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CURE and the Handmade Home

Anyone who has a brother knows there is an ever-present threat of injury. The only questions are: how much will it hurt and will it force another trip to the emergency room. Jamin had many of those bumps and bruises growing up with his brother in Birmingham, and he inflicted a few of his own. During a particularly rough wrestling match in 1982, Jamin took a knee to the back that caused some discomfort. He didn’t think much of it until he noticed blood in his urine the next morning.

“You would think it would freak me out,” Jamin said. “But I was just a six-year-old kid… so I thought it was a pretty cool trick.”

When he shared his newfound ability with his mother, however, she raised the appropriate alarm. Jamin’s pediatrician was also concerned and immediately told them to go to the hospital. Doctors there discovered a large tumor on Jamin’s kidney. Both the tumor and the kidney were removed the next day and the ensuing pathology revealed it to be a Wilm’s tumor, the most common type of kidney cancer in children.

Wilm’s tumors often become quite large before they are noticed. So the blow from his brother likely hastened Jamin’s cancer diagnosis. At the time, Wilm’s tumors were being studied and treatments were rapidly evolving thanks to the work of Dr. Sidney Farber, founder of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and many other researchers. The cocktail of chemotherapy Jamin received in the early 1980’s, experimental at the time, is now the standard protocol for all kids with Wilm’s tumor, and survival rates have eclipsed 90%.

At the time, Jamin didn’t really think about what kind of chemo he was getting. He had some nausea and lost his hair, but it didn’t get him down. In fact, besides missing his friends sometimes, he was pretty happy to have excused absences from school and loved all of the presents he received.

“I really don’t remember feeling isolated although I’m sure I was at times,” he recalled. “As I got older, I began to understand what happened and the potential side effects. But I’ve had no problems at all.”

After receiving his degree at Auburn University, Jamin became a youth pastor. He and his wife, Ashley, now have three children and live in the Nashville area.  Ashley began looking for an outlet for her creativity, so she started writing about home design and renovation. In 2014, Jasmin and Ashley launched a full-time business, The Handmade Home. Together they create designs all over the country, work with brands, and offer tips and advice to those looking to improve their home. Their mantra is to stop pining away for the perfect home and make the house you live in one you love.

We met Jamin and Ashley when they entered the Frogtape Design Challenge and chose CURE as their charity of choice. While CURE didn’t win the contest prize, we gained something much more valuable – new friends!  We are grateful for Jamin and Ashley’s desire to help children fighting cancer so that one day, every child diagnosed will be able to live their dreams… just like Jamin has.

Cheering for Lauren

When Lauren was only two years old, her parents noticed a lump in her abdomen and got the worst news imaginable. Their happy, beautiful baby was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a pediatric cancer of the nervous system. They immediately entered a world of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and too many side effects to mention. But after several months, Lauren’s tumor shrunk, and she was declared cancer-free.

When her health improved, Lauren dreamed of being a cheerleader. She joined a competitive squad and even made her school team. She loved every practice, meet, and football game and she worked very hard to be her best. At 15 she was primed for high school cheering until she began experiencing hip and leg pain that sidelined her. Being so active, a doctor suggested that she had arthritis in her hips so her first attempt at recovery was physical therapy.

The PT actually helped for a time; but the pain came back. In February 2017, an MRI revealed new lesions and she discovered that once again, neuroblastoma had invaded her body. In all, the imaging indicated 28 spots that were likely active tumors.

The first four cycles of chemotherapy stabilized the tumor but didn’t shrink it. She moved on to immunotherapy which is supposed to attack just the offending cells and leave healthy cells undamaged. She spent alternating weeks in the hospital for over a year. That treatment failed also.

Her next treatment consisted of a targeted radiation called MIBG therapy.

“MIBG made me very sick and uncomfortable,” Lauren recalled. “I had to stay by myself in a room with lead walls to contain the radiation. Even when I got out I couldn’t be around people for two weeks so I wouldn’t expose them. We thought I might glow in the dark, but I never did.”

After the treatment, Lauren’s follow-up MRI showed 18 spots remaining. That was a good reduction, but not enough. Her doctor recommended that she undergo MIBG again. But remembering the side effects she had the first time, Lauren didn’t want to do it until her mother talked her into it. The second round took her disease burden down to 14 spots and she cannot do radiation again because she has already received her lifetime maximum dosage.

She and her doctors are now looking for other options to finish the cancer for good. In the mean-time, Lauren has been pain-free since March and her energy levels have returned to normal. She has a positive and hopeful attitude. She loves school and hopes to become a dermatologist when she grows up.

“I spent my Sweet 16 getting scans and the nurses and child life specialists threw me a party,” Lauren laughed. “I appreciated it so much. But even better, we found out that the new treatment was working! The disease in my bone marrow was lessening, and the tumors were shrinking! My hair is growing back! My cancer journey has made me realize that you have to live life to the fullest and never give up!”

CURE invests $4 million annually at leading pediatric research centers with one goal in mind: safer and more effective cures for childhood cancer that will allow children like Lauren the opportunity to live full lives and reach for their dreams. See how you can join us by visiting our website at www.curechildhoodcancer.org.

Transition: How to Successfully Journey Forward

by Elizabeth Record DNP, Mary Batcha RN, and Lillian Meacham MD

 

Childhood cancer survivors are challenged with many transitions of care in their journey after a cancer diagnosis. First, they transition from a healthy child to a child with a cancer diagnosis. Then they move from a child with cancer on treatment to a childhood cancer survivor who has completed treatment. And finally, they transition from a childhood cancer survivor to an adult survivor of childhood cancer. One of the most challenging transitions for many childhood cancer survivors and their families is the transition from pediatrics to adult based health care. For some survivors, this transition is due to an upper age limit at a pediatric healthcare system, and for others it is due to a geographic relocation for college studies or a first job. It is essential for survivors to prepare to journey forward as young adults who can navigate the adult health care arena.

Below are some suggested strategies to ensure successful transition:

1. Start early to prepare for this very important transition. Survivors should talk to their pediatrician and their pediatric survivor team. Planning ahead of time, communicating with the current and future healthcare teams, and advocating for their healthcare needs are all very important initial steps.

2. All survivors should have a summary of the treatment they received. This is typically called a Survivor Healthcare Plan (SHP). This is an important tool as it will outline the potential late effects associated with the individual treatment. It will also have a summary of past testing that has been done and suggest recommended future testing to assess any late effects that may occur as an adult.

3. It is important for each survivor to have an understanding of the contents of their SHP as each survivor will be the person who advocates for their health and schedules the suggested testing.

4. Survivors should identify and establish care with an adult healthcare provider for general healthcare needs or concerns. Additionally, survivors should share their SHP with the identified adult healthcare provider.

5. If available, survivors should identify an adult survivor clinic that is familiar with the Children’s Oncology Group Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines, (which can be found at www. childrensoncologygroup.org). This will assure they are updated periodically on any changes that may alter their SHP. Many adult healthcare providers are reluctant to provide care for cancer survivors as they are not familiar with the recommended guidelines. The Young Adult Survivor Clinic at the Emory Winship Cancer Center is a local survivor clinic focused on long term survivorship care.

6. Maintain insurance benefits. Most survivors can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. However, if that is not possible, it would be important for each survivor to reach out to their social worker or a financial counselor who may be able to assist them as they strive to obtain insurance benefits.

7. Register for Cancer Survivor Link. This is a password protected, secure, patient-controlled website designed for survivors and providers that will allow each survivor to learn about survivorship, share their personal health information with each of their healthcare providers, and store their Survivor Healthcare Plan. Registration is available at www.cancersurvivorlink.org.

In Atlanta, patients under 21 years of age can be seen in the Aflac Cancer Survivor Clinic (404-785-1717). At age 21, patients are transitioned to the Young Adult Survivor Program at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory. The contact for this program at Winship is Mary Batch RN (404-778-3473) or mary.m.batcha@emoryhealthcare.org.

 

 

Wrestling with Emotions – Offloading Hurt

by Carleen Newsome, LPC, CPCS, ACS

Emotions are designed to inform us about what is happening in the world around us. However, in the midst of our grief, emotions can be so overwhelming that we try to run from them. Instead of recognizing our emotions, we adopt ways to cope which can prolong our suffering.
Hurt doesn’t go away simply because we don’t acknowledge it. In fact, if left unchecked, our emotions can fester, grow, and lead to behaviors that are not in line with who we want to be. These behaviors are ineffective and usually end up sabotaging many areas of our life, ruining relationships, and harming careers.

Resorting to ineffective strategies of dealing with emotions is called “offloading.” Below are six common strategies for offloading hurt:

Chandeliering: This strategy is when we try to stuff the hurt so far down that we believe we have escaped the pain. What actually ends up happening is that we have tender trigger points. When these trigger points are touched we react in an out of proportion way. A small thing like spilling our coffee may cause us to lose control and cry for hours.

Bouncing Hurt: Bouncing hurt is when emotions become unbearable and we place that hurt on someone or something else. For example, we may be having a hard day fighting off grief and instead of acknowledging it, we end up yelling at our spouse for not taking out the trash or grounding our kids for not finishing their dinner.

Numbing: Numbing is when we take the edge off pain with whatever we can find that will bring the quickest relief. It may be food, alcohol, drugs, TV, money, or caretaking. The problem is that we cannot selectively numb emotions. If we numb one, we numb them all. We may numb the grief, but we also numb the joy and happiness.

Stockpiling: Stockpiling begins like chandeliering where we pack the hurt away. We become so good at packing down the pain that we begin to amass more and more hurt. Without another outlet for our emotions, our body takes the brunt and may begin to develop many different health problems.

High-Centered: This strategy makes us feel stuck, powerless, and indecisive. We are afraid to allow emotion because we feel we may experience a floodgate of emotion and lose control. We are afraid that we may cry at work, in the grocery store, at a graduation, or around friends or family. We want to feel but we are afraid to allow emotions.

The Umbridge: We attempt to deal with hurt and grief by pretending. We become overly accommodating and people-pleasing. It feels and looks like a mask but is inconsistent with what we feel inside. It harms us and drives a wedge between us and others because it hides our true self within relationships.

Most employ these strategies at various times to survive and cope through difficult periods. But if you still find yourself using these strategies six months to a year after your loss or traumatic experience, it may be time to talk to a counselor so you can learn the steps to release you from added suffering.

 

But What Can I Do?

The question, “what can I do?” often plagues us when a friend or family member is hurting. We want to help, but the problem sometimes seems too overwhelming. Unable to figure out how to help, many well-meaning people often do nothing. But not Tom Jones. He figured out what he could do when cancer struck someone he cared about.

The Austin Taylor Challenge is an ultra-marathon benefiting CURE which was founded in memory of a little boy, Austin Taylor, who passed away in 2014 after a courageous battle with neuroblastoma. Tom participated in the 2017 Austin Taylor Challenge and reached out following the race.

He wrote: I completed the 50k yesterday to honor a 12-year-old boy named Collin who had his foot amputated as a result of a rare form of cancer called epithelioid sarcoma. He has been fitted with a prosthetic and is doing well and is quite active. He has been through chemo and has lost all his hair but has a very positive attitude. I hope to meet him for the first time soon and present him with the finishers medal and hat and shirt from Austin’s race.

I was very moved by Austin’s story and understand the accomplishment of fellow-ultramarathoner, Joe Urban, in completing the Leadville 100 to honor Austin. I find it unbelievable that he could finish that race! I am sure Austin had inspired him so he was up to the impossible task! What an incredible young man! I know he made you very proud.

Moved by his note, we caught up with Tom and found him more unassuming and humble than would befit his accomplishments. It all started in 2009 when his pastor was facing liver cancer for the third time. They had run together in several local races, and Tom got the idea to run the Augusta half-marathon in honor of his pastor. He didn’t know how much it would mean until he gave the medal, race t-shirt, and a note of encouragement to his friend.

“His reaction was more than what we had expected,” Tom said.

From that experience, a ministry was born. Over time, Tom’s distances increased from half-marathons to full marathons, and then eventually he began running ultras. He runs about forty miles in a typical week unless he is building up to a long race. While he is training, he focuses on the beauty of nature and the one for whom he is running.

“Running to me is a celebration of life, and now a way to honor others,” explained Tom. “When I find someone who is hurting or struggling with a medical issue, my goal is to lift them up and also encourage their families during whatever journey they are on.”

Typically, Tom selects someone from the prayer list of his church in Evan, GA as his inspiration. But this year, a co-worker who knows Collin’s family asked if he would consider running for the boy. Tom was quick to agree. He had his own brush with childhood cancer. Tom and his wife, Karen, have six daughters. His now 18-year-old old daughter, Hannah, had her thyroid removed because it was cancerous.

“We have experienced the dreaded diagnosis of cancer in a child,” he relayed. “That makes me thankful for The Austin Taylor Challenge – a great race for a great cause. I’m also thankful for CURE Childhood Cancer and their efforts to rid so many young people of this horrible disease!”

Tom is an inspiration to all of us who struggle to put action to our compassion. He is making a huge difference in the lives of others by doing something he loves.

“If I can put a smile on someone’s face just because I ran a race for them, then it is totally worth the effort.”

 

 

Getting Jaden Back in the Game

Like many people in the south, Jaden and his entire family suffer from seasonal allergies. An early pollen season in 2017 aggravated his allergies, so his mother, Vicki, got Jaden some over the counter medication to help. The medication soothed Jaden’s cough for a period of time, but after a few days, it came back with a vengeance. Vicki took Jaden to his pediatrician’s after-hours clinic where the doctor gave him a breathing treatment because he had so little air movement in his left lung. When that didn’t help, the doctor sent him to the emergency room for an x-ray to check for pneumonia or a blood clot.

“Jaden was moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after his x-ray and CT scan,” Vicki recalled. “They wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, only that he was a very sick boy.”

After a long, frustrating wait, the doctor finally told Vicki that Jaden had leukemia.  The doctor would have to operate immediately to insert a chest tube into Jaden’s lung and take a biopsy to determine the specific type of leukemia.

This was not Jaden’s first run-in with cancer. A friend in pre-k named Evan had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and tragically, died after a year of treatment. Since that time, Jaden and his family have been fundraising and started Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Gold-Out games at the high school where Jaden’s brother played football. When he heard he had cancer, Jaden began to mentally process what that might mean.

“Dr. Johnson was great about it,” said Vicki. “He talked to Jaden on his level and explained that leukemias can be very different – that it wasn’t even apples and oranges, it was more like apples and watermelons. He really helped Jaden understand that his cancer and Evan’s were different. That calmed Jaden down.”

Jaden began chemo the same day as his surgery. The mass was so large that it had collapsed his lung. Fortunately, the chest tube gave him immediate relief and his breathing improved.

After a year of treatment, Jaden has two years left to go. His latest bone marrow scan revealed that he has less than .01% leukemia cells in his marrow. He will continue treatment until there is absolutely no trace of leukemia.

Right now, he is on the sidelines, but Jaden is looking forward to playing basketball and football again.

“Cancer has changed him,” Vicki said. “He has always been reserved, and the cancer drove him to be even quieter. He is finally starting to come back out of his shell, and he has decided that he wants to use his story to make a difference.”

Jaden and his family participated in CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time last year during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, sharing his story and raising money to fight back.  Jaden also helped with a Gold Out game at Richmond Hill High School and led the team onto the field.

“Cancer can hit anyone, so we feel that it is important for us to do our part to find a cure,” Vicki insisted. “Like I always say: I wasn’t a cancer mom until the day I was one.”

 

Participation in CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time is a great way to share your child’s cancer story with the community and join us in fighting childhood cancer. For more information about this wonderful program, please contact Lisa Branch at lisa@curechildhoodcancer.org.

 

 

 

 

Life in the Key of Astonishing

It is quite an honor for a student to be accepted into the Governor’s Honors Program (or GHP) in Georgia. The GHP is a four-week, summer educational program designed for intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students. Rising juniors and seniors are nominated by their teachers and are screened through a rigorous round of essays, auditions, and interviews. The overall acceptance rate of the program is around 3%.

Those who know Loren Bass-Sanford and have heard her play probably were not surprised when they learned of her acceptance into the GHP as a jazz pianist. What might surprise them are the obstacles she overcame to get to there.

A persistent cough and what seemed to be regular cold symptoms escalated until she stopped walking and talking. Just before her third birthday, she became so weak that she could only lay in bed staring blankly at the ceiling. Her mother’s intuition drove them to the hospital where Loren needed a blood transfusion to make it through the night and was soon diagnosed with leukemia.

“I have some vivid memories of life during treatment,” Loren said. “Once when I was in pre-k, one of my little friends asked me about the bump in my chest. I tried to explain about the port, but I’m sure she didn’t understand.”

The standard treatment for pediatric leukemia lasts between two and three years for most children. Loren was cancer-free and considered a survivor at five. When she was ten, a long, six-hour appointment marked the end of her five-year remission period. She will continue to go to survivor’s visits every year until she reaches the age of 21.

One of the chemotherapies administered to Loren during her treatment was vincristine, which can cause numbness, tingling, and fine motor skill issues in the hands and feet. Sometimes, these side effects occur during treatment and sometimes they appear long treatment is complete. When Loren began experiencing such issues in her hands, she turned to the piano as a form of therapy. Her aptitude quickly revealed itself and the level at which she can now play is truly astonishing when the side effects she deals with are taken into consideration!

Loren is often complimented on her talent. Humbly she replied, “I just love playing piano. It was an honor to be at GHP; I learned so much.”

This rising senior at Lovett School doesn’t take her health for granted. She is on the Student Service Board and has joined the fight against the childhood cancer. Last year, she led an effort for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year project. This year, she is leading Lovett’s Gold Out game during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“Lovett has a long history of partnering with CURE in fight against childhood cancer and it is incredibly special to have a childhood cancer survivor lead the charge this year,” said CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor.

 

In addition to the Lovett School, many high schools are holding Gold Out games in September.  If you’d like to host a gold out game at your school, visit www.gogold4CURE.com where you can download everything you need to plan your event.  If you have any questions, please contact Mark Myers at mark@curechildhoodcancer.org.

The Taste of Success

When CURE’s good friend and long-time partner, the St. Regis Atlanta, shared with us a concept for a new culinary event in Atlanta called Out of the Kitchen, we were immediately excited. The enthusiasm of General Manager, Guntram Merl, who had started Out of the Kitchen charity events at other properties he has managed, was contagious.

“Honestly, the over-the-top, elaborate idea was unlike anything offered in Atlanta,” recalled Lauren Sims, CURE’s Director of Development. “I thought Guntram had an incredible concept, and we were thrilled to be chosen as the charity partner. During the planning of the event ,we watched in amazement as the best chefs in the city jumped right in.”

The inaugural event took place on November 16, 2017. The beautiful St. Regis ballroom was transformed into sixteen intimate tables with seats surrounding a food preparation area. Each table had its own chef who created a unique menu just for the event. During the night, these chefs prepared food in front of the guests, talked and laughed with them, explained techniques, and shared culinary secrets. To walk the floor was to stroll from country to country as the smells of cuisine from Italy, France, Greece, Thailand, and many others wafted in the aisles.

And if the smells and tastes weren’t enough, after the dinner a spontaneous auction erupted. Local foodie legend, Steak Shapiro served as the master of ceremonies as the chefs offered extraordinary, personal culinary experiences for the top bidders. The room roared with laughter when Chef Kevin Rathbun took over the host duties and handled the microphone nearly as well as he handles a knife. Every guest raved about the evening, and CURE was thrilled to be a part of it. All told, the night raised $225,000 and left our hearts as full as our stomachs.

“The incredible generosity of time and passion from our Atlanta Chef’s community makes an event like Out of the Kitchen possible,” said Guntram. “Partner this with the truly amazing organization that CURE is… what a ‘recipe’ for a truly remarkable evening. The St Regis Atlanta is so grateful for being able to bring this to our community and we hope that this will become the marque culinary event for years to come.”

Thank you to the St. Regis Atlanta, Steak Shapiro, and all of the incredible chefs who donated their time and talent to benefit our mission to find a cure for childhood cancer. Out of the Kitchen 2018 will take place November 15. After the success of the inaugural event, we know it won’t take four weeks to sell out this time.

 

Acquiring Targets in the Fight Against AML

A childhood cancer diagnosis can turn complete strangers into intimate friends very quickly. Because each type of cancer is unique, parents tend to fragment by diagnosis to share knowledge, side-effect remedies, and treatment options. Three Atlanta families met that way; while their children were all fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Those beautiful children – Lake, Mary Elizabeth, and Melissa – fought bravely but ultimately succumbed to the disease. The bonds built by their families during treatment didn’t break after their deaths. They strengthened.

Together they formed a Named Fund at CURE called United for a CURE. They decided to work together in honor of their children with a vow to never stop fighting until there is a cure for children battling AML. Since then, they’ve worked tirelessly, and thanks to the support of friends, family, and colleagues they have raised over $350,000 in just two years. With that sum, they chose to support a project called Target Pediatric AML.

“We chose Target Pediatric AML because leading researchers agree that this project has the highest potential for a cure in the next five years,” said Joe Depa, Melissa’s father. “All children fighting AML have their tumor samples banked, and when we spoke with the project’s lead researcher, Dr. Soheil Meshinchi, he become emotional as he connected the samples he was studying with our families and our children. We could feel his passion immediately.”

Target Pediatric AML aims to facilitate genomic sequencing for every child fighting AML, searching for unique identifiers and vulnerabilities of the disease in young patients. Once these factors are identified, the hope is that the information will allow existing agents to be delivered in the right combination to effectively treat children fighting the disease. This knowledge will enable expansion of the treatment toolkit and jumpstart more informed, individualized therapy.

The project has already had some key wins:

  • The project has created the world’s largest database of genetic data for pediatric cancer patients. The team has provided genetic sequencing (mRNA) for more than 1200 AML patients.
  • A new therapeutic target has been identified and funding has been secured for clinical trial. Mesothelin was identified as a therapeutic target in AML. Typically found in lung cancer patients, genetic profiling revealed this protein in AML patients, as well. Bayer Pharmaceuticals has an anti-mesothelin drug for lung cancer and has agreed to participate in a clinical trial in 2018 to test its effectiveness against pediatric AML.
  • Additional targets are under development. Based on the RNA sequencing, over 100 potential targets have been identified and are undergoing verification for therapeutic development.
  • The information and database is shared publicly. All health institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and researchers can access and leverage the genetic data acquired with the hopes that collaboration will lead to provide more targeted therapies.

The underlying fact is that all children are unique and their cancers are also very different. If we can find common targets in the genomic make-up of AML, we might be able to fight these targets with existing therapies or therapy combinations.

“There are many different subtypes of AML,” explained Joe. “In fact, each of our three children had a completely different type. And yet, today’s treatments are basically the same for every subtype. This project is searching for individual therapies for every child to improve their survival rate. It’s too late for Lake, Mary Elizabeth, and Melissa. But we hope someday their names are attached to a cure for AML so that other families win their fight. We owe them that much.”

To learn more about the United for a CURE Fund, please click here:

 

 

 

A Survivor’s To-Do List

It is important that childhood cancer survivors focus on staying healthy after cancer. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  1. Make your appointment to visit a cancer survivor clinic. Survivor visits begin when you are two years past the completion of cancer treatments. If you have reached this milestone, talk to your oncologist about a referral to your hospital’s survivor program. In the cancer survivor clinic, you will be educated about your risk for any late effects which might be side effects from your cancer treatment. You will also be checked for those side effects through labs or screening tests. You may see an oncologist, an endocrinologist, a pediatric psychologist, and a social worker. The number of providers you see is based on your health needs. If you already attend survivor clinic, be sure to make your appointment for 2018.
  2.  Find and review your survivor healthcare plan. If you have already been to survivor clinic, review the survivor healthcare plan you received in clinic. The survivor healthcare plan will outline the cancer treatments you received, the late affects you are at risk to develop, and how the survivor team plans to check you for any late effects. If you have any questions about what you find in your survivor healthcare plan, jot them down and bring them to clinic with you. If you have been treated in Atlanta and can’t find your survivor healthcare plan, check Cancer Survivor Link online! When you register for Survivor Link at cancersurvivorlink.org, each year when you come to the survivor clinic, the team will upload the newest version of your survivor healthcare plan to your electronic record.
  3. Learn a new self-management health skill. If you are an adolescent or young adult, work on a new survivor skill. A parent of a younger survivor could help him or her choose and develop a skill. This could be the survivor calling to make the clinic appointment, making the co-pay at the time of the appointment, or downloading the survivor healthcare plan from SurvivorLink. You may choose to know the names and doses of your medications or call in the refills this year. There are many skills that need to be learned, but if you learn them one at a time you will have them all down in no time.
  4. Be sure to keep seeing your primary care provider for normal child and adolescent medical care and visit your dentist twice a year. Sometimes there are so many specialty doctor’s visits, it is hard to fit in the “normal” visits, but they are important too. You want to keep your primary care physician up-to-date on your health so he or she can take care of your routine medical needs. Also, don’t forget to get your teeth cleaned and eyes checked.

There are several skills a young survivor needs to learn to maintain health. By working to master one or more of these skills in the coming year, you will be setting yourself on the right path to a healthy life after cancer.