Day in the Life: Bethany Smyth

Bethany Smyth 4

Bethany Smyth is a pediatric oncology nurse at Brooke Army Medical Center who is dedicated to her patients and their families. Bethany has been a nurse for 8 years, and can’t imagine doing anything else. She is a long time CureSearch supporter, completing the 2012 Texas Hill Country Ultimate Hike and participating in the San Antonio CureSearch Walk. CureSearch recently caught up with Bethany to ask her about life as a nurse.


Q: What motivated you to become a nurse?

A: My mom was a nurse, and growing up, I always knew that nursing was what I wanted to do. Eight years ago, I startedBethany Smyth 1 working on the adult transplant floor, but I always wanted to work in pediatrics. When I transferred hospitals, I was able to work with children in intermediate care, but was looking for something different. I decided to take a position at Brooke Army Medical Center, where I was given the opportunity to work in pediatric oncology. Once I started working there, I knew that working with these patients was what I was meant to do.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a nurse?

A: I can’t imagine doing anything else. I work in a small unit, so I get to know all of our patients. I love getting to take care of the entire family, not just the child going through treatment. When you’re in pediatric nursing, you’re not just focused on the child; you get to deal with so many different aspects of the treatment.

The children that we treat at our hospital are so resilient; they always have a smile on their face, no matter what they are going through. I love that I get to be a kid with the patients; I will do anything to make them smile. I also love how far treatment has come since I became a nurse.  It’s also so exciting when I have the opportunity to celebrate major milestones with patients, and see them move on to the next part of their lives.

Q: What is an average day like?

A: Typically there are two to three patients who are receiving chemotherapy at our hospital. We get a large variety of cancer types, and work together as a team to provide the best possible care. Not all of the children that we care for are oncology patients, so we offer many different types of care throughout the day. Each day is different than the last, which makes this job challenging and exciting.

Researcher Seeks Answers to DIPG

Study could lead to new treatment options


Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is one of the most devastating childhood cancers, with mean survival times of a little more than a year. DIPG is a type of central nervous system cancer that is located in the pons section of the brain. The pons controls breathing and swallowing, as well as movement in the face and head, and arms and legs. DIPG tumors cannot be removed because they lack an identifiable border, and they take over a location in the brain necessary for survival.

DIPG is a very rare childhood cancer and primarily affects children between 3-10 years old. The cancer is treated aggressively with radiation but in the last 30 years, no other treatments have been shown to extend a child’s life beyond 1 to 2 years. Diagnosed by unique characteristics that appear on MRI, until recently there was very little DIPG tissue available for researchers to study. Thanks to new autopsy processes, in recent years researchers have begun to study DIPG tissue and in doing so have found that a specific gene mutation is present in about 70% of DIPG tumors.

Read more….

Top Ten 2012 CureSearch Walk Teams

The CureSearch Walk helps fund innovative and targeted research as well as patients enrolled in  clinical trials conducted at hospitals across the country. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of the dedicated teams who tirelessly raised funds. Thank you to all the teams who participated in CureSearch Walks in 2012!

1. LOL 4 Lindsey- Chicago CureSearch Walk- $36,080

2. Cure It- Chicago CureSearch Walk- $30,230

3. Molly’s Miracle Makers- Omaha CureSearch Walk- $28,645

4. No fear. Just faith- Orlando CureSearch Walk- $27,127

5. Tournament for Lifers- Boston CureSearch Walk- $25,763

6. Team Lexe Kicks- Salt Lake City CureSearch Walk- $23,672

7. Paige’s Pals- Chicago CureSearch Walk- $22,972

8. Team Campbell- North Jersey CureSearch Walk- $22,874

9. G.I. Jake- Omaha CureSearch Walk- $22,553

10. Team Jeanne- Avery “J-Walkers for a Cure” – New Orleans CureSearch Walk- $21,192

Your Vote Can Win CureSearch $75,000!

From now through June 19, make your vote count! DSW has selected 8 organizations, including CureSearch, to compete for a grant of $75,000. All you have to do is visit DSW’s Facebook Fan Page on your computer and vote for CureSearch. Be sure to sign on and vote EACH DAY!


Helping Parents Understand Lumbar Puncture

The following video demonstrates a lumbar puncture in a child undergoing cancer treatment. A lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is an image-guided procedure performed on the lower back, which removed fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to examine it for cancer cells or infection. A lumbar puncture may also be performed to inject medication into this the spinal column. Children and adolescents are usually given anesthesia or sedation before a lumbar puncture is performed.

This video was designed to educate parents and caregivers by showing an actual patient being accessed for treatment. Our intent with this video is to help you, and your child if you chose to show it to them, understand what will happen when your child has this procedure.


Lumbar puncture

Event Organizers Receive C.H. Robinson Hero Award

MJ Golf Classic Raises $415,000 for Children’s Cancer Research

Event founders, Mo and Jim, were surprised and honored to be presented with the C.H. Robinson Hero Award for their years of hard work and dedication. The first C.H. Robinson Hero Award recognizes those C.H. Robinson employees or branches that have made a significant contribution, through charitable giving, events, or unique activities, to the communities in which they work and live. CureSearch is proud to stand in partnership with Mo and Jim as we work to accelerate the search for cures.

On April 19-20 more than 400 people gathered for the annual MJ Golf Classic! The event, now in its 13th year, raised more than $415,000 for children’s cancer research. Attendees enjoyed three rousing rounds of golf at the Jay Morrish Golf Course at Champions Circle as well as a kickoff bash with the popular Texas hold ‘em poker tournament at the Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

This year, participants once again had the opportunity to take part in the Texas Driving Experience, where professional racing instructors give attendees an inside look into the sport of road racing. Traveling at more than 160 miles per hour, 200 riders experienced the thrill of the ride from the front seat of a race car.

Read more… 

My brother. My hero.

This guest blog post by Kelli Very Wright

Ben and KelliWhen you hear childhood cancer, you think babies. toddlers. middle school.  I hear childhood cancer and think teenager. college. brother.

I came home for Thanksgiving break in Fall 2004, and my mom told me my brother Mike, a 17 year old freshman in college, had osteosarcoma, a childhood cancer.  I didn’t know what that meant at the time.  Didn’t know the words mediport, methotrexate or dilaudid.  Didn’t know he’d go through 18 rounds of chemo, two thoracotomies, and an implant surgery (from his femur to shin, including his knee), all before he turned 19.

It’s an interesting place to be, the sibling of a “child” with cancer.  All attention, all the time is no longer on you. Not only from your parents, but from family, friends, neighbors, everyone. If you have a slight fever, it means taking it easy and resting.  If your sibling with cancer has a slight fever, off to the hospital they go, with the possibility of being admitted and not coming home for a few days.  Your life changes.

I consider myself lucky – I was 20 years old and in college when Mike was in treatment.  My parents were able to devote all their time and energy on him.  Mike came first, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  I did stay in the hospitals during/after his surgeries, had to wear a mask at home so I didn’t sneeze and share germs and I definitely played shofer to and from the hospital.  But nothing compared to what my brother endured.  He showed me courage and strength I’d have to dig deep to find in myself.

I am thankful every day that Mike is now eight years cancer free.  He graduated from college [only one year late]; became a paramedic [his dream]; and continues to be a volunteer firefighter.  And just recently, Mike became a member of the New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) – medical personnel designed to provide medical care during a disaster or other event [this is not an easy accomplishment].

The battle doesn’t end when treatment does.  There will forever be check ups, long-term effects and tearful times when friends met along the way don’t make it.  So every year we have a party to celebrate life; family and friends from all over the East Coast come to raise a glass to Mike.

Some people never meet their hero, my brother is mine.