On January 9, 2013, the Egleston campus of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta cut the ribbon on a state of the art MIBG therapy room in memory of Patrick Chance, a brave young boy who battled cancer for six years. Patrick passed away last January 9th on his 9th birthday.
At only three years old, Patrick was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma, and over the course of the next six years, Patrick spent more than 200 nights in the hospital, and visited clinics in Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia more than 400 times.
In 2006, the Chance family created the first “Named Fund” under the CURE umbrella, Press On to CURE Childhood Cancer, which provides desperately needed funding for innovative research relating to neuroblastoma and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Recently, the Press On fund granted $200,000 to the Aflac Cancer Center for a new treatment room which is lined with lead and will be used by children who need targeted MIBG intravenous radiation treatments, available in only a handful of hospitals in the United States. Additionally, on the advice of Patrick’s parents, Erin and Stephen Chance, the room is connected to a room where the child’s parents can stay so they can see and talk to each other through a closed-circuit TV system while limiting the parent’s exposure to radiation. Erin and Stephen were instrumental in assisting with the design of the room.
“We are proud to continue to help the Aflac Cancer Center become one of the nation’s top pediatric cancer centers by equipping them to deliver this important radiation therapy,” remarked Kristin Connor, CURE’s Executive Director. “The Aflac Cancer Center is the only center in this region of the country to have this capability.”
Dr. Howard Katzenstein, director of the Innovative Therapy Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Patrick’s doctor explains the importance of MIBG therapy and its advantage over traditional radiation. “Many patients with cancer, when they receive radiation, lay on a table and a beam is focused on them. … A problem with that treatment is while it’s focused on the tumor itself, it hits other parts of the body. It works, but it has some collateral damage,” said Dr. Katzenstein. “This MIBG treatment allows the patient to be injected with the radioactive drug that targets the cancer cells directly. The radiation goes inside the tumor and the cells die. There’s a lot less surrounding damage.”
Before the therapy room was built at the Aflac Cancer Center, Georgia families had to travel far from home for MIBG treatment. The new radiation therapy room funded by the Press On Fund is one of only eight in the nation and will hopefully spare families the expense of traveling for this important treatment as well as the serious emotional stress of separation from other family and support.
With the room complete, Patrick’s sisters are raising money to stock the patient room with toys, since anything the kids bring in could be contaminated with radiation. “We are always remembering Patrick,” said Kristin Connor. “He touched our lives in a profound way and we are honored to be able to help continue to build upon his legacy. CURE is proud to house the Press On Fund and work with the Chance and Simkins families to make a difference for children fighting cancer.”