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 →

Children’s Hospital patient, physicians featured on “Mystery Diagnosis”

Next Monday, Aug. 24, Discovery Health Channel will air a “Mystery Diagnosis” episode about one of our patients. Claire Mantey was diagnosed here at Children’s with a rare condition called lymphangiomatosis. The film crew spent several days at our hospital last winter, interviewing our physicians and recreating how Claire was diagnosed. The program airs at 9 p.m. We hope you’ll tune in.

…Continue reading →

Hope in a flash

flashesofhope2

Nurse Amy Schroeder, Executive Director Bill Owens and Nurse Julie Waldhart

Once a month, we hold a photo shoot at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin through the Flashes of Hope program. We turn one of the hospital classrooms into our own little studio – complete with a backdrop, special lighting and props (we have found that bubbles are a must). At each shoot there is a volunteer professional photographer, two volunteers and a make-up artist to help the girls and moms (occasionally a boy or dad) get ready for the camera. The mood is light and playful with lots of joking, smiling, laughter and perhaps a few tears here and there. We work hard to lift the patients out of their illnesses for at least a little while by giving them an opportunity to have fun in front of the camera and to just be kids. This all is free of charge for the families.

For some families, these pictures are the first opportunity for family portraits. For others, unfortunately, the photos may be their last. Flashes of Hope captures the beauty and innocence of each patient and family; creating memories they can hold onto forever. Flashes of Hope offers them a look back at the smiles and laughter their son or daughter still had while battling cancer, giving them hope for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Whether there is a teenager hugging you and thanking you for taking his picture with his sisters, or a father expressing his gratitude for the portraits that were taken of his son two weeks before he lost his courageous eight-year battle to cancer, we know that Flashes of Hope touches the hearts and lives of all who participate.

For more information on the Flashes of Hope national program please visit www.flashesofhope.org or flashesofhopemilwaukee.blogspot.com to see our beautiful Children’s Hospital patients. They inspire us each and every day.

— Julie Waldhart, RN, Hematology, Oncology and Transplant

Kids helping kids

Kids helping kids. You hear that phrase a lot. We at the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc.) often see this in action as kids reach out to help a child with cancer or a blood disorder. Here are just a few wonderful examples:

  • Shorewood High School’s “Shorewood Games,” held nearly every four years since 1988 when they were inspired to help a student with cancer named Gus. Special events galore, “Buzz Cuts” for boys and girls and fun between students and faculty helped raise more than $30,000 for the MACC Fund’s fight against childhood cancer and blood disorders. Kids helping kids.\
  • The Lake Country Charity Invitational golf event sponsored by Hartland Arrowhead High School includes many of Wisconsin’s finest high school golfers. Brandon, who graduated from high school in 2008 after battling cancer for six years, inspired the team before they teed off through a very emotional letter. He encouraged them to never take anything for granted and to be grateful for their health and for the chance to compete.

…Continue reading →

We invite you to ride for hope

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is teaming up for the MACC Fund by sponsoring a team in the annual MACC Fund Trek 100 Ride for Hope Saturday, June 6.

Honorary co-captain Peggy Troy, MSN, RN, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital and Health System, and I invite you to support this event by registering as a rider or volunteering at the Children’s Hospital-sponsored rest stop.

…Continue reading →

Beads of Courage strings together patients’ stories

“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk

I first heard about the Beads of Courage program a short while after I began as the interim patient care manager on the Hematology, Oncology and Transplant Unit (LINK). Not only did the staff express a strong interest in the program, but there was one particular father of a patient who advocated heavily for the inception of the program. He said to me, “I know that someday we may not continue to win the battle against cancer, but we always will have these beads to tell his story.” He continued to tell me how during the holidays, as various family members hosted holiday gatherings, they each displayed the beads in some way; on the Christmas tree, fireplace mantle or among the buffet.

…Continue reading →