Childhood Cancer

Brooke Survives Cancer, Graduates Stanford – But Not Without A Lifetime’s Worth of Challenges

by Brooke Vittimberga
June 17, 2019

Editor’s Note: Brooke is an Ambassador and Honored Kid who just graduated from Stanford University. As Cancer Survivors Month continues on the St. Baldrick’s Blog, we’re letting her tell the story of how she got to this day in her own words.

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, my friends were finishing up their first week of junior year at Stanford. I was lying in a hospital bed, watching as my brother’s stem cells were infused into my body, replacing the bone marrow that had turned against me.

On Friday, September 25, my friends celebrated their first weekend back together at school. I had a grand mal seizure.

When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the end of my sophomore year of college, I knew that I was going to have a very different college experience from my peers. I had no idea how different it would be.

I had the impression that I would either die or I would live and return to my previous life. I had a high-risk form of leukemia that did not respond to my first round of chemotherapy, and at first it seemed that the death option was more likely.

But when I got into remission on a salvage round of chemotherapy and proceeded to my bone marrow transplant, I was hopeful that a return to “normal life” was possible.

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Advocacy

Happy Anniversary, Childhood Cancer STAR Act! Signed into Law One Year Ago Today

by Danielle Leach
June 5, 2019

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act – the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill in history – was signed into law one year ago today!

2013 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Matthias advocating on Capitol Hill

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Real-Life Stories

Survivorship: A Lifelong Journey

by Becky Chapman Weaver, Chief Mission Officer
May 31, 2019

Sunday, June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day, and we at St. Baldrick’s have dubbed the entire month of June “Cancer Survivors Month.” Our focus for the month ahead will be to bring awareness to the fact that surviving childhood cancers is just the first step in a lifelong journey for many survivors.

A series of four copy-based statistic windows show the following important stats: first, that by the time they're 50, 99% of childhood cancer survivors will have had a chronic health problem other than cancer. Second, that in the U.S. there are 420,000 survivors of childhood cancer. Third, that by age 50, childhood cancer survivors will have faced an average of 17 adverse health effects from their cancer diagnosis. Finally, donors have helped fund more than 140 grants totaling over $19 million to improve survivorship outcomes.

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Real-Life Stories

Staying Positive, and Thriving, as a Young Survivor of Pediatric Cancer

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
May 31, 2019

What jumps out after talking with Shane Callaghan? His positivity. In a recent interview with Shane and his dad, Casey, Shane took center stage with his upbeat, can-do attitude – in spite of a lifetime worth of medical setbacks for a kid who is only 14. Shane has faced multiple treatments for osteosarcoma, which was first diagnosed in October 2015.

The following July, Shane was declared cancer-free. But the cancer in his left leg returned in March 2018. Following his relapse, chemotherapy led to an infection that severely damaged his kidneys. While his kidneys are better, they only function at 50% and are unable to handle heavy doses of chemo. On April 1, 2019, Shane’s left leg was amputated to remove the cancer and ultimately save his life.

Shane appears in a hospital bed following the amputation of his leg in April 2019.

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A Dad Shares His Son’s Cancer Story Part 2: Survivorship

by Dan Butler
May 31, 2019

Editor’s Note: In part one, we heard from Dan Butler, whose son, Sullivan, had a whirlwind that started with back pain and ended up with a cancer diagnosis. Now, here’s part two, where Dan shares the story of how they continue to move forward.

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Real-Life Stories

A Dad Shares His Son’s Cancer Story Part 1: Discovery and Treatment

by Dan Butler
May 31, 2019

Editor’s Note: Today on the St. Baldrick’s blog, we’ve decided to hand the microphone over to Dan Butler, whose son, Sullivan, was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, at the age of 10. June is Cancer Survivors Month at St. Baldrick’s, and the first Father’s Day after Sullivan’s diagnosis and treatment was especially meaningful for Dan.

Dan reading to his son Sullivan in the hospital.

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Real-Life Stories

Brooke’s Survivorship Journey

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
May 31, 2019

Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of June, Cancer Survivors Month, we are hearing from and about those who have been diagnosed with pediatric cancers, and learning about the long-term impact and late effects of cancer treatments. The month of June also marks four years since the focus of this blog post, Brooke, was first diagnosed.

Brooke poses for a photo in a park on a sunny day.

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Real-Life Stories

What Happens When A Pediatric Cancer Survivor Grows Up to Be a Pediatric Oncologist?

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
May 31, 2019

When you’re a kid with cancer, you’re not thinking about long-term impacts of treatment: you just want to get better. Parents, too, are rightly focused on a desire to put cancer behind the family and get on with life.

While some childhood cancers still have no cure, overall survival rates have climbed into a figure that’s around 80%, so more attention is being paid to those long-term impacts. What if the treatment you get today can lead to all sorts of unwanted side effects later? And, if you survive as a child, as you move into adolescence and then adulthood, what can be done to ensure you have the best possible quality of life?

Dr. John Gates, a survivor now in his 40s, has worked tirelessly to help treat kids with cancer, and to ensure that those who do survive know how to face future challenges head on.

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Childhood Cancer

A Famous Kid and A Pediatric Cancer Researcher Who Learned From Him – And What Those Lessons Might Mean for Future Pediatric Cancer Treatment

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
May 29, 2019

It was an inspirational story that was tough to miss: Tyler Trent, Purdue student and Boilermaker superfan, battling a cancer that would prove fatal, and doing so with grace, poise, and character that belied his 20 years. His story has been told during countless television pieces, and social media posts, and even a book. Behind the scenes, though, Tyler made a decision that could potentially mean life-saving treatment in years to come for others faced with aggressive cancers. He agreed to be treated by a team of professionals that would try a precision oncology approach, with genomics front and center, to test what could potentially work for others in the future. The medical team hoped to learn ways to minimize the long-term effects from a wide range of cancers for those who survive.

One member of the team that worked with Tyler, and got to know his family, too, was Dr. Jamie Renbarger, a six-time St. Baldrick’s Foundation shavee and Division Chief of hematology/oncology at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. During her nearly twenty years as a pediatric cancer doctor and researcher, Dr. Renbarger has learned a few things about genomics, about targeted, precision therapies – like those tried with Tyler – and about how research can lead to unexpected discoveries.

Dr. Jamie Renbarger is having her head shaved by a barber at a St. Baldrick's head-shaving event.
Dr. Jamie Renbarger has her head shaved at a St. Baldrick’s event.

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Do What You Want

What Happens When “Do What You Want” Becomes “Ladies’ Night” for 800 Women?

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
May 28, 2019

It started as a lot of St. Baldrick’s Foundation events do: a few people getting together at the local spot to shave heads and help raise money for pediatric cancer research. After seeing volunteers participate, Terry Binkely-Paterno wanted to get involved in a different way.

And for very good reason, as her nephew, Aiden, had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in July of 2008. Wanting to take action, Terry and her mothers’ group – the Wednesday Mothers Club – decided to host a bake sale and contribute the proceeds.

Terry appears next to other women participating in the Ladies' Night event.
Terry (third from left) and other Ladies’ Night committee members.

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