Oklahoma Soldier and Her Daughter Use Fitness to Fight Children’s Cancer

Stephanie Foster and Jessica Cousins (GX Online) – April 11, 2014: Sergeant Stephanie Foster is usually the first to know.

A member of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 120th Medical Company, she works in her civilian life as a laboratory technician in pediatric oncology. Her job is to locate cancer cells in children. After drawing a young patient’s blood, she peers through a microscope at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, looking for evidence she desperately hopes not to find.

But find it she does – far too often: malevolent cancer cells lurking amid healthy ones. That’s when she knows that a family is about to begin a life-and-death battle. Foster forms relationships with her young patients and their loved ones, even though doing so risks a broken heart each time. “It’s totally worth it,” she says. “The way they touch your life, it’s amazing. They’re so strong – stronger than the strongest Soldier out there.”

Strong enough to inspire Foster, a fitness instructor and versatile athlete, to push her physical limits to raise money and awareness on their behalf. She has previously entered walking events to raise money for cancer research. But nothing quite like what she’s about to try. She says it’s the least she can do, after what she’s received from them.

All of her patients touch her heart.

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Researcher to Study Bone Fractures in Pediatric and Adolescent Cancer Survivors

Research Update as of April 17, 2014:

Researchers and physicians know that children who undergo cancer treatment are at risk for decreased bone mineral density because many cancer treatments negatively affect bone health. It is particularly important that children and adolescents develop strong bone density because bone strength decreases in adulthood. Despite this knowledge, little is known about the rate at which fractures actually occur in survivors of childhood cancer and if they can be prevented.

Lynda Vrooman, MD, MMSc of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a CureSearch Young Investigator interested in better defining the risks and long-term consequences of fracture in survivors of childhood cancer, and in intervening to minimize long-term complications. During her first year of research, Dr. Vrooman completed enrollment of 193 patients in a study of reported bone fracture. Her findings demonstrate that approximately 25% of cancer survivors experienced at least one fracture after cancer treatment. Of those with fracture, 35% experienced more than one fracture after treatment. In addition, survivors treated with corticosteroids, commonly used in the treatment of many types of children’s cancer, experienced significantly higher rates of fracture after cancer treatment. These results highlight the importance of minimizing the bony complications associated with corticosteroids and suggest that a treatment-associated fracture risk may extend beyond cancer therapy completion.

In the next year of her work, Dr. Vrooman will conduct detailed bone density testing in childhood cancer survivors with a history of fracture. Dr. Vrooman anticipates that this work will inform future interventional studies aimed at decreasing skeletal toxicity in survivors of childhood cancer.

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Meet the Children: Ashley and Samantha Housel

Life was hectic yet wonderful for the Housel family when identical twins Ashley and Samantha arrived in 2010. It became even more hectic when, shockingly, both twins were diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML)in December, 2013.

Their cancer journey began when Ashley complained of leg pain. Upon examination, her mom, Monique, saw that the leg was swollen with a small spot on it from which veins were radiating. Monique brought Ashley to the pediatrician who first performed an ultrasound to make sure Ashley’s arteries weren’t blocked. The test was normal, so another ultra sound was performed. It showed that her kidneys were full of fluid. Because this was not normal, Ashley was sent to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida where a CT scan was performed. The results showed a mass in her abdomen.

Ashley spent two weeks in the hospital undergoing more tests. Eventually, a stent was implanted to help relieve the pressure on her kidneys and a biopsy of the mass was performed.

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Researcher Examines Impact of Extra Chromosome on Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Research Update as of April 17, 2014:

David Gordon, MD, PhD at Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a CureSearch Young Investigator examining the impact of trisomy 8 on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Of the 500 children diagnosed with AML each year, between 10-20% of an extra chromosome 8, called trisomy 8.

Dr. Gordon suspects that trisomy 8 contributes to the creation of cancerous cells because certain genes are expressed when an abnormal number of chromosomes are present. Using three cell lines he previously developed, Dr. Gordon spent the first year of his CureSearch grant screening the cell lines for new AML target genes and investigating the impact of trisomy 8 in blood cell development.

In the coming year, Dr. Gordon will explore how these genes, and their interaction with trisomy 8, lead to the development of AML.

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Two Schools Raise $3,618 Through Sock It To Cancer!

Sock It To Cancer EventWhen Valerie Week’s daughter Cecylia was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, they were surrounded by support from their community. “A lot of people helped us along the way,” says Valerie. “After we finished treatment, I knew that we had to do something to give back.” When she heard about CureSearch’s Sock It To Cancer, she thought it would be a great fit for her school, West Hills School, where she teaches 4th and 5th grade English.

Sock It To Cancer encourages students to help children with cancer by collecting spare change and bringing it in to school. The money collected helps fund research and clinical trials conducted at hospitals across the country. Valerie thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to teach her students that they can make a difference.

She reached out to some fellow teachers at other local schools and was amazed by the response. Teachers at neighboring school East Hills decided to join the campaign. Valerie and Karri Cowdry, East Hills School student council leadership faculty advisor, worked together to come up with event ideas and ways to get the students motivated.

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Give a Special Mother’s Day Tribute

Mothers DayThis Mother’s Day, give a tribute gift to honor the special women in your life! A tribute gift to CureSearch is a personal way to acknowledge the many women – mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, friends and others – who have loved, supported and encouraged you.

With a Mother’s Day tribute gift, you can show your loved ones how much you care, while ensuring CureSearch has the resources to continue funding the innovative childhood cancer research so important to finding a cure. Your tribute gift will also provide resources, including interactive videoswebinars, and podcasts, to help the thousands of families who face heartbreaking cancer diagnoses each year.

To make your gift today, simply follow this link and make a tribute donation. Tell us the person you want to honor, provide contact information, and we will then send a gift card notifying the individual of your gift. We respect your privacy and will not include the gift amount in our notification. To make sure your acknowledgement card arrives in time for Mother’s Day, please make your gift by Monday, May 5, 2014.

For more information about making a tribute gift to CureSearch, please contact us at (800) 458-6223 or info@curesearch.org.

$12,500 Raised For Children’s Cancer Research!

Joyce Reed is a long-time supporter of children with cancer. She annually hosts a dinner and auction in her community in Sevierville, Tennessee and this year’s benefitted CureSearch for the first time.

Joyce Reed

Joyce hasn’t been directly affected by children’s cancer, but she knows the toll that it can take on families, and just wanted to do something to help them.

She gathered her coworkers at Advantage Hair Salon in Tennessee, told them about CureSearch and how important this year’s event would be in supporting children’s cancer research. They immediately started contacting local businesses and asked them to support the event by donating auction items. Joyce was amazed by the generosity of the community; they received items from almost every business contacted.

As the day of the event drew closer, Joyce was sure that they would reach their goal of $6,000. She had no idea that they would raise $12,500 in one night!

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