Childhood Cancer

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet

17 BOTTLES A few weeks ago, I cleaned out the medicine cabinet. That doesn’t sound super exciting, I know, but I threw away 17 bottles of expired chemotherapy and cancer related medications. Last year, these bottles were strung out across our counter at all times ready to be administered to my daughter Lexy every 4-12 hours. A lot has changed in a year. BACK TO “THAT” PLACE I’ve been reminded that fear can strike at any time. I had tried to clean the medicine cabinet after Lexy’s port removal surgery. That was months ago. These bottles were something I just couldn’t get rid of. Like some kind of crazy cancer superstition. But then I noticed seeing the bottles was hard—not only for me, but for Lexy. They took us back to “that” place. A piece of it always stays with you. You never forget seeing your child gasp for air or the sound of the alarm notifying everyone she is in distress. You...

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What is an Astrocytoma?

What is an Astrocytoma?

An astrocytoma is a brain tumor that begins in astrocytes—a type of glial cell that supports nerve cells in the brain. Astrocytomas can be benign or malignant and typically occur in the brainstem, cerebellum, cerebrum, hypothalamus or optic nerves. Tumors that start in glial cells are called gliomas and are named for the specific kind of glial cell in which they originate: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes or ependymocytes. Astrocytomas are the most common form of gliomas found in children—accounting for nearly half of all pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors. Like all gliomas, astrocytomas are divided into four grades based on factors including the rate of tumor growth, level of cell abnormality and effects on surrounding healthy tissue. Low-grade astrocytomas (grades I and II) are often localized to one area and typically behave less aggressively. While considered benign, these tumors...

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Happiness & Heartbreak: Life as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Happiness & Heartbreak: Life as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

FINDING A HOME IN NURSING For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in pediatric oncology and help kids with cancer. When I started my freshman year of college, I had my sights set on becoming a pediatric oncologist. My head was filled with visions of helping little warriors fight big battles. It wasn’t long before I realized those visions and dreams in my head were more focused on the job a nurse does rather than a doctor. So, I found my home in nursing and still dreamed of working with the same population. Fast forward to present day and I’m doing just that! HEARTBREAK AND HAPPINESS In honor of National Nurses Day, I was asked to write this blog about what it’s like to be a pediatric oncology nurse. Most people would say my job is sad. They would be right some days. Others would say it’s inspiring. They would also be right some days. I would say, if you ever felt...

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“See You On Monday”

“See You On Monday”

A year ago Friday I looked at the Rally staff and said, “See you on Monday.” On Saturday, I spent the day doing research on COVID-19. By Saturday night I was looking up best practices for working from home. On Sunday, I called the leadership team together. Within two hours we had three Zoom accounts and a meeting scheduled with the whole team. I told the Rally team we would be sheltering in place and meeting by Zoom each morning and afternoon. I broke the news that we would not have any of our three scheduled Rally On the Runway events and that the advocacy team would not be going to Washington, D.C. the next week as planned. I shared that we were going to take our inspiration from our Rally families, who adjust and readjust almost on a daily basis without seemingly missing a beat. One team member said, “Childhood cancer isn’t going to take a break because of this pandemic, and neither...

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What is Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)?

What is Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)?

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare disorder in which the body produces an overabundance of Langerhans cells. These cells, which are also known as histiocytes, are a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system fight off infections. LCH causes too many of these cells to form, ultimately resulting in a buildup in the body. This accumulation of cells then damages organs, forms tumors, and otherwise disrupts normal tissue functions. According to the Histiocytosis Association, approximately one in 200,000 children is diagnosed with LCH. LCH is classified into three syndromes: Eosinophilic granuloma: the most common type that occurs most often in children who are five to 15 years of age Hand-Schüller-Christian disease: a chronic form of LCH that is typically diagnosed before the age of five Letterer-Siwe disease: a rare and potentially fatal syndrome that affects children...

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What is Lymphoma?

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that attacks immune system cells called lymphocytes, causing them to grow abnormally and out of control. Lymphocytes are found throughout the body in organs that make up the lymphatic system—including the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and the thymus gland. Lymphoma is the third most common form of cancer in children, following leukemia and brain tumors. There are two main types of lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin. Each type involves different lymphocytes, can grow at different rates and may respond differently to treatments. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur at any age and is more common in boys. There are four main Non-Hodgkin subtypes found in children: anaplastic large cell, large B-cell, lymphoblastic and Burkitt. Burkitt lymphoma is highly aggressive and extremely fast-growing. Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly affects adolescents and young adults, but...

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Childhood Cancer

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet

17 BOTTLES A few weeks ago, I cleaned out the medicine cabinet. That doesn’t sound super exciting, I know, but I threw away 17 bottles of expired chemotherapy and cancer related medications. Last year, these bottles were strung out across our counter at all times ready to be administered to my daughter Lexy every 4-12 hours. A lot has changed in a year. BACK TO “THAT” PLACE I’ve been reminded that fear can strike at any time. I had tried to clean the medicine cabinet after Lexy’s port removal...

read more
What is an Astrocytoma?

What is an Astrocytoma?

An astrocytoma is a brain tumor that begins in astrocytes—a type of glial cell that supports nerve cells in the brain. Astrocytomas can be benign or malignant and typically occur in the brainstem, cerebellum, cerebrum, hypothalamus or optic nerves. Tumors that start in glial cells are called gliomas and are named for the specific kind of glial cell in which they originate: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes or ependymocytes. Astrocytomas are the most common form of gliomas found in...

read more
Happiness & Heartbreak: Life as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Happiness & Heartbreak: Life as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

FINDING A HOME IN NURSING For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in pediatric oncology and help kids with cancer. When I started my freshman year of college, I had my sights set on becoming a pediatric oncologist. My head was filled with visions of helping little warriors fight big battles. It wasn’t long before I realized those visions and dreams in my head were more focused on the job a nurse does rather than a doctor. So, I found my home in nursing and still dreamed of working...

read more
“See You On Monday”

“See You On Monday”

A year ago Friday I looked at the Rally staff and said, “See you on Monday.” On Saturday, I spent the day doing research on COVID-19. By Saturday night I was looking up best practices for working from home. On Sunday, I called the leadership team together. Within two hours we had three Zoom accounts and a meeting scheduled with the whole team. I told the Rally team we would be sheltering in place and meeting by Zoom each morning and afternoon. I broke the news that we would not have any of our...

read more
What is Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)?

What is Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)?

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare disorder in which the body produces an overabundance of Langerhans cells. These cells, which are also known as histiocytes, are a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system fight off infections. LCH causes too many of these cells to form, ultimately resulting in a buildup in the body. This accumulation of cells then damages organs, forms tumors, and otherwise disrupts normal tissue functions. According to the Histiocytosis Association,...

read more
What is Lymphoma?

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that attacks immune system cells called lymphocytes, causing them to grow abnormally and out of control. Lymphocytes are found throughout the body in organs that make up the lymphatic system—including the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and the thymus gland. Lymphoma is the third most common form of cancer in children, following leukemia and brain tumors. There are two main types of lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin. Each type involves different lymphocytes, can...

read more

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