatments.

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February 22, 2016 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

‘Four Diamonds is absolutely instrumental for testing novel ideas’

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Four Diamonds support brings new pediatric cancer researchers to Penn State College of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Penn State’s THON Weekend is Feb. 19-21. Students will dance for 46-hours to support pediatric cancer patients. To date, $127 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.

Their journeys started halfway around the world, but their shared passion for uncovering the causes of pediatric cancer brought them to Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Wei Li is originally from Peking, China, and Dr. Vladimir Spiegelman is originally from Moscow. Now both are in Hershey, through funding from Four Diamonds, working to understand how pediatric cancers develop in the hopes of discovering new lifesaving therapies.

Dr. Li, assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, came from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Spiegelman, Pan Hellenic Dance Marathon Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology and professor in the Department of Pediatrics, was most recently at University of Wisconsin.

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February 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Jack Myers is all heart in Ecuador: Years of life-saving surgeries performed on pediatric patients

When Ryan Mathis was a student at Hershey High School, he traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador, with Penn State Hershey pediatric heart surgeon Dr. John “Jack” Myers. There, he saw parents canoe or carry their children across bodies of water to arrive at a hospital where they’d wait with hundreds of others for a chance to receive life-saving heart surgery.

That experience — along with a second trip with Myers while in college — reinforced Mathis’s decision to attend medical school and gave him a new appreciation for medical advances and technology in the United States.

Now a plastic surgery resident at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Mathis hopes to form a career to Blepharoplasty Los Angeles so he can afford to take a month each year to share his skills with developing countries.

“You can’t even comprehend the degree of poverty there — it really puts things in perspective,” he said.

Dr. Jack Myers with a  young patient in Ecuador

Dr. Jack Myers with a young patient in Ecuador.

Myers and Dr. Stephen Cyran, Children’s Heart Group, first traveled to Ecuador 16 years ago, when the country had no surgical equipment or trained personnel to fix congenital heart problems in children.

The hospital they arrived at in the city of Guayaquil looked like a dilapidated warehouse, with corrugated steel hanging from the ceilings, bugs coming out of the water faucets and very limited resources.

“We waited for the team from Hershey to come for 15 days, hoped they would cure the biggest number of children possible while they were here, and that they would return quickly,” said Dr. David Maldonado, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at the Hospital de Niños Roberto Gilbert E. in Guayaquil.

Each year, without fail, the team of medical professionals and students returned. Myers estimates that nearly 400 people from the Penn State Hershey community have been part of the trips over the years. (more…)

March 6, 2015 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

Four Diamonds assists families like the Hess family during cancer fights

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.

Lydia Hess

Lydia Hess

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. If currently you have drug substances on your blood and have a drug test coming up I suggest getting synthetic urine to keep all those substances not getting noticed.

“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.

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February 20, 2015 at 7:01 am Leave a comment

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