Nurse Helps Educate and Heal Her Patients

valerierigbyValerie Rigby, RN has been in the nursing field for more than 22 years. She started as a nurse in England, and eventually moved to the United States. While in England, Val helped develop one of the first pain and palliative care programs aimed at helping families learn more about a diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as arranging home care for them.

After Valerie and her family moved to the U.S., she began working at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPOnt Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and fell in love with pediatric oncology nursing. She loves getting to know her patients and helping them through the difficulties of dealing with cancer. Val believes that continued education is essential to advancing care for children with cancer, and often refers her patients and their families to the CureSearch website for educational resources. She even helped write a booklet about radiotherapy so that children undergoing radiation treatment and their parents know what to expect.

Throughout her years as a nurse, Valerie has seen many advances, but believes that education is the greatest tool that she can provide to her patients and their families. She believes that when a medical team can offer this, the families are better equipped to deal with a diagnosis and treatment.

To learn more about the educational resources that CureSearch provides, visit

FDA Drug Approval Process

The Food and Drug Administration drug approval process can often be confusing. New drugs go through multiple steps, including clinical trials, before they reach a patient.  In this infographic, the drug approval process is explained.

FDA Approval Process

To see the full infographic, visit

Accelerate the Search: Find the Cure

At CureSearch, we are excited to announce our funding portfolio for 2013! Over the last 25 years, CureSearch has been a leader in funding children’s cancer research and this year we are launching a new funding platform that will help accelerate the search for cures.

CureSearch will to continue to support clinical trials through the Clinical Trial Advancement Awards, a program that distributes funds to hospitals in the United States enrolling patients in Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III therapeutic clinical trials. At CureSearch we believe that clinical trials are the key to making a difference for children with cancer, today.

Not only will we continue to support clinical trials and provide educational resources, we will for the first time invest significant dollars into preclinical and clinical research aimed at accelerating the cure for children at the greatest risk of losing their battle with cancer.

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Day in the Life: Anisa Hoie

Anisa Hoie is a pediatric oncology nurse at Omaha Children’s Hospital and also a committee member for the Omaha CureSearch Walk. Anisa has been a nurse since 1983 and involved with the CureSearch Walk for 7 years. Throughout her years as a pediatric oncology nurse, she has seen a lot of advancements in treatment, leading to more survivors. She uses her passion for helping kids to motivate her at work and while she plans the Omaha Walk. CureSearch recently caught up with Anisa to learn more about her role, and what led her to this profession.

Q:What led you to becoming a nurse?

A:I have always enjoyed interacting with people. When I was in college, I was deciding between a nursing or music major, but felt that I my passion was in nursing. I was inspired by others in my family who had chosen that profession and all the good work that they did

When I graduated from college and started looking for a job, my only criteria was that I didn’t want to work on the oncology ward since in the past I had only interacted with adults with cancer. But, after I started working at Omaha Children’s Hospital and began working with children I knew that was where I wanted to be.

Q:What is an average day like for you at the hospital?

A:I spend most of my day in the clinic caring for patients and making sure that they have everything that they need. When a patient arrives, I see how they are doing and work with them throughout their visit to make sure they are getting the best possible care. I enjoy getting to know patients throughout their treatment.

Q:What is your favorite part of being a Nurse?

A: My favorite part of being a nurse is celebrating milestones with patients. Whether it is celebrating birthdays, graduations, or even weddings, I love being a part of our patients’ lives. I also love that working with kids means being able to “play” like a kid and doing so allows me to bond with them in a special way.

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

A:Unfortunately, not all kids respond to treatment well and some don’t survive. The hardest part is seeing this happen, wishing that there was more I could do.  I am close with the nurses I work with, and we all know that while going through the hard times is painful, we can always learn from these children. Our goal is to help those families and patients through this part of their lives and hopefully get to celebrate milestones with them after treatment.

First National Clinical Trial for Incurable Children’s Cancer Launched by Van Andel Institute

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The first national clinical trial ever approved to study all incurable children’s cancers is underway at Van Andel Institute.

Of the 10,000 pediatric cancer cases diagnosed each year, about 25 percent are considered incurable even with aggressive treatments. The study will analyze the molecular makeup and genetic mutations of individual tumors to create a targeted treatment plan for each patient.

“We are very excited to have this study at Van Andel Institute,” said Dr. Giselle Sholler, the pediatric oncologist leading the research.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the study, which will include up to 50 patients and will be conducted at 15 hospitals around the country, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Read more…

Shepard Kelly and his Family Take on the Ultimate Fight

Shepard Kelly 3

Shepard was diagnosed with B-cell ALL on August 23rd, 2011; after his parents noticed that he was not his typical self and had a slightly bloated stomach.  After a call to his pediatricians office, his parents decided to take him to the ER. He was quickly admitted and the hospital staff started running tests to see if they could pin point what might be causing his symptoms. After five hours at the hospital, Shepard was discharged with no insight into what might be causing his issues.

After his trip to the hospital, Shepard was mostly back to normal but continued to have bouts of fatigue and stomach pain. On the 22nd, he woke up in extreme pain and his pediatrician instructed his parents to take him to the hospital. After more tests were run, doctors noticed an abnormality in his blood that looked like leukemia.

Shepard Kelly

A month after his second birthday, the diagnosis was confirmed and Shepard began his journey with leukemia. This journey would include nearly nine months of intense chemotherapy followed by maintenance for over two years. While the journey has not been easy for Shepard, his resilience has been incredible. Though he is only half way through treatment, he and his family are confident that he will beat leukemia.

This year, Shepard and his family are raising awareness for children’s cancer as Ultimate Hike Heroes. To learn more about the Ultimate Hike and how you can join the fight against children’s cancer, visit

Clinical Trials: Offering New Treatments Today

Clinical trials are the last step in a long process that begins with research in a lab and ends with new treatment options for children with cancer. In short, treatments used today are the result of past clinical trials. Unlike cancer in adults, when a child is diagnosed with cancer, they are almost always enrolled in a clinical trial.  In fact, more than 60% of children undergoing treatment for cancer are enrolled in a clinical trial. This makes clinical trials essential to developing new treatments for children in need today.

There are three phases to clinical trials, each of which plays a different role in ensuring that treatments are safe and effective for children with cancer. Phase I trials are the first stage of testing a drug in humans and are used to find a safe dose, they usually involve 15 – 30 people and their goal is to measure how the treatment affects the human body. Phase II trials take place after Phase I and determine if the new treatment is effective in treating the cancer and measures the side effects of the treatment on the body. Involving less than 100 people, this phase is important in determining if the treatment will be effective against the cancer. Phase III trials can involve 100 to several thousand patients and compare the new treatment being studied with existing treatments, measure effectiveness.  When a Phase III trial is complete, if the data show the treatment to be effective, it can become a standard of care for patients with cancer. Sometimes, Standards of Care are studied in what is called a Phase IV trial.  Phase IV studies some aspect of the Standard of Care, for example, long-term side effects of the treatment.

In children’s cancer, participation in a clinical trial usually spans 2-3 years and in the later phases, does not involve placebo medication.  This type of research offers widespread impact for families because their child’s participation often promises the best chance for survival.  At CureSearch, we believe that clinical trials offer children a better chance for survival by delivering treatments that show the greatest potential for a cure.