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Resources in Survivorship

Survival rates for children and teens diagnosed with cancer have greatly improved thanks to better treatments. Although cured of cancer, many survivors are at risk for health problems after treatment, called late effects. As a survivor, it is important that you receive regular follow-up with a survivor clinic to be screened for any health problems in order to address and treat late effects before they become serious.

Survivorship care is not only focused on medical follow-up. Cancer treatment can impact survivors in many different ways including school performance, job training and social and psychological well-being. This is why survivor clinics have psychologists and social workers available to address social and emotional challenges after treatment. There are also other services and resources that may be helpful to you as a survivor. Ask your survivor providers for more information about the following services:

  1. Psychologists who are familiar with childhood cancer survivors can help you with a variety of emotional and mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
  2. School coordinators – School and learning are important parts of childhood. There are many resources available to help survivors who may be experiencing difficulties with school. Psychologists and School coordinators help families navigate the school system.
  3. Vocation rehabilitation programs help people with disabilities to become fully productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment. Young adult survivors may benefit from vocational rehab services.
  4. Social workers & financial counselors can assist families with questions about insurance, medical related finances as well as planning for successful transition to adulthood.
  5. Support organizations – There are local and national organizations where survivors can access education, receive support services or connect with other survivor families. CURE Childhood Cancer, National Childhood Cancer Society, and Camp Sunshine all provide services which are available for survivors.
  6. Physical therapists & nutritionists – Eating well and getting exercise can help survivors stay healthy. Physical therapists can help improve physical function and healthy exercise programs for survivors. Nutritionists and the Strong4Life program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offer resources for families to stay active and choose healthy lifestyle habits.
  7. Cancer SurvivorLink is a website created for survivors to learn about healthcare after cancer treatment, store important health documents and share this health information with their many doctors. SurvivorLink can help you advocate for your survivor care with other healthcare providers you may see, like primary care doctors or specialists

Our goal in survivorship is to help you lead healthy and productive lives. We can do this through screening for late effects of cancer treatment and by linking you to resources for non-medical challenges after cancer treatment.



Brooke Cherven, MPH, RN, CPON and Lillian Meacham, MD

The Falcons Rise Up for a Fan Fighting Cancer

Rise Up!

If you were anywhere near Atlanta last weekend, you heard the words “Rise Up” over and over. The call was everywhere, along with their signature red and black.

“Rise Up, Falcons. Rise Up.”

By winning their division, the Atlanta Falcons earned a bye and week off. While the other NFC teams battled to keep playing, the Falcons planned, schemed, and prepared to Rise Up on the field. But this team did something greater. This week, the Falcons Rose Up for a young fan battling much more than football – he’s fighting cancer.

Kyle is ten years-old and lives in nearby Lilburn, Georgia. In June, his world was turned upside-down when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of pediatric bone cancer. Kyle’s attitude has been completely positive through all of the needle pokes, nausea, and mouth sores that come with his chemotherapy. Throughout it all, he has tried to make others laugh, stay strong, and be a good role model through all of his pain. That can be a tall task for a grown man, much less a kid. And trying to be so strong added extra pressure to his already tough situation. It has been a hard six months of treatment.

And then a special call came asking him if he wanted to be an honorary captain for the Falcons.

“When they told us what he was picked to do, he was in the hospital for treatment and he yelled for joy!” said his mother, Dee. “He spent the next week and a half preparing – reading up on stats and viewing old game footage. Kyle was so excited.”

Kyle was excited when he arrived at the dome and was treated as a VIP. He was thrilled to be on the sideline and he couldn’t keep from bouncing up and down. He had a fantastic time meeting different people and seeing how everything worked. And then the players came to meet him.

First came defensive tackle, Courtney Upshaw, who handed him a pair of gloves that he immediately put on. Then wide receiver, Eric Weems came over and gave him one of the practice balls. He met cheerleaders and head coach, Dan Quinn. As the time for the coin toss drew near, many other players said hello, slapped him on the back, and high-fived him.



When he began walking to the fifty yard-line as honorary captain, Weems caught him and said, “You know we’re brothers right? If anyone asks, you tell them we’re brothers.”

The Falcons went on to win an exciting game and Kyle had an incredible experience. Looking back over all of it, that one little comment from Weems meant the world to Kyle. He talked about it all night. It made him feel immediately connected and like someone had his back. When he got home, he did some reading about Weems and found he had a word that Kyle is going to use now: Determination.

“I’m going to be determined to do by best, be kind, and achieve my goals,” Kyle said. “That means I’ll never give up. Eric wouldn’t have gotten so good if he had given up when things got tough so I won’t give up when physical therapy is tough. I want to be strong like Eric!”


Well done, Falcons. You truly did Rise Up – not only on the field, but in the life of a special young cancer fighter!


Six Ways to Make This Your Best Year Ever

1 Learn from your mistakes

Did last year disappoint? Were there some failures and mistakes along the way? The dawn of the new year is the perfect time to put those behind you and look forward. Treat past failures as opportunities to learn. Forgive yourself and start this year with a clean slate.


2 Dream big and create manageable goals

Take some time to think about where you want to go and set some goals that will lead you in that direction. Success Coach, Michael Hyatt, suggests setting five to seven specific goals from different areas of your life. That might seem ambitious, but casting a vision for the future and planning tangible steps toward it will be a giant leap to creating the future that you desire.


“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

– Yogi Berra




3 Add one thing that scares you to your list

Stepping out of your comfort zone can teach you a great deal about yourself. At least one of your goals should be a stretch that intimidates you to some degree. If you don’t challenge yourself this year, when will you? In his book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg said, “Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone will kill us.”


4 Connect

Make it a point to develop new friendships and deepen the relationships you have. This will require intentionality on your part, but the rewards can be endless. Not only does being in relationship with others make us happier, research tells us that friendships make us healthier and help us to live longer, as well. As a side benefit, remember those goals you set? Your new friends will hold you accountable and do whatever they can to help you achieve them.


5 Find Perspective

Everyone goes through hard times and last year might have been a difficult one. The new year is a good time to focus on the positive things our lives, even if you have to dig to find them. We all need to consider how fortunate we truly are. In fact, since you are reading this online, you are already better off than half of the world’s population. If you own a car, you are in the top 10% of wage-earners in the world. Of course, wealth doesn’t automatically create happiness, but if we try, we can all find blessings to count. The key is taking time to look around. 

“In a rapidly ascending balloon were two men. One watched the earth getting farther and farther away. One watched the stars getting nearer and nearer.”

-George Jean Nathan



6 Engage in at least one activity that helps others

There is growing evidence that volunteering can help counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. Additionally, it can combat depression and make you happier. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others – the more we give, the happier we feel because doing something for others gives us a sense of purpose. With that in mind, this last action could be the most important springboard to making this the best year ever because the resultant frame of mind will go a long way to helping you accomplish the other five. This year, find your place of service to others.


Best wishes for 2018. May it truly be your best year ever!


The Gifts You Gave

Throughout the holiday season, our hearts were moved by the generosity of our friends and supporters. We wanted to give you a glimpse of the joy your gifts provided to families fighting childhood cancer.


Through CURE’s Holiday Angels program, you provided holiday gifts to 95 families who are not only battling childhood cancer in a medical fight, they are squared up against it financially as well. That means that 267 children and teens who would not have had gifts this holiday got them because of you. When their parents came into the CURE office and saw your gifts, they almost always welled up with tears. Their gratitude was palpable.


You allowed us to entertain 106 families at our holiday parties in Atlanta and Savannah, which gave children and families a festive break from the worries of treatment.


You provided food for 780 hospitalized families throughout the month of December through our Open Arms Meal Program. Additionally, CURE was able to serve special holiday meals to 65 hospitalized children, family members and hospital staff on Thanksgiving Day and another 65 hospitalized families in on Christmas Eve. Special thanks to those who took time from their holidays to serve and to Whole Foods Briarcliff, Copelands of New Orleans, and Church’s Chicken which provided these traditional holiday meals.



You decorated 430 mailboxes with CURE red ribbons to raise money and share our cause with neighbors driving past.


And you gave. We are thankful for every gift – whether big or small – because each one tells us that you believe in what we are doing for children fighting cancer.


The holiday spirit shone brightly here at CURE because of you. We are grateful!


Roll Tide to a CURE

At CURE, we aren’t fans of any particular football team. But we are big fans of the children’s book, Roll Tide Roll! because its author has a heart as big as her elephant characters. The beautifully illustrated story follows a typical game day on the Tuscaloosa campus and these elephants have a special purpose. Not only are they cheering on their team to victory, they are also hoping to cure childhood cancer.

This is Emily Gaddy’s second book. Her first, entitled Go Bulldogs!, is about her alma mater, the University of Georgia. She chose Alabama this time because of a local boy named Eli. In March of 2015, Eli was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma at the age of thirteen and is in a trial drug treatment and thankfully, his latest scan results were very encouraging.

Eli is a big Alabama Crimson Tide fan, so Emily decided to write about his favorite team. While she knew all about the Bulldogs from her own college experience, she had to draw heavily on Eli and his family to develop her Alabama story. Taking it a step further, Eli’s likeness and that of his family and friends are drawn into the story and she is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of Roll Tide Roll! to CURE Childhood Cancer in his honor.

If you are an Alabama fan, you NEED this book and when you buy it, know that you are helping CURE to find safer and more effective cures for childhood cancer. Whoever you are cheering for in this week’s National Championship game, this is a bandwagon we all need to jump on.

Thank you, Emily for joining us in the battle against childhood cancer.

Roll Tide Roll! from Mascot Books is available from Emily’s website, www.emilygaddy.com,

When Football is Normal

What do we want for our children?

Some would say an education, a better life, or an opportunity to succeed. Of course, we want all them to grow up healthy, smart, and strong of character. Most parents who have guided their children through cancer treatments would agree that they just want their child to be normal – to have the chance to blend in and experience being the kid they are supposed to be.

What happens when normal is football? Can a child who has gone through cancer treatment ever hope to play football again, much less play at a high level?

Meet Zachery Carruth.

Zachery was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at eleven years-old. The tumor was attached to a bone in his foot. He had to endure eight surgeries and learn to walk all over again. All he wanted was to be normal and for Zachery, football was normal.

He had to sit on the sidelines for two years and watch his friends play. Often he would stand leaning on crutches because he couldn’t stand to be still. The watching and waiting was torture. When he felt strong enough to get back on the field, one doctor told them he couldn’t do it – that he would never play again because his bones were compromised. In fact, he was told that to be on the field would be like playing on crackers and something inside him would eventually crumble. But they also had one doctor who knew of his burning desire to play and told him to get back out there.

Eventually, Zachery decided that he wouldn’t take no for an answer and he worked hard to take the field. He has had injuries since – but more the garden variety bumps and bruises that every football player gets. He has had trouble with a kneecap but pushed to get back in the game every time.

As it turns out, Zachery is good. At 6 feet, 235 pounds, he plays a punishing offensive and defensive line for Emmanuel County Institute where was named the 2015 top OL in State of Georgia for the Single A division and selected for the 2016 preseason GHSA OL for Georgia. He has been given the “Player of the Week” at Emanuel County Institute and has some colleges interested in him after he graduates next year. He currently has four top choices: The Citadel, Hope College, Western Michigan, and St. Olaff, but is keeping his options open at this time.

Zachery is so good that he has been selected to play in the OD All-America Bowl in Atlanta on December 30th. The Diamond in the Rough Game will be broadcast on ESPN and there will be many college coaches in attendance.

We at CURE wish Zachery the best for his future both on and off the field. Zachery is living proof that our investment in research can allow kids to be more than normal – they can thrive. Our goal at CURE is to fund life-saving research that improves the survival for children battling cancer as well as addresses the unique and critical needs of survivors. We want ALL children to thrive. Won’t you join us?


Your Piece of the Puzzle

Have you ever sat over a puzzle for endless hours searching for the last edge piece? It might be a color and pattern that should be easy to find and yet, among all of the others that look so similar, it can elude even the most relentless pursuit.

Sometimes the answer to a problem in real life can be just as elusive. Even when your soul yearns to help, the way to do so can be hard to find. Just ask Melissa. A few years ago, Melissa heard about a boy named Lake at her church who was fighting cancer for the second time. A mother herself, she felt an immediate connection with Lake’s mother who was about to have another child. Her heart went out to this family who were thrust back into a fight for his life and she felt compelled to do something. But she had no idea what piece she could play in this puzzle since she didn’t know the family personally.

Some people stop there. With the noblest of intentions, they scour the table, decide there is no way to find their piece and then put the puzzle in the box. They still feel bad and hope that someone will help, but they don’t continue to search for a way.

Not Melissa. She knew she had to do something. When Lake passed away in May of 2015, she was devastated. But that event cemented her calling to do something in his memory.

So she decided to raise money for CURE Childhood Cancer. The question of how she would go about doing that plagued her. As she considered the question, an idea of making and selling beaded bracelets began forming in her mind. This lead to even more questions because jewelry-making wasn’t something she had any experience with. But she took the plunge and decided to take up a new hobby with the hopes of honoring Lake and his family.

In August, she began to collect beads from broken jewelry, Goodwill, and friends who were willing to share their unwanted pieces and she made 400 bracelets. She sold them during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month on Facebook for $6 apiece and when they were gone she had raised over $2000! This year she did the same thing and made $2700. She has received orders from as far away as Switzerland and Germany.

She has also met Lake’s mother, Anna, and the two have become friends. Melissa says that making jewelry for this worthy cause brings her joy. It is the part she can play – her piece of the puzzle.

What is your piece?

What can you do to help CURE support families fighting against cancer and fund research that will ultimately lead to a cure? Maybe you have a talent you can use or like Melissa, you could start something new. If you would like ideas, visit our Fundraising Page or send an email to [email protected]. We would love to help you find out where you can fit in.


Five Reasons to Seek Counseling – And CURE Can Help!

Hearing the statement “your child has cancer” is quite possibly the most difficult and life changing information you could ever receive.  You may immediately experience feelings of shock and denial.  This is a common and natural response.  Over time, you may start to experience other feelings as well –  feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, hopelessness, and fear.  These feelings are commonly associated with grief.  Grief can mean the fear of losing someone we love and adore, or it may be the realization that our life will never be the same.  Parents experiencing the impact of childhood cancer may find the following losses relatable and may benefit from the aid of counseling.

  1. The loss of control and the ability to provide safety.

The feeling of loss could begin upon hearing your child’s diagnosis.  You feel you can no longer control your child’s environment or his or her safety. As the parent, you know your child and his or her needs the best, yet know you have to put your trust in a team of doctors and staff to care for your child.

  1. The loss of security.

The news that your child might be facing life or death could leave you questioning yourself, your beliefs, and your confidence in the future.  You may also be questioning your financial security.  Symptoms of anxiety and fear may emerge.  You might find your mind racing, a heaviness in your chest, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.

  1. The loss of a normal routine and freedom. 

At one point you were juggling all of your children’s sports events, and now, you’re not only missing them, but you’re also missing work and time with your spouse and friends.  Your life is now about survival.  Through this time you may feel you are not doing enough or as if you are letting someone down.  You may find yourself in a constant state of conflict and uncertainty about what you “should” be doing.

  1. The loss of good health.

The loss of good health could mean lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and not taking time for yourself.  Stress takes a toll on the body.  When our sole concern is being present and supportive of another person, oftentimes we become neglectful of ourselves.  When we do not have the time or the ability to take care of ourselves we become more susceptible to physical illness and mental health issues.  We may lose patience, find ourselves more irritable, experience foggy thinking and begin to isolate or feel alone.

  1. The loss of a loved one.  

The loss of a child is devastating, and quite honestly, unnatural.  Fortunately, the majority of children with cancer today survive. But should you experience this loss, you may feel as though you don’t know what to do next, or even how to go on.  These feelings are a natural response when we lose someone special to us.

There is no denying the emotional and mental impact that cancer has on children, their parents, and their loved ones.  Those who experience grief due to childhood cancer may also experience some of the following: post-traumatic stress, avoidance, isolation, depression, anxiety, resentment, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Counseling can help you adjust to challenges and manage your symptoms.
Don’t fight this fight alone.  We are here for you.

CURE Childhood Cancer and Summit Counseling Center have teamed up to provide professional counseling resources to CURE families at little to no cost.  To learn more please call Karen McCarthy at 770-986-0035 at ext.26 or email [email protected].

Article by Tori Goodling, MEd, LAPC (Applied), staff therapist at Summit Counseling Center.

Five Ways to Stay Healthy After Treatment

Contributed by: Nancy Keene

National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual celebration of life held on the first Sunday in June. It inspires and supports survivors of cancer, including childhood cancer. There is much to celebrate––cure rates for many childhood cancers have dramatically increased. As a result, almost half a million children, teens, and adults living in the United States are survivors of childhood cancer.

The tough news is that most survivors of childhood cancer develop late effects months, years or decades after treatment. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital found that 95% of long-term survivors of childhood cancer had at least one chronic health condition by age 45. The good news is that many of these late effects can be prevented or managed by getting excellent follow-up care and making healthy choices.

Here are five ways survivors can maintain their hard-won health:

1. Get a Summary of Your Treatment
Every survivor needs a summary of his or her cancer treatment. The type and dose of chemotherapy drugs and the location and amount of radiation affect your risk of developing certain late effects. If you don’t have a summary, ask your oncologist or nurse practitioner to fill out the treatment summary form found at:


This health history will become an indispensable part of your medical records for the rest of your life. Keep one completed copy in a safe place and give a copy to each of your medical providers (e.g., internist, ophthalmologist, gynecologist).

2. Go to a Comprehensive Survivorship Clinic Every Year
Children, teens and adults who survived childhood cancer should be seen by experts at survivorship clinics. This is because most primary care providers have little or no training in the late effects that arise after treatment for childhood and adolescent cancers. For example, Hodgkin disease usually strikes teens and young adults. Many treatment plans for this illness include radiation to the chest and neck (called mantle radiation). About one-third of women who have this type of radiation develop breast cancer before age 50, and many more can no longer make enough thyroid hormone for good health. Both male and female survivors who had radiation to the chest also tend to develop heart disease in their 40s and 50s. Survivorship experts know about these late effects, but most primary care doctors don’t. A recent study of 2,000 general internists who were given a vignette about a female survivor of Hodgkin disease found that:

  • 91% did not recommend yearly breast cancer surveillance
  • 85% did not recommend cardiac surveillance
  • 24% did not recommend yearly thyroid surveillance

The number of survivorship clinics has increased over the years, including clinics for adult survivors of childhood cancer. A list of follow-up clinics can be found in the Pediatric Oncology Resource Center.

3. Tell Your Primary Care Doctor About the Long-term Follow-up Guideline
If you go to a comprehensive survivorship clinic, the experts will base the screening tests you need on your treatment summary. They then will send a detailed report of their exam and screening results to your primary care doctor. But what should you do if you aren’t able to go to a survivorship clinic? The Children’s Oncology Group (the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research) developed a set of clinical practice guidelines that provide recommendations for screening and management of late effects in survivors of childhood cancer. The guidelines,  developed by the 9,000 experts in the group, help physicians provide comprehensive follow-up care to survivors. If you are a survivor who doesn’t see an expert in late effects after childhood cancer, tell your healthcare provider about these guidelines so you can get the care you need and deserve.

4. Take Control of Your Health
Survivors have little or no control over their genetic make-up or the environment in which they live. However, making healthy choices about how to live the rest of their lives gives them quite a bit of control over their future. A sizable number of adult health problems are linked to lifestyle choices, so following are ways you can stay healthy:

  • Don’t smoke (your insurance might cover programs to help you quit)
  • Eat a healthy diet (see a nutritionist if you need support)
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy weight (work out with a buddy to help stay on track)
  • Use sunscreen (especially on any areas that were irradiated)
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all
  • Good health habits and regular medical care from experts will help protect your health and lessen the likelihood of late effects from your cancer treatment. You can learn more by reading Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Practical Guide to Your Future.


5. Do Things That Make You Happy
Happiness not only makes you feel good, but it helps you stay healthy and live longer. Different people need different ingredients for happiness. Some people join clubs to meet people with similar interests. Others like to hike, kayak or climb mountains. You might relax by reading a good book with a purring cat in your lap. Or contentment might come from helping others, working in a garden or spending time with close friends. Seeking out activities that bring you happiness will not only make you feel better but will improve your health. As a cancer survivor, you have something other people don’t have––an awareness that life can change in an instant and that huge challenges can be overcome, one day at a time. Through your cancer journey, you probably lost friends, gained friends, and laughed harder and cried more than ever before. By taking a few actions to protect your health, you’ll have many more years to enjoy the life you fought so hard to save

*Nancy Keene is a childhood cancer advocate, speaker, writer and co- founder of a nonprofit (Childhood Cancer Guides) that publishes books to help families of children with cancer and survivors of childhood cancer. She has written/co-authored fifteen books––some chosen for Library Journal’s “Best Consumer Health Books of the Year” list. Her work has appeared in Coping Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Journal of the American Medical Association, Exceptional Parent and other publications. She served as chair of the patient advocacy committee of a consortium of 350 children’s hospitals and as the public member on an FDA committee that reviews medications given to children with cancer. Her mission is to help families of sick children and survivors of childhood cancer find their way through the medical maze—one step at a time.

View her blog and books at:



Lendmark Climb to a Million

Bobby Aiken, CEO of Lendmark Financial, is passionate about finding cures for childhood cancers. Over the last six years, he has known three different young men who were diagnosed with varying types of cancer.  All three survived, but their individual journeys caused Bobby to step back and rethink his view of challenges.

It was Chip Madren who had the most profound effect on Bobby. Chip’s father, Ken, and Bobby have had a friendship that’s spanned their lifetimes. The Friday before Chip was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Anaplastic Medulloblastoma and given a very slim chance for survival, the three were fishing together.  A normal weekend.  But the news that broke on Monday was staggering. Bobby recalls, “In less than five days, we fished, laughed, ribbed one another, encountered a diagnosis of cancer, endured the first of many surgeries, and felt hearts breaking all around us. I’ll never forget the tears that filled the eyes of my family when I shared the news.  Life kind of seemed to stop in its tracks.”

As difficult as the early days were, it is the path since then that served as an inspiration to Bobby.  “Seeing people pull together to make a difference, watching Chip literally fight for his life and win, having Ken share stories of Lea’s (Chip’s mom) persistence and determination to keep everything aligned, the fight inside a mother for her child is incredible, it goes on and on.  Chip’s fight has made me a better person and has positively impacted many, many lives.”

Bobby is a stadium runner, and has spent the last few years thinking about Chip and kids like him who are facing the challenges of cancer while running.  He had an idea. What if he took his love of stadium running and turned it into a fundraiser, engaging his company’s employees, partners and vendors in the fight against childhood cancer.  The Climb to a Millon was born.

On Saturday, August 13, 2016 at Oconee County High School Stadium, Bobby’s vision became a reality as Lendmark Financial Services held its inaugural Climb to a Million.  His $150,000 goal was easily surpassed as employees and partners ran and walked 1 million steps. When all was said and done, Lendmark raised more than $225,000 for CURE.

Bobby says, “The Madren family is one of thousands that have to take on this fight every day.  It’s hard on every one of them and it’s a fight for every child. It takes every characteristic of strength, persistence, and faith; requiring reliance on one another and on those that surround them.  They did it, they continue to do it, and they set the example for others to follow.”