Cure Childhood Cancer

CURE Blog


September 14th, 2014

CURE Childhood Cancer Honors Will Wagner

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 14, 2014 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Will Wagner. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Will’s fundraising page. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.00.52 PMOn Saturday December 8, 2012, Will took the court for his first basketball game of the year. He played the majority of the game and, as always, had a blast doing it! “For the love of the game” defines Will!! His sister danced in the Statham Christmas parade later that afternoon and then that evening we took the “Christmas Card” picture that we would be sending out in a few short days… a normal busy Saturday as the holidays closed in. What was about to happen over the course of the next few days changed our lives.

Sunday December 9th. Will woke up with a headache and complaining of not “seeing” right. He took some Tylenol and seemed to feel fine. His headache came and went over the next two days. It never seemed that bad, something was just off. Wednesday evening (12-12-12) we took him to his pediatrician; his eyes were not functioning the way they should. The words “something is not right,” were said. Thank God for Dr. Aldridge, she caught a problem!!! After a cat scan at Athens Regional Medical, a “mass” was found. We had no idea what it was. She sent Will to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite in the middle of the night. By 9:00 am the morning of 12-13-12, he was in surgery to relieve pressure in his brain from a massive non-germinomatous germ cell tumor (NGGCT).  We took him to the doctor the night of December 12th, 2012 thinking he had a migraine…. yes a migraine. Little did we know what he had been going through. He never once complained.

He started Chemo the day after Christmas!! Over the course of the next eight months, Will had: six rounds of Chemo (24 days), 40 plus days in the hospital, countless fevers, pneumonia, allergic reactions, hair loss, weight loss, several MRI’s and lumbar punctures, 30 days of radiation, countless vomiting, blood clots, shots, a pharmacy at home, pokes, prods, missed school, missed friends, missed his brother and sister, good times and bad times.

Will is still not in school but hoping to return later this fall. Through everything, not once has he ever complained or asked why. He simply just asked what he needed to do to make it go away. Chemo took the tumor from the size of golf ball down to the size of a pinky nail. The prayer is that radiation killed the rest of it off. He is a very special young man whose destiny is written with greatness.

This is truly a journey. In journeys you meet people and they help to shape who you become and who you hope to be. We have met and leaned on so many great selfless people along this path. Scottish Rite Aflac Wing and Aflac Clinic have truly become an extension of our family. Thank you all!!

Will has been the strong one. Whenever we as parents have wanted to “lose it,” he has kept it together, which made us keep it together. All he wants to do now is help kids who are struggling, even though he still has his own struggles.

Screen-Shot-2012-09-07-at-1.56.52-PM27-150x1503Update: From September of 2013 until June of 2014, Will has been stable. He has had 3 MRI/LPs. No sign of Cancer!!!! He is cancer free at this point and is adjusting to getting life back to normal, with limitations. He is not allowed to play any sports that require a helmet, hard for a boy that loves football. So he stays busy helping his younger brother Zac on his Skills!! His next scan is September 2014.

God Bless You All!!!

Wagners


August 8th, 2014

When Children with Cancer Can’t Go to School

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.32.23 PMSchool– it’s a part of life most kids and families take for granted. Kids get on the bus, have classes during the day, do homework at night. But, what about children battling cancer, who are in the hospital for weeks, months, or more? How do they keep up with their education?

The School Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has that issue covered. Twelve Georgia certified teachers bring the classroom to sick children, in kindergarten through 12th grade. Six of those teachers are specifically funded by Aflac to assist the patients in the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Sometimes the students are well enough to visit the hospital classroom; sometimes the teacher takes the lesson to their room. These educators are trained to teach the children during treatment, as well as provide information to schools on their progress, and on special accommodations needed when those patients return to their schools. They are important liaisons between the families and the schools.

The teachers in the Aflac Cancer Center have an additional role, one they seem to cherish. They allow kids in the hospital long term, and their families, a sense of normalcy. The students are able to continue their education, and the parents get a sense of relief that their children aren’t falling behind in their studies. Teachers say their favorite part of the job is helping families whose world has been turned upside down keep the school piece “right side up.”

The teachers often say they “get” more than they “give” working with these kids, and many have stories that warm their hearts. Here are just a few.

“While teaching a bone marrow transplant patient, a hospital teacher used chart paper that stuck to the walls of his room. (BMT kids are in isolation and cannot come to the classroom.) He walked all around the room completing math problems on the chart paper. Afterwards, he wanted to leave the problems hanging on the wall so everyone could see. He also had his mom take a picture of him standing by his work to send his teacher. He was smiling so proudly in that picture!”  Whitney Morrison/Egelston Teacher

“We had a 5th grade brain tumor patient who loved doing school work even when she was sick in bed and could not come to the classroom. We always played ‘multiplication war’ at the end of each school session. This became our routine and for her it was motivation to see how many times she could get a higher score than the teacher.” Michele Britt/Scottish Rite Teacher

“We had a high school oncology patient who spent a great deal of time in our classroom. One day he was in the classroom while several very young students were there. He had completed his work and was waiting to be picked up by his grandmother. While he was waiting, he came over to the big white board in the classroom and participated in an activity with the little ones. They had so much fun, and so did he!  It was so cool to see this high school kid making the little ones smile! Another good day in the Egleston classroom!”
Uroni Macon/Egleston Teacher

Scottish Rite teacher Pamela Kinzly summed up the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta school experience. “For lots of kids, working on school work is a wonderful reminder that they are still part of their class at school and they will be back there again in the future. Overall, the kids we work with are still typical kids: they might be bald, connected to an IV pole, or sitting in a wheelchair, but laughter and learning are still readily available even in a hospital school classroom.”

 

EGAflacTeachers - Aug enewsEgleston Teachers
From left to right: Whitney Morrison, Uroni Macon, Kelli Vernay

SRAflacTeachers Aug enewsScottish Rite Teachers
From left to right: Pamela Kinzly, Hollie Schofield, Michele Britt


March 7th, 2011

Life on Purpose

Life on Purpose is a fun and creative networking experience for empowered women living a healthy, wealthy, rich life on purpose. Event is Saturday, March 19 from 10-5 and Sunday, March 20 from 10-4 at the Holiday Inn Capital Conference Center, Atlanta GA.

Event will feature powerful keynote speakers and life coaches discussing finances, friends, faith, family and friends. CURE Childhood Cancer Executive Director, Kristin Conner will be speaking during Sunday’s event. Social events include wine tasting, flash networking and live band. Gift bags and lunches provided.

All proceeds from the silent auction will benefit CURE Childhood Cancer. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to click here or contact April Cummings at 678-851-4992.


July 6th, 2010

From the Desk of Kristin Connor

In these complex economic times, it has become increasingly common that organizations cannot succeed alone, and many nonprofits are embracing the concept of collaboration for mutual benefits. Indeed, collaboration has become quite the buzzword in the nonprofit world as the economic crisis has gripped our country and resources to support charitable efforts have continued to shrink.

However, collaboration is nothing new to CURE Childhood Cancer. Maintaining collaborative partnerships with other organizations has been a longstanding practice for CURE. CURE was founded in 1975 by Dr. Abdel Ragab, the first pediatric oncologist at Emory University. Because of the urgent need to fund a pediatric oncology research program at Emory and to provide support for families afflicted by childhood cancer throughout Georgia, Dr. Ragab organized a group of parents who formed CURE.

CURE’s first mission was in partnership with Emory and was to help raise funds for a special microscope and other equipment to assist in diagnosing different types of childhood leukemia, using newly developed techniques. In 1978, CURE contributed $20,000 to purchase the microscope and related research equipment. Additionally, CURE was soon able to provide partial support for the training of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellows during their research rotations.

From 1975 to 1981, the childhood cancer research lab was located at Grady Hospital. Since most of Dr. Ragab’s patients were being treated at Emory Clinic, CURE provided a significant donation in 1981 to establish a research lab on the Emory campus. This was designed as a temporary facility while plans were made to build a permanent lab on the campus.

Finally in 1987, a new outpatient clinic for childhood cancer was opened on the campus. Over several years, CURE raised more than one million dollars to build and equip a laboratory on the second floor of the pediatric oncology clinic. The Childhood Cancer Research lab was dedicated in 1989 and represented a huge step forward in providing an up-to-date facility with almost 3,500 square feet of space devoted to research in childhood cancer, the first of its kind at Emory.

Under Dr. Ragab’s leadership and with CURE’s backing, the childhood cancer research program at Emory continued to grow and soon became one of the largest pediatric oncology programs in the country in terms of patients diagnosed and treated each year.

From those early days and continuing today, CURE has worked collaboratively  and cooperatively with the staffs at children’s hospitals in Georgia and beyond to provide important support to families. We also work with other wonderful organizations like Camp Sunshine, Ronald McDonald House and Remember the Rainbows, meeting regularly to discuss the activities of each organization, assess the needs of the children and families we serve and the collective resources available and determine collaborative means to address the needs.

We firmly believe that the more we are able to work together successfully, the more we will achieve our goals of helping families suffering at the hands of cancer navigate the difficult road they are traveling and the faster we will be able to achieve our mission of curing this dreaded disease. Every step in that direction counts.

With hope,

Kristin Connor


December 22nd, 2009

Kristin Connor Looks Back on Childhood Cancer Awarness Month

Before my own son was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, I had no idea Childhood Cancer Awareness Month existed much less that it took place in September. If I had known, would I have done anything to get involved or support the awareness efforts? I’m not proud to admit that I might not have. I suppose I never felt I needed to be concerned about childhood cancer. Afterall, childhood cancer is something that happens to “other people,” right?

Wrong.

Childhood cancer affects thousands of children every year. It happened to my child. It could happen to any child. I have heard cancer in children described as “rare.” From a statistical standpoint, particularly compared to incidence of cancer in adults, I know this is true. However, once it touches your life, whether directly or indirectly, I believe you are never the same.

For all of us at CURE, September was a profoundly inspiring month. For years, I have heard parents lament that next to no one knows what September signifies. Compare that to October when everything is pink and everyone knows it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The fact that these months are back to back and awareness levels are at opposite ends of the
spectrum leaves parents of children with cancer feeling disheartened.

We really wanted to do our part to change this, so this year we launched a new initiative called “CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One day At A Time.” Through this initiative, we tried to give families a vehicle through which to share the stories of their children with a large audience. We felt that sharing the stories of “our” children is the best way to raise awareness of the need for the fight against childhood cancer to be a priority in this country. From the feedback which has poured in, along with the astounding number of
people who donated to CURE’s research efforts in honor or memory of a specific child, we are certain we made headway.

From our perspective, September was a very, very meaningful month. We think people were made aware of the devastating impact cancer has on a child, his or her parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends and the larger community.

We think awareness was raised about the dire shortage of funding dedicated to research for cures for childhood cancer, no matter that cancer takes the lives of more young people today under the age of 20 than any other disease. People responded. You responded.

One of my favorite quotes is by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Particularly after witnessing the progress the CURE community made in the month of September, I believe!

With hope,
Kristin Connor


December 9th, 2009

Share Your Photos with CURE

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We believe this to be true.

CURE Childhood Cancer is currently seeking photographs of children with cancer, survivors or children who have been lost to cancer.  Siblings and/or other family members can also be included in the photographs.  We would like to be able to use these photos in our communication materials since “real” photos of children from our very own CURE community will best paint the picture of childhood cancer in an authentic light.

We welcome your photos for submission with your permission that they may be used for such things as brochures, emails, online or on our website. We cannot utilize photographs that are copyrighted, which includes Flashes of Hope photographs.

Thank you for sharing your children with us and allowing us to honor them and their journeys by utilizing their photos.

Please email all photos to kristin@curechildhoodcancer.org


December 7th, 2009

A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes

“It is a day I look forward to all year long,” a sentiment expressed by one honored mom but shared by many as they expressed their love and appreciation for the annual “A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes” luncheon, an event conceived of and hosted by Chris Glavine, wife of baseball superstar Tom Glavine.

The fifth annual luncheon was held on Saturday, September 19th and, by all accounts, continued the tradition of an elegant event packed full of inspiration and emotion. The luncheon is a very unique event that honors mothers of childhood cancer patients past and present. The mothers are hosted and presented with a beautiful luncheon, an inspiring speaker and a day to share their joys and their pains with the only people who truly understand them, their fellow moms.

CURE Childhood Cancer’s Executive director, Kristin Connor, explains that the event began and continues to be about a need that she, Chris Glavine and other committee members have to do something for the moms they love. “Almost selfishly, we need this day,” says Connor. “We need to have some way – however small – to show these moms that we care about what they’ve been through and continue to endure.”

“The Quiet Heroes luncheon is a very unique and special event,” explains hostess, Chris Glavine. “I believe the day remains in the hearts of those who attend. It is my hope that they will all be inspired to take a more active roll in the fight against childhood cancer.”

Ruth Hoffman, a Quiet Hero and Executive director of the National office of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the luncheon. Mrs. Hoffman discussed the need for more research and emphasized the need for less toxic treatments, citing her own daughter’s struggles as an adult survivor. As always, the talented and giving Jill Becker, also a Quiet Hero, emceed the event.

Even in a tough economy, this year’s event was an overwhelming success, raising $260,000 for childhood cancer research. “The fact that more than 550 people attended this luncheon on a busy Saturday in September and opened their hearts and their wallets to our cause proves that people really care,” remarks Connor. “It gives us so much hope.”

Below two Quiet Heroes share how much the luncheon means to them.

For me, Quiet Heroes is one of the most special days of the year. It is a day when I am recognized for the struggle I have weathered with my child and, especially during her treatments, it was the one day I stopped to let myself be cared for. As I enter the hotel, I see all of the silent auction items and I watch as people playfully fight over bids. It brings tears to my eyes because I know that every dollar they bid means more hope for our children. Seated in this beautiful room for lunch, surrounded by so many other mothers who have fought or are fighting similar battles with their children, I am home again. I am amazed by the number of people there, and again I am touched and thrilled, knowing that many of those people chose to pay for their seats – more hope for our children. As I look around me on that day, I know that every face there represents either a mom or family member of a child, or they chose to be there because they care about this battle our children are fighting. How precious all of those people are to me. This is a day filled with love ~ and so much hope. And I am so grateful for it.

~ Quiet Hero Lisa Hanger

The annual Quiet Heroes luncheon is an event like no other. It is truly hard to put into words what the day represents and means to so many of us. It is an experience of the truest of sisterhood and total acceptance. There is probably no other venue where you have something in common with every woman in the room that has on a name tag with the Quiet Heroes reference. There are emotions of every type expressed on the faces of these women. There are smiles of joy in seeing their fellow cancer moms and confirming that their child is still in survivor status. There are smiles of hope as they are telling that their children are bravely still fighting their battles. There are tears of deep loss but smiles of gratitude for those wanting to know how they are coping with their loss or wanting to learn about who their child was. The connections that are made are ties of a lifetime that bond these women together. As all of the Quiet Heroes are asked to stand each year, we do it with pride but with such sadness. As we look around the room and see all of the other mothers, our hearts are filled with love and admiration for each other but with such sadness for all of the children represented there. The Quiet Heroes luncheon is one of the greatest gifts that I have personally received since I started the cancer journey with my daughter. It is an event that I cherish and look forward to every year. I always leave with renewed hope and am re-energized for the task at hand.

~ Quiet Hero Cathy Smith

Watch for details about the sixth annual “A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes,”coming in September 2010.


November 16th, 2009

Elves From Catie

catieheart2-2For Jenny and Tré Wilkins, Christmas can be especially difficult. They lost their beautiful four-year-old daughter, Catie, nearly three years ago to cancer. If there is a glimmer of light in the midst of such loss, however, the Wilkins credit a mischievous elf for providing hope and honoring Catie’s legacy.

While Catie battled the ravages of cancer treatment during the holiday season, she took solace in the make-believe world of Santa’s elves. She was given a special stuffed elf from the company Host an Elf, and that beloved elf was “responsible” for all kinds of mischievous acts, such as covering the kitchen in flour, pulling clothes out of Catie’s dresser drawer, and even spending a night in the freezer because he was homesick for the North Pole.

“Catie’s elf provided a way for her to escape the reality of cancer and enjoy the magic of the holidays,” explains Jenny Wilkins. “We had so much fun with that elf. Every day, Catie woke up eager to find out what her ‘silly elf’ had done while she slept.”

But the whimsical fantasy of holiday elves was inexplicably replaced with the harshest of realities when Catie lost her courageous battle just weeks after Christmas.

Desperate to get through the first Christmas without Catie, her mom searched stores and the Internet for affordable elves to give to some of Catie’s friends who were still battling cancer. When she found the company which made Catie’s elf, she called, asking if they would consider giving her a bulk discount. After hearing Catie’s story, the owners of Host an Elf were so moved, the company decided to donate as many elves as the Wilkins needed – and then, they decided to take it a step further. The owners worked with Jenny to create a program called “Elves from Catie” which honors Catie by allowing others to purchase an elf for a child with cancer, with 30 percent of the proceeds going to CURE Childhood Cancer earmarked for pediatric cancer research.

“Far too many children will be spending the holidays in children’s hospitals receiving cancer treatment, and ‘Elves from Catie’ is a powerful way to share a special gift with them and make a significant contribution to fund a cure for childhood cancer,” says Kristin Connor, Executive Director of CURE Childhood Cancer.

For more information or to donate an elf to a child with cancer, visit www.elvesfromcatie.com.

 


October 13th, 2009

Make Your Purchases Count With Babble Baby Wear

We welcome business partnerships and appreciate companies that want to help support CURE Childhood Cancer. There are several organizations that are using their business to help raise money for CURE. Each business donates a portion of its proceeds to benefit CURE.

One of these businesses is Babble Babywear. Babble babywear™ is a dynamic, sassy new company designed to tell the world what babies are thinking through original sayings and fun graphics. These colorful onesies have been described as that “favorite t-shirt with minimal design and maximum impact but with great baby humor.” Show off your bundle of joy in baby gear with attitude or show up at the next baby shower with the gift that everyone will be talking about.

Visit www.babblebabywear.com to order and use code BABBLECCC and $1 will be donated to CURE Childhood Cancer for every onesie purchased.

For more information on these sponsors and products, click here.

For questions on how your business can get involved, please contact CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor at 770-986-0035 or kristin@curechildhoodcancer.org.


October 7th, 2009

Make Your Purchases Count

We welcome business partnerships and appreciate companies that want to help support CURE. There are several organizations that are using their business to help raise money for CURE. Each business donates a portion of its proceeds to benefit CURE. Below we have listed each business that is participating in raising money for CURE so that you can make sure your purchases count by buying products from the companies that support CURE.

Babble Babywear

Tripp Bowden’s Freddie and Me

Patrick’s Paperwhites

Press On Charm

Virginia Rice Designs: CURE Childhood Cancer Ribbon Earrings

Survivor Tees

Global Monkey

For more information on these sponsors and products, click here.

For questions on how your business can get involved, please contact CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor at 770-986-0035 or kristin@curechildhoodcancer.org.


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    BLUE RIDGE TURKEY TROT 5K

    Register now for the 5K Turkey Trot in downtown Blue Ridge, GA, with a portion of proceeds benefiting CURE. in its 5th year, the race takes place Thanksgiving morning. Click here for more information or to register.

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    UNIQUE GIFTS BENEFITING CURE

    Get your holiday shopping started early, while at the same time helping CURE! Shop the Whimsical Wares Art & Gift Show at the Paper Mill Village in Marietta, GA from November 12-16 with a portion of all proceeds benefiting CURE. Featuring more than 70 artist booths, shop a collection of unique jewelry, artwork, metalwork, woodwork, furniture, clothing, edibles, bath and body products, and more. Click here to learn more.