Finding a match: Why bone marrow donors are so important

Jake and his mom.

Jake and his mom

Are you a donor? I am. I regularly donate blood, and I’m proud to show off the orange sticker on my driver’s license that says I’m willing to be an organ donor. But there’s another way you can donate life to someone in need. You also can be a bone marrow donor.

Bone marrow transplants aren’t just for cancer, they’re for a whole group of people with non-cancerous diseases. I recently had the pleasure of meeting a little guy from San Francisco who personally knows how important bone marrow donors really are. Jake is 5 years old, and he’s been diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood disorder where the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells. To put it simply, this can …Continue reading →

Helping children beat brain cancer: Why I love my job

I have been working as a pediatric nurse for over 25 years and have done a variety of jobs. I recently started working in the MACC Fund Center, caring for children who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

These children have complex needs and often require a variety of specialists to help care for them. I love the fact that I work with a team of people who look out for the best interests of these very special kids and their families. Working with this multidisciplinary …Continue reading →

Modern career day: Using technology to connect with students

Dr. Thakar connects with a seventh grade class via Skype.

Dr. Thakar connects with a seventh grade class via Skype.

Recently, with the help of Skype, I met Gloria Roschke and her seventh grade class from the Milwaukee Academy of Science. The students attending this magnet school are on a path to pursue higher education in the field of science. As a class project, they were learning about childhood diseases and asked if I would speak to them as a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

I was impressed by their questions, from “What is the most common cancer in kids?” to “What is chemotherapy and does it hurt?” These …Continue reading →

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin raises the bar in pediatric cancer treatment and research

It’s not every day that a pediatric Phase 1 Clinical Trial Center opens in Wisconsin. In fact, the Oncology Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the only Children’s Oncology Group Phase 1 and Pilot Consortium in the entire state and one of only 21 centers in the world. That puts us in an elite group of pediatric cancer programs and raises the bar for research in the state.

So what does this really mean for the children and families who come through our doors? …Continue reading this post

Donate Life

Are you looking for that extra special present to give someone?
 Well how about giving up a little bit of yourself, or more specifically one of your organs, your blood or marrow?

Becoming an organ, blood or marrow donor holds the promise of life for thousands of patients with life-threatening conditions and diseases. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has seen the impact that organ donation can have for children and families awaiting a transplant. We perform heart, liver and kidney transplants. Many of our children wait …Continue reading →

What would you do?

Everyone at the hospital knows me as a huge and vocal sports fan. So when the Milwaukee Bucks qualified for the playoffs this year, I had to do something to celebrate with the patients I see in the MACC Fund Center every day.

Check out my video to see what I did. I did this to give our patients a chance to laugh, have fun and be part of the excitement that comes with having our home team in the playoffs. I did it to raise awareness about the upcoming Miracle Marathon, which impacts the …Continue reading →

A headache turns into crisis

Leo MontemurroOur son Leo told us he had a headache three days in a row upon waking up. My husband, a family practice physician, told me that children don’t have headaches and on day three, had Leo go for a CT scan. Our world turned around when we saw a tumor that was one-third the size of the back of his brain. It needed to be taken out immediately.

Sept. 2, 2009, was when our nightmare began. Leo underwent a seven-hour surgery. The surgeon came out after just a few hours to tell us that the frozen section of Leo’s tumor revealed that he had medulloblastoma. This type of brain tumor only affects 500 children per year. Our Leo had gone from a healthy boy starting school to a boy who could no longer turn over in bed due to weakness and lack of coordination caused by the tumor.

…Continue reading →