Cancer and Blood Disorders

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Childhood Cancer “Awareness”

Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader of Seattle Children's Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

Sometimes I hesitate to tell people what I do for a living. This isn’t because I don’t love what I do (I do), but because the idea of kids with cancer seems to make people uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because they think of their own children and feel that urgent need to protect them, coupled with sudden gratitude that their own kids are healthy. Perhaps they think of the heartstring-pulling commercials featuring cute, bald children. Or, maybe they think of melodramatic movies where the patients with cancer always die. Perhaps they relive their own experiences involving older adults, friends or family members who suffered from cancer.

Regardless of their reasoning, the expectation seems to be that pediatric cancer must be sad. And sometimes, it is. But there’s also a lot of hope. So, in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to share what I think of kids with cancer below. Read full post »

Healing Through Art

Art therapist Rosalie Frankel with 11-year-old patient Jaylin Israel-Tompson

Art therapist Rosalie Frankel with 11-year-old patient Jaylin Israel-Tompson after completing an art therapy session

Twelve-year-old Selphie Luann Enderle has been in and out of Seattle Children’s Hospital since she was 3 years old for treatment of cystic fibrosis. While the long hospital stays can be difficult, there is one activity that she always looks forward to – her art therapy sessions. The joy these sessions bring her is evident by her reaction to the sight of art therapist Helena Hillinga Haas approaching her hospital room with a colorful cart in tow, overflowing with markers, crayons and construction paper.

“You’re here!” she exclaims as she jumps out of bed, throwing her hands in the air and running to the door. “I’ve been waiting.”

Selphie is one the many patients at Seattle Children’s who benefit from the unique therapy that compliments traditional medicine by providing patients with a creative outlet to express themselves, process emotions and reconnect to the playfulness of childhood. As art therapists, Hillinga Haas and Rosalie Frankel are trained to develop patient’s art skills while also focusing on their emotional needs.

“We work to address the mind-body connection and aid in the healing process by helping our patients relax and express their emotions in an enjoyable way,” said Frankel, who began the art therapy program at Seattle Children’s 15 years ago. “Our goal is always to help our patients find moments of comfort by providing them with this cathartic outlet that also often serves as a welcomed distraction.” Read full post »

Preserving Hope for Young Cancer Patients to Have Families in the Future

Shannon Keating had to think about fertility preservation before she began treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.

Family planning is not the first thing a young, newly diagnosed cancer patient might think about. But for adolescents and young adults facing cancer treatment that could leave them infertile, preserving the ability to have babies should be part of the conversation at the doctor’s office.

A new study published today in Cancer and led by Dr. Margarett Shnorhavorian, a pediatric urologist and researcher at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute Center for Clinical and Translational Research, found a need for increased awareness of fertility preservation for young cancer patients. The study was based on 459 adolescents and young adults who were diagnosed with cancer in 2007 or 2008. The patients were aged 15 to 39 years when diagnosed with germ cell tumor, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, acute lymphocytic leukemia, or sarcoma. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s to Host Documentary Screening on HPV Vaccine

Human Papilloma Virus vaccine with syringe in vial at a clinic.Development of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been touted as one of the greatest victories in cancer prevention, and yet, only a minority of adolescents in Washington state have received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. Less than half of girls complete the vaccine and only 13% of boys do.

“We know nearly 80% of Americans are infected with HPV and that this virus can cause several types of cancer, including cervical cancer,” said Dr. Rachel Katzenellenbogen, an adolescent medicine expert at Seattle Children’s and an investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Global Infectious Disease Research. “And still, too few are getting this life-saving vaccine.”

To raise awareness of this public health concern, Seattle Children’s will show the documentary film “Someone You Love” in the hospital’s Wright Auditorium on April 24. The film shares the stories of five women who have been affected by HPV. Each of them, and their families, must cope with the misconceptions, stigma and shame associated with the sexually transmitted virus. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Research Institute to Host International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology

Dr. Mike Jensen, director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, will be a keynote speaker at the 4th International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology.

Dr. Mike Jensen, director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, will be a keynote speaker at the 4th International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology.

On Sept. 25 and 26, Seattle Children’s Research Institute will host the 4th International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology (CIPO2015), “Examining the Emerging Therapeutic Potential of Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology.” This two-day program brings together scientists and healthcare leaders from around the world to discuss the latest immunotherapy research in the field of pediatric oncology.

“We expect to bring together hundreds of national and international oncology and immunology professionals with the goal of providing opportunities for scientific exchange, collaboration, problem-solving and mentoring,” said Dr. Mike Jensen, director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “The conference will provide a venue to present new data and explore emerging concepts in an effort to bring immune-based therapies to more children with pediatric cancer.” Read full post »

Study Shows Insurance Status is Associated with Cancer Mortality in Teens and Young Adults

Health insuranceAbout 70,000 young people ages 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., and cancer is leading cause of death from disease in this age group. While cancer survival continues to improve for children and older adults, outcomes have greatly lagged for teens and young adults.

In recognizing this worrisome disparity, the medical community is working to identify the factors that may be contributing to this population’s inferior survival outcomes. In a study featured today on the cover of Cancer, “Insurance status and risk of cancer mortality among adolescents and young adults,” researchers have identified one of those factors: lack of health insurance and limited access to medical care. Read full post »

Music Therapy: Treating the Souls and Spirits of Patients

David Knott and Betsy Hartman may not wear a white coat or operate a stethoscope, but for patients at Seattle Children’s, they offer a unique kind of medicine in the form of music. Both board-certified music therapists, Knott and Hartman pair their musical talents with their passion to help heal patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital through music therapy.

Music therapy is the use of music to achieve non-musical goals, such as reducing the perception of pain, providing opportunities for non-verbal expression and facilitating rehabilitation and relaxation. Knott and Hartman use singing, listening to music and playing instruments to help treat patients of all ages spanning a variety of health issues. Read full post »

NASCAR Driver Kasey Kahne Surprises Kids at Seattle Children’s, Supports Strong Against Cancer

Nicolas Tobias - Web

Kasey Kahne today took some time away from the race track to visit patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, and Enumclaw, Wash., native made a surprise visit to the hospital after announcing that he’ll be teaming up with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to help put an end to childhood cancer by choosing Strong Against Cancer as this year’s beneficiary of their fundraising event, The DRIVE.

With toys in hand, he brought much needed smiles and brightened the day for patients and families. The hospital was revving with excitement as Kahne met with kids and teens in a race of their own – a race to feel better and get back to life outside the hospital walls. Read full post »

Russell Wilson: I Am All In

Russell Wilson visits patients and their families at Seattle Children's each Tuesday.

Russell Wilson visits patients and their families at Seattle Children’s each Tuesday.

Each Tuesday, the hospital is decked out in blue and the halls are buzzing with excitement as Russell Wilson stops by to visit with our patients. In this blog, Russell shares why he is so dedicated to supporting the families at Seattle Children’s. 

Sunday is game day for me, but my best day is Tuesday when I visit Seattle Children’s. All the amazing opportunities I’ve had on the field can’t compare to helping kids whose lives are on the line.

I started volunteering a couple of years ago. I’m humbled by the courage of the patients and families I meet and proud to witness the amazing work of the nurses and doctors who care for them.

Hospitals aren’t scary for me. I spent a lot of time visiting my dad in one before complications from diabetes took his life in 2010. He was only 55 years old. His experiences helped me better understand the unique challenges that hospitalized children and their families face. Their strength has been an inspiration to me. Read full post »

Electricity, Dishwashers and What Really Matters

Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader of Seattle Children's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program

Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program

This past week, my 10-year-old son was assigned a science experiment to conduct at home: exist for a full hour without electricity. During our family’s allotted hour, some things became incredibly difficult (imagine hand-washing dinner dishes in darkness). But the rest became wonderfully easy. With no way to do routine activities involving smartphones, TVs, computers, or other electronics, we just sat, talked and played board games by candlelight.

My son’s conclusion from this assignment? Without electricity, life is richer. He commented that he appreciated this opportunity to just be present and be together. “It’s different,” he explained. “In a weird way, electricity takes us away from each other. When you remove the electricity, you spend more time doing what’s important to you – what matters. You realize how lucky you are to have each other…and to have electricity the rest of the time.”

This was when my son’s simple assignment suddenly reminded me of what I see in and strive to teach our patients and families everyday. Read full post »