Day in the Life: Susan Schrader


“That cancer killed Ella is tragic. How cancer killed her is sad. That cancer treatment itself is brutal is something we must change,” said Carol Schrader, Susan’s sister and Ella’s mom. “When I volunteer and walk for CureSearch, I take small steps toward the huge goal of curing pediatric cancer. For Ella and every kid who is living or will live with cancer, I walk.”

Day in the Life_Susan

Susan Schrader is a Portland CureSearch Walk committee member. She was drawn to CureSearch after her niece, Ella, was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, Ella passed away, but Susan is determined to help fund research that will improve treatments for children with cancer so that no child has to go through what her niece did. CureSearch recently caught up with Susan to learn more about her role as committee member and what lead her there.

Q:  What lead you to CureSearch?

A:  In September of 2010, my then 7-year-old niece, Ella, was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment was horrible, it seemed like very little advancements had been made to improve treatments. I watched her determination and strength throughout the whole process and realized that there had to be a better way to treat these children. My sister asked me to participate in the Portland CureSearch Walk as a birthday present to her, that is when I found CureSearch.

Q:  What lead you to becoming a CureSearch Walk committee member?

A:  After the first Walk, I was so moved by the event that I knew that I wanted to get involved in a bigger way. I answered the call to become a committee member. I get to work with some amazing people who are so dedicated to CureSearch and fighting children’s cancer.

Q:  What is a typical day as a committee member like?

A:  I try to do something for the Walk every day. Whether its meeting with leaders in my town, coordinating fundraisers, or working with the media to spread awareness, I love knowing that I’m making a difference.

Q:  What is the hardest part of being a committee member?

A:  I think the hardest part is that the subject is difficult for people to talk about. When I ask businesses or individuals to get involved, they are sometimes uncomfortable talking about children’s cancer. I have to constantly come up with new and creative ways to raise money and get people involved, which can sometimes be difficult.

Q:  What is your favorite part of being a committee member?

A:  My favorite part is working with my family and community on something that can benefit people everywhere for generations to come.

To volunteer or participate in a Walk near you, visit

Helping Parents Understand MRIs

New clinical videos demonstrate procedures to patients and families

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer is pleased to share a video in our series designed to familiarize cancer patients and their parents with common tests and procedures.

Our goal with these videos is to provide education in a non-threatening way that reduces anxiety for everyone, including appropriately-aged children, allowing them to watch what they will experience ahead of time.

This video of an MRI was made possible through support from Pfizer and were filmed at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE.

Learn more about MRIs, or other tests and procedures, on

Grandmother Takes on Ultimate Hike in Honor of Granddaughter

Joyce-webThe Ultimate Hike is unlike any other event in that it not only challenges participants to embark on an endurance event, but to participate, they have to do something impressive for children with cancer – raise funds to help support research! Joyce’s granddaughter, Eve had battled Wilms tumor and she wanted to do something big to raise awareness and help. Ultimate Hike was the perfect event.

Being an oncology nurse, Joyce knew that many people are not aware of the prevalence of children’s cancer or of how little funding is available. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of children, like her granddaughter, who were battling cancer.

In 2011, after her daughter Christy completed her first Hike, Joyce decided to follow suit and signed up for the Ultimate Hike in Pennsylvania. She and two of her coworkers joined forces, working hard to train for the 26 mile, day-long Hike and worked even harder to raise funds for research. In 2013, Joyce decided to take on her second Hike. Four coworkers joined her, and together they became one of the highest fundraising teams to complete the Dolly Sods Wilderness Trail.

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Meet the Children: Sophie May Sewell

CureSearch was introduced to Sophie May Sewell at both the Kansas City and Dallas CureSearch Walks this year. Now 2, Sophie was just 20 months old when her parents found a bump on her back. Doctors assured her family that it was nothing, just connective tissue, and not to worry. Just to be sure, they ordered an MRI. The news was not as positive as they had hoped. Doctors determined that the bump was a neuroblastoma tumor the size of a baseball, and it was located in her chest cavity.

Sophie May Sewell

Thus, Sophie’s journey with cancer began in June, 2012. Sophie’s grandmother, Monica May, moved closer to her family to be able to help with everyday tasks and the care of Sophie. She wanted to do whatever she could to make the treatment process easier on her son and granddaughter. “I wouldn’t trade the last 10 months with Sophie May for anything. It’s meant the world to me to be here and be able to help in any small way possible,” says Monica. “I just wish the reason I was able to be here wasn’t because she had cancer.” Since then, she has had 6 rounds of stem cell transplant, 12 rounds of immunotherapy treatment.

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Kiewit Infrastructure Raises $1 Million for Children’s Cancer Research

Long tradition of helping the community continues with Jakefest Golf Outings

JakeFest_logoKiewit Infrastructure Co. has a long history of charity, whether it’s through the United Way community and holiday events, or annual Golf Outings. Kiewit is an employee-owned company that takes care of its own. Formed in 1884, the company has grown into a Fortune 500 construction, mining, and engineering powerhouse that works hard to give back to the community and employees. This year, Kiewit broke the $1 million giving mark to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.

“We are so grateful for Kiewit’s onging support,” says Laura Thrall, CureSearch president and CEO. “Their generosity, and that of their employees, has had a positive impact on rhabdomyosarcoma research in the hopes that one day children like Jake won’t lose their lives to this devastating disease.”

When Jake Koenigs, the son of an employee, passed away from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer in 2006, Kiewit’s Eastern District wanted to help. Jake’s father Harry says, “When we realized that Jake wasn’t going to survive, we wanted to find a way to give back to an organization that was working towards finding a cure. We felt that CureSearch was that organization and my coworkers at Kiewit agreed.” In 2007, the Jacob Koenigs Memorial Golf Tournament, known simply as Jakefest, was held to raise funds for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.

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Researcher Studies the Role of Immunotherapy in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is the most common cancer originating in the crystal-louis-webnasopharynx, the area behind the nose where the nasal passages and auditory tubes join the remainder of the upper respiratory tract. It is known that the majority of cases are associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), one of the most common human viruses, most notably known as the cause of mono. While not continuing to make a person sick, once contracted, EBV always lives in a person’s body. In some cases, EBV can lead to cancers like NPC or lymphoma. Chrystal Louis, MD a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine plans to study alternative ways to treat NPC cases caused by EBV, in order to one day try to reduce treatment side effects.

Most commonly found in pediatric patients between 10 -17 years old, NPC often goes undiagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage and has spread to the lymph nodes. Due to its location, surgical removal is not an effective treatment option, so doctors rely on high doses of radiation and chemotherapy. Because the high-dose radiation treatments are to the face and neck, the side effects of current treatment can leave patients with long term affects such as hearing loss, dental issues, and chronic dry mouth.

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The Future of Pediatric Oncology: From Targets to Treatment

This September 15-16, CureSearch will host a 1.5 day conference in Washington, DC. During the conference the 2013 CureSearch Acceleration Grants will be awarded by Laura Thrall, President and CEO or CureSearch.

Top scientists in the field will discuss topics such as The Changing Face of Pediatric Oncology- Clinical Trials in the 21st Century, The Future of Cellular Therapy in Managing Pediatric Cancer, What is on the Horizon for Metastatic and Drug Resistant Disease?.

Join CureSearch as we explore The Future of Pediatric Oncology: From Targets to TreatmentFor more information, click here.