Homework Help for Parents

It’s a given that some children will always hate doing homework no matter what parents say or do. But these suggestions should help with the battle between study and TV.

• Establish a nonnegotiable, daily homework time. A child should read or work on a personal project on days no homework is assigned.
• Establish a quiet place for study that works best for your child. Some children do as well on the living-room floor as they do at a desk in the bedroom.
• Ask about assignments and whether your child understands them. Help if necessary, but don’t do the work.
• Always show interest in your child’s education. Don’t ask, “How was school?” You’re likely to get little more than “OK.” Instead, ask about the day’s math lesson or problems on a dreaded test. Know the books being read, the papers being written, and the projects being assigned.  (Back-to-school night is a great opportunity for you to ask your child’s teacher about expectations for homework – what kind of work, how much time should be devoted a week, etc.)

For more helpful tips, visit www.choc.org.

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Hit the Road Safely this Holiday Weekend

Taking a road trip can be a fun way for the family to spend a holiday weekend together. But it also can make for antsy passengers if they don’t have enough to keep them entertained. Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and content on the road this Labor Day weekend.

• Keep a first aid kit on hand hat contains antacids, throat lozenges, antiseptic cream, bandages, antibacterial wipes, insect repellant, sunscreen and aloe gel for sunburns. You also may want to include decongestants or antihistamines for allergies. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications family members regularly take.
• Stock up on plenty of nutritious snacks and drinks to supplement meal stops. Nonperishable items make the best and safest road food. Be sure to include water. Keeping your passengers hydrated will help them avoid fatigue and light-headedness.
• Bring a “fun bag” stuffed with favorite books, games, and other items your kids enjoy.
• Make sure your car is running well to avoid any roadside emergencies. Have your car checked for necessary repairs and, if necessary, have it serviced before leaving. Pack an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, flares and equipment for changing a tire, just in case.

Hope you and your loved ones enjoy a memorable – and safe – road trip!

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Tina Templeman, Clinical Research Nurse

In 2002, Tina Templeman began her career at CHOC Children’s as a bedside nurse on the oncology unit. While working with patients, Tina helped to create and implement the hospital’s online charting system. She was involved with teaching the charting system to new CHOC employees and physicians through the Clinical Education Department.

In 2008, Tina took on her current position as the clinical research nurse coordinator for the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program. Tina works directly with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) to find open protocols for new patients. Once an appropriate treatment is found for the patient based on his or her cancer, stage and other eligibility requirements, Tina maintains the patient’s treatment plan and schedules.

“When I was a bedside nurse, I was very task oriented. I did not always understand why one patient was treated according to a certain protocol and another patient with the same diagnosis was treated on another,” Tina said. “Being part of this research team, I now know why. I am now part of the ‘big picture’ of care and get to be part of the process of deciding which treatment is best for a patient.”

While Tina’s job has taken her away from working in the clinic or at the bedside every day, she still gets to work one-on-one with patients when collecting data or blood samples for COG studies.

“I love my job because I still get to work directly with patients but also have the opportunities to work hard behind the scenes and be part of treatment outcomes,” Tina said. “The children we treat have these starry innocent little eyes that just melt my heart. They deserve a team of people to work hard for them to help manage their disease. I am very proud to be part of the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program.”

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Prevent Heat Illness and Injury

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently offered new guidelines to prevent heat illness and injury in young athletes. Before your kids start training for fall sports, please be sure to check out the following recommendations for those hot, humid days. By following the proper guidelines, you can ensure you and your athlete have a great – and safe – season!

• Ensure trained staff are available on-site to monitor for and promptly treat heat illness.
• Educate your children on how to prepare for the heat to improve safety and reduce the risk for heat illness.
• Allow children to gradually adapt to physical activity in the heat.
• Offer time for, and encourage sufficient fluid intake before, during and after exercise.
• Modify activity given the heat and limitations of individual athletes.
• Provide rest periods of at least two hours between same-day contests in warm to hot weather.
• Limit participation of children who have had a recent illness or have other risk factors that would reduce exercise-heat tolerance.

For more on this topic, please visit CHOC’s pediatric health library at: http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?PageID=P02822

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Janet Hager, Case Coordinator

Janet Hager is case coordinator for the After Cancer Treatment Survivorship (ACTS) Program. After working in several different areas of the hospital for more than 30 years, she found her home in the Cancer Institute.

“I primarily worked with cancer patients many years ago when I worked in the ambulatory care clinic,” Janet said. “I felt drawn to working with oncology patients ever since. When the case coordinator position in the After Cancer Treatment Survivorship Program became available in 2002, I knew that it was the right move for me.”

Janet and the rest of the ACTS team have dedicated themselves to helping cancer survivors navigate life after treatment.

“It is very gratifying when we see our patients ‘graduate’ to their adult doctors,” Janet said. “Our team of doctors, nurses, and social workers couldn’t be more proud of our patients when we see that they have become savvy healthcare consumers and know how to advocate for their future health.”

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Emma and Ryan Find Special Bond at CHOC

When Samantha’s daughter, Ryan, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age 5, she wasn’t sure who would understand what they were going through. Following her diagnosis, Ryan was admitted to the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, a place she would call home for the next five weeks. Little did Ryan know that after only one day at CHOC, she would gain a friendship that will last a lifetime.

At the same time, Leigh Anne’s 5-year-old daughter, Emma, was undergoing treatment at CHOC for ALL. Samantha and Leigh Anne would huddle outside their children’s rooms in the middle of the night, drinking coffee and forming support groups.

The day Ryan and Emma met was very memorable to both girls; it was Ryan’s first day and Emma’s last. It was during this time that Ryan and Emma quickly bonded over their diagnosis. The girls would hold hands and walk the halls together, whispering about their doctors and what they hoped to get from the prize chest. According to their mothers, there was an intrinsic understanding between the two.

“The girls were like kindred spirits; they felt more comfortable around each other, which made receiving treatment easier,” noted Samantha. “It’s like, ‘she has a port, and so do I. She has no hair, neither do I.’ Commonality forms a bond.”

“They felt as though this was their journey and they were in it together,” added Leigh Anne.

Today, both girls are on the path to recovery and are receiving routine checkups and treatment at CHOC Children’s Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI), where they even plan their appointments around each other so they can spend time together. Although they only spent one day together during their time at CHOC, it’s been over a year since that initial meeting, and they still have a special bond.

Emma and Ryan, as well as their moms, will always be grateful for the life-saving treatment they received at CHOC, and thankful for the life-long friendship they made because of it.

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Julene Schenk, Case Coordinator

For more than 20 years Julene Schenk has been caring for cancer patients at CHOC Children’s. She began her career as a bedside nurse and charge nurse in the hospital’s oncology division and became a case coordinator in 2008. As the neuro-oncology case coordinator, Julene works one-on-one with patients and their families to help them throughout their cancer treatments.

“I love working with my patients and their families,” Julene said. “I have the opportunity to teach them all about their treatment process and chemotherapy regimens. I also advocate for them and help to alleviate any stressful problems that may come up along the way.” Julene also works with the family’s insurance company to ensure that treatment and accompanying therapy are covered.

The Neuro-oncology Treatment Program at the Cancer Institute uses a team approach to treat patients. The team, led by Violet Shen, M.D., is made up of multidisciplinary specialists including a social worker, clinical research nurse, neuropsychologist, nurse practitioner, dietitian and child life specialists.

“Our team approach makes the care we provide exceptional,” Julene said. “We work very closely with one another and have a great rapport. The most important people on any patient’s treatment team are the family. Because a patient’s family is that child’s best expert, parents and caregivers are involved in every step of the treatment process.”

To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here: http://www.choc.org/cancer/index.cfm

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Sharon Bergeron, Research Educator

The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and this month we are proud to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who make the Cancer Institute great.  All of our Associates, from our oncologists to our physical therapists to our child life specialists, are specially trained to provide our pediatric cancer patients with the support they need during and after treatment.

At the Cancer Institute at CHOC, our nurses receive ongoing education on the unique medical, emotional and social needs of our patients. Sharon Bergeron, RN, BSN, CPON, leads the charge in ensuring our nurses are equipped with the latest information and tools needed to provide our patients with the superior care CHOC is known for. As a research educator, Sharon is dedicated to providing our nurses with the latest news and information available on pediatric cancer treatment, including our cutting-edge clinical trials.

“Over a span of almost 30 years, I have been deeply touched by the many patients and families I have helped cared for through the ups and downs of the cancer treatment journey,” Sharon said.  “It is with this knowledge and experience that I teach other pediatric hematology/oncology nurses what I know about caring for these children so that I can create an environment that allows nurses to provide the highest level of nursing care and flourish in their role. In addition, I work hard to provide an educational environment that encourages nurses to demonstrate independent and critical thinking skills so that they can deliver care yielding excellent patient outcomes and a high level of job satisfaction.”

CHOC Children’s is a magnet hospital, which means that nurses are able to work in an environment that supports the nursing practice and provides them access to the tools to flourish in their careers. We empower our nurses to focus on professional autonomy, decision making at the bedside and obtaining and maintaining nursing certification in their specialty.

Sharon’s role as a pediatric hematology/oncology expert and educator is deeply valued both at the Cancer Institute and in the medical community at large.  She is actively involved with Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), the Southern California Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (SCAPHON) and the Children’s Oncology Group.  She is also editor of APHON Counts, a national newsletter publication for the APHON membership and received the Kathy Ruccione Founder Award for Excellence in Pediatric Oncology Nursing in May 2011.

To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here: