Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Jenee Areeckal, MSW

While in the midst of treatment, social workers help patients and their families through the darkest moments by showing them how strong they can truly be, and Jenee Areeckal is one such social worker.  Working with the Cancer Institute’s bone and soft tissue sarcoma, solid tumor, and histiocytosis patients, she is committed to providing patients and their caregivers the support they need during their most vulnerable times.

“It is a blessing and an honor to help our families,” Jenee said. “Each child’s strength and perseverance is both amazing and inspiring. When I am working with a patient’s loved ones, I attempt to use that child’s strength and spirit to make the family stronger.”

Jenee, a three-time cancer survivor and an amputee due to osteogenic sarcoma, knows what it is like to live through and be treated for cancer as a teen and young adult. Today she uses her story to inspire her patients and families both during and after treatment.  She is proof that life after cancer can be wonderful and fulfilling.

“I hope that by seeing me work, patients have hope that it is possible to survive and thrive after cancer,” Jenee said.
The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and every Friday 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.

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

Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Dr. Marcos Di Pinto

The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and every Friday 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.

When most people think about cancer, they often forget about psychological side effects of the disease.  The psychological issues patients and families deal with when coping with cancer can be overwhelming. The Cancer Institute has a dedicated psychology team who works closely with patients and families to help them cope with the emotional and psychological stress of cancer.

Psychologists provide an initial consultation when the patient first meets with the Cancer Institute team, and provides assessments throughout the patient’s treatment. Our psychologists possess special expertise in diagnostic testing, therapy, and counseling for common emotional problems associated with cancer.  They assess and treats such issues as depression, anxiety, phobias (to medical procedures), anger, sleep difficulties, loss and grief, and behavioral problems. Moreover, they are available for consultations with parents, schools, physicians and other healthcare providers.

Marcos Di Pinto, Ph.D., is involved with each neuro-oncology patient at the Cancer Institute right from the start.  As a neuropsychologist, he works with patients and families to help them understand how cancer impacts brain development and function.  He continues working with patients throughout their treatment and with follow-up care in the years after treatment ends.

“I have a passion for working with children with tumors of the brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Di Pinto said.  “After doing my two-year residency caring for pediatric oncology patients, I knew that I had found my calling. Working at the Cancer Institute is wonderful because I get to work with amazing patients and their families.”

Slop That Sunscreen On!

Did you know that as much as 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18? In recognition of Sun Safety Week, be sure to check out these useful guidelines to lessen the risk of sun damage.

    • Slop It On — Apply 30 SPF sunscreen every day. Cover all exposed skin, including hands, ears and the back of the neck. Reapply after swimming or if your child perspires excessively.
    • Keep It Cool — Schedule outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
    • Cover Up — Outfit your children with broad brimmed hats and protective clothing that covers the arms and legs.
    • Protect Those Peepers — Choose real (not toy) sunglasses with polarized lenses for your children.
    • Babies Under 6 Months — A child is never too young for sunscreen. But it’s wise to keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Their thin skin can burn after just minutes in the sun.
    • Higher SPF — While there are sunscreens made particularly for babies and toddlers, the most important thing to remember is that the higher the SPF and UVA stars, the better.

Summer is almost here – enjoy! For more sun safety information, please click here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=522

Sports Supplements in the Youth Athlete

Do you have a young athlete at home? In recognition of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, please check out these important sports nutrition guidelines from our guest blogger, Shonda Brown, RD, CNSC, pediatric clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s:

Youth athletes are immersed in a competitive culture, which often encourages experimenting with performance enhancing supplements to gain that competitive edge over the opponent.  Professional & elite athletes are commonly depicted as supplement users and combined with the ease of purchase through the internet or health-food stores, sports supplements are becoming increasingly popular among our youth.

Unfortunately, the safety and efficacy of the majority of performance enhancing substances on the market are not supported by sound research, and there is a lack of regulation of the production and advertising of these supplements.  Because of the potential health risks involved in consuming sports supplements, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly condemns their use in children and adolescents.

When talking with a young athlete who is considering or already consuming sports supplements, it is best to provide candid information regarding the risks and benefits and educate on safe alternatives. The following outline a few important points to consider when discussing sports supplements with an athlete.

• The word “natural” does not = safe.
• Dietary supplements may be contaminated or contain undeclared ingredients.  They may also contain less or more of an ingredient than listed on the label.
• Dietary supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, the process is much different than the regulation from food or drugs.
• Manufacturers do not have to provide evidence that a product is safe or effective.  It is the FDA’s job to prove it’s unsafe in order to remove it from the market.
• Organizations that independently evaluate supplements for the quality and purity are:
a. National Science Foundation International (NSF)
b. United States Pharmacopeia (USP)

Companies who market sports supplements tout a  bigger, stronger, faster message with supplement use, yet nothing can take the place of sleep, proper nutrition and a good training program to maximize performance.

For additional information on sports supplements or nutrition counseling for performance, contact a CHOC Pediatric Sports Dietitian at 714-509-4572.

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