Tag Archives: pediatric cancer

Listen for cancer…

Many years ago I wrote a story about pediatric cancer treatment at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. It included the story of a teenage boy who’d noticed a lump in his neck — which was diagnosed as cancer and treated at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Today we’re home with our own 21-year-old son, who is undergoing something called radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancer. His cancer first came to light when a lump was felt during a routine endocrinology exam.

You might be tempted at this point to run your fingers over your neck, and to race to your children to do the same. But there’s something else you can do to make a difference, perhaps only in the lives of others’ children — but maybe one day in the life of one of your own.

Cancer is the great equalizer, and few families escape its reach. I felt ashamed today when I read about a 7th annual event benefiting children with cancer. Has news of the event crossed my path in years past, but only now raised a red flag because of our own family’s journey?

Do we only listen when something affects those within our own small circles of caring?

Families facing cancer listen for all kinds of things. Phone calls from physicians sharing test results. Children crying for comfort after enduring side effects of chemotherapy. Supportive words from friends, and sometimes strangers.

A pediatric cancer patient at Phoenix Children's Hospital (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Children's Hospital)

This Monday night you can listen for the many children and teens facing cancer — by attending a benefit concert presented by Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts at Velda Rose Methodist Church in Mesa.

The concert is a labor of love organized by CGCC faculty member J. Edmund Hughes, D.M.A. Hughes directs the CGCC College Singers Choir and teaches music theory and aural perception.

Hughes’ daughter Allie was diagnosed at age 16 with leukemia and lymphoma — but “beat the cancer through treatment and support at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”

Monday’s event is the seventh such concert “to thank Phoenix Children’s Hospital and all the excellent work they do to save children’s lives.”

The April 11 concert starts at 7pm and features five choral groups from the East Valley — the CGCC College Singers, the CGCC Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Red Mountain High School La Camarata, Mesa High School Chamber Singers and Corona Del Sol High School Jaztecs.

Although the concert is free, “goodwill offerings” to benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital will be accepted.

I hope you never hear the footsteps of pediatric cancer at your own door. But I assure you, it knocks more frequently and frighteningly than many of us ever imagine.

And attending Monday night’s concert is a meaningful way to let those living with cancer know that you’re listening — to the music, and for the sweet sound of a cure.

–Lynn

Note: Velda Rose Methodist Church is located at 5540 E. Main St. in Mesa.

Coming up: Student art exhibits at Valley community colleges

Update: I’m happy to share the good news from Rhonda Fuhrmann with CGCC — the event had a great turnout and they raised more than $1,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital!

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A week of firsts

A favorite photo from Lizabeth's recent East coast travels

A favorite photo from Lizabeth's recent East coast travels

My 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth recently finished the East coast leg of her college theater program auditions — and had just one day at home (and school) before traveling to auditions in Western states.

Before heading off to school between trips, she presented me with gifts she’d chosen at the NBC store. Lizabeth is a third generation Arizonan whose grandmother once worked for NBC in NYC.

They’re humble gifts in terms of monetary value, which is a good thing for parents soon to have three children in college — but they’re rich in meaning.

The first is a magnet with the beaming Gilda Radner in all her SNL “Roseanne Rosannadanna” glory. Perhaps now Lizabeth understands all my references to the character during my many “big hair” days.

The second is a black coffee cup — an homage to a love affair ended too suddenly with wordsmith and advocate for the everyman Keith Olbermann. It’s a “Countdown” cup with quips like “Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?”

Interesting timing considering that I shot off an e-mail just the other night to the broadcaster whose show fills the once upon a time “Countdown” hour. He’d apologized for offending folks with a piece on “sports socialism” — which I consider a commentary of true genius.

I ponder the fate of Valley arts in education every time I drive by a huge sports field full of bright lights long after players have gone home for the day. Would that our schools had performing arts centers even half that glorious.

But my letter to MSNBC suggested that another apology might be in order — from broadcaster Ed Schultz, who stigmatizes people with mental illness during every single episode with a segment called “Psycho Talk.”

That’s no “first,” of course, since it happens countless times a day over the airwaves and in everyday conversations. So let me return to another “first” I was recently delighted to find.

My mother-in-law deserves the credit for this one — a little book from the editors of New York magazine, titled “My First New York” which she first found at the local “Anthropologie” store. (Who knew grandmothers shopped such hip locales?)

Its preface notes that “the book started out as a magazine feature that, like the city it celebrated, soon grew a bit crowded for its size.”

A bit like that first outing with Lizabeth to see a Broadway show touring at ASU Gammage in Tempe — which has snowballed into her full-blown love affair with acting and musical theater (and all things NYC).

“My First New York” shares the early NYC encounters of dozens of folks now famous — including artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians, comedians, writers, choreographers and more.

Think Paul Taylor, Tommy Tune, Liza Minelli, Tom Wolfe, Judy Collins, Chuck Close, Ira Glass, Audra Mcdonald and Michael Lucas (best that the kids not know about this last one).

We got another first this same week — of the medical variety. I remarked while chatting with a source for a print piece recently that my kids have seen docs in nearly every medical specialty except oncology. But that’s no longer the case.

In lighter moments, I can snag a glimpse at the Roseanne Rosannadanna phrase that now graces my refrigerator door: “It just goes to show you, it’s always something.”

But as anyone whose children have faced serious illness can tell you, cancer is no laughing matter. It brings too many “firsts” families wish they never had to face.

As I ponder the many firsts that have recently come our way — from the delightful to the dreadful — I’m hoping with all my heart that you’re treasuring every tender first for your own growing family.

First smiles. First steps. First words.

First fingerpainting. First day of school.

First dance class. First music recital. First theater outing.

These are the firsts that give us courage to face the future.

— Lynn

Note: Gilda Radner lost her life to ovarian cancer, but her journey has inspired countless others — including “Gilda’s Club.” Click here to learn about the “Noogieland” program for children living with cancer. Click here for information on the 20th anniversary release of Radner’s memoir titled “It’s Always Something.”

Coming up: Building bridges

Make an art teacher’s day!

Small gifts of time, talent or financial resources can make a big difference in school arts programs — especially when we all pitch in. Enjoy supporting  arts learning at your child’s school in one or more of the following ways:

Research, plan and/or chaperone for arts-related field trips

"Kate's Flower" by Kate M., Age 5

Volunteer to create/install bulletin boards or other exhibit spaces

Donate arts-related books or other media materials to the school library

Attend school arts performances — even when your child is not performing

Pay (or offer to simply do the shopping) for arts-related supplies

Invite friends, family and neighbors to school art exhibits and performances

Share information on arts events and organizations happening in the community with school art teachers

Volunteer to assist with art projects in the classroom (and school clubs)

Donate funds dedicated to professional development for arts teachers

"Lion's Heart" by Gabriel C., Age 7

Volunteer to plan, coordinate and/or execute art exhibits and other events

Suggest community partnerships that might benefit schools and businesses/other organizations

Donate arts-related items you’re no longer using at home (such as musical instruments)

Offer to fund an arts-related field tip to visit a museum or see a theater, dance or music performance

Talk to art students about your own arts-related interests, hobbies or career

"Shy Bear" by Isaiah G., Age 7

Donate art storage items such as cabinets, shelves and crates

Volunteer time to sew costumes, paint sets and more

Stay informed about arts education issues and let legislators know the arts matter in our schools

Support creative play at home with time, space and materials for making visual art, theater and more

Give arts-related gifts such as subscriptions to arts magazines dealing with teacher areas of interest

Help arts teachers develop and share their wish lists of needed materials

Photograph student art to display on the school website

"Happy Flower" by Eilene, Age 12

Volunteer to read arts-related books during storytimes

Share interesting articles you come across about arts news, education, policy and more

Donate gift cards teachers can use at art supply stores

Collect supplies arts teachers are looking for (such as newspapers for paper mache)

Volunteer to arrange guest speakers/guest performers in the arts

Let administrators and board members know you value arts education

"Cutout Snowflake" by Toby M., Age 7

When in doubt, just ask. And remember to thank and compliment your child’s art teachers when you admire their work. Encouragement and appreciation can be the finest gifts of all.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re an arts teacher or parent with other ideas and suggestions on supporting school arts programs, please share them with fellow readers in the comment section below

Coming up: Arts camps for fall/winter break

Artwork featured in this post is from the PCH Kids Art collection, available through Phoenix Children’s Hospital at www.pchkidsart.com. The collection includes art prints, all occasion cards, holiday cards and more — with proceeds benefiting the PCH Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.