Here at CHEO a world-class team of professionals is making the health and well-being of this community their first priority. CHEO has the brightest researchers uncovering better options to combat illness, dedicated doctors employing the best individual treatment plans for their patients and nurses perfecting the most gentle ways to administer medications and deliver care. It’s your support that makes all of this, and so much more, possible. At the CHEO Foundation our promise is to ensure your funds are hard at work helping all of CHEO’s healthcare providers do their best. Please read on to learn how your CN Cycle for CHEO donation is helping the oncology patients of today and tomorrow.
Here are some examples of how your funds are having an impact:
Providing critical equipment for oncology care
During the course of their treatments, oncology patients often need lumbar punctures (LPs) to deliver chemotherapy into the spinal fluid. The LP uses a needle inserted in the lower back to access the fluid that circulates around the brain and spinal cord. This year, community support helped CHEO purchase an ultrasound machine that guides the needle used in lumbar punctures, decreasing the number of needle pokes, the duration of the procedure and the sedation and recovery time required.
Providing continuity of care and long-term treatment
The CHEO oncology team is proud to make themselves available to patients and families whenever they need them. Emilie, a nurse practitioner who works in Hematology/Oncology and may spend anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours with patients every day describes the relationship between the kids and caregivers this way: “From the day they are diagnosed, until they are finished with CHEO, it’s their decision…we’re not going anywhere, we’ll be with you all through your life.” Emilie describes how important it is to take the time to meet the needs across different age groups and in particular take time to focus on communication with adolescents, ensuring youth have the chance to understand, ask their own questions and be included in decision-making. “A youth’s worries are not the same as their parents, they need to have a chance to speak to their concerns. Body image can be as important as cancer in their life. They need to feel heard.” It’s thanks to community support that CHEO’s oncology programs are able to provide this level of service.
Funding oncology research
In the spring of 2019, CHEO officially partnered with the Terry Fox PROFYLE Program. This national program involving over 30 pediatric cancer research and funding organizations has joined forces to give children, adolescents and young adults who are out of conventional treatment options another chance to beat their cancer. Each qualifying patient from CHEO has access to national expertise in molecular tumour profiling, sequencing, genomic and clinical interpretation of the data and potential alternative treatment options and clinical trials information.
Thanks to donor support, 14 CHEO patients were enrolled in the PROFYLE Program between August 2019 and August 2020. These were patients whose cancers had relapsed, had metastatic disease or exhibited difficult to treat primary tumours for whom first line treatments were known to have minimal effectiveness. This work was deemed so critical that it was granted special permission to continue in March 2020, despite the closure of many other hospital and research programs as a result of government mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an exciting development, CHEO patients participating in PROFYLE now have the option to consent to the model systems aspect of this program. Either a solid (sarcoma, neuroblastoma) or a liquid (leukemia) tumour sample can be donated to the Berman Lab located in the CHEO Research Institute for transplantation into larval zebrafish to assess rapid drug response data. The hope is to impact therapeutic decisions for a patient, thereby personalizing their cancer treatment. Responses to targeted drugs, specifically inhibition of cancer cell growth and spread, can be assessed within days simply by adding the drugs to the water in which the zebrafish larvae are bathed. This data will ultimately be reported to the PROFYLE Molecular Tumor Board and the attending physician to potentially impact treatment decisions for that specific patient.
These are huge strides. Ground-breaking work is happening right here at CHEO. With your generous contributions and the support of our community, we will continue to make discoveries to improve the lives of CHEO’s patients and patients across Canada and around the world.
Providing support during the pandemic
During the pandemic, allowing a child to live his or her best life is still top priority, however protocols and research activities have had to adjust to the realities of the pandemic. With your support, CHEO has purchased additional technology so patients are able to stay connected to loved ones virtually and adapted temporarily to virtual care for 75% of visits that did not require procedures such as bloodwork, allowing for less travel, shorter visits (20 mins compared to hours), multiple households able to participate in the discussion, while still being able to see and connect with the clinicians. Months later, virtual care remains an active model of service in the aftercare clinic.