Choco’s Gratitude Tour: The Greatest Hits

Choco Pillow Framed_square
This Choco Bear pillow was placed inside the 1964 time capsule. Read the blog post to see what else was included

When I began my gratitude tour last October to help celebrate CHOC’s 50th anniversary, I had no idea that I’d meet so many cool people and see so much fun stuff.

I’ve had a blast making my way around the hospital, meeting new people and blogging about my experiences! And even better, once my 50-week tour ends next month, I’ll always have these posts to read again and remember all these awesome times.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite posts from this past year:

CHOC Campus 1964
Here’s CHOC in its early days. Read this post to learn how the hospital campus has evolved in 50 years.

Sing-a-long: The Choco Bear Song: Did you know I have my very own song? Read this post to learn the lyrics and sing along with me.

CHOC Children’s Campus: Then and Now: This post was a blast from the past! Read to learn about how CHOC’s campus has changed in the last half century.

Choco Bear’s Evolving Style: I’ve had quite a few looks since 1964. This post shows photographs of yours truly throughout the years.

Inside CHOC’s 1964 Time Capsule: CHOC staff hid a time capsule to commemorate the hospital’s opening in 1964. Read this post to see what was buried inside.  

Inside CHOC’s 1993 Time Capsule: This post gave an inside look at what CHOC tucked inside its second time capsule.

During my tour, I’ve also met many really neat people. Let me introduce you to some of the new friends I made this year:

photo-67
Meet Parker, one of my new friends I met this year. Read this post to learn more about the graduate from CHOC’s Small Baby Unit.

Parker: Meet Parker, a graduate of CHOC’s Small Baby Unit, a special part of the neonatal intensive care unit dedicated to the care of micro-preemies. When we first met, she had just celebrated her first birthday.

Bill: Bill received treatment for leukemia at CHOC in the 1970s, and went on to become a hospital chaplain in Orange County.

Josh: This young man was treated at CHOC for childhood allergies and asthma. Josh was so inspired that he became a pediatrician and performed his residency here at CHOC.

IMAGE_2
Meet Amy and Emily, two sisters who were treated at CHOC.

Amy and Emily: These ladies are sisters who both underwent treatment at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. They are both very accomplished and so inspiring.

You can check out more posts like these from my gratitude tour at choc.org/thxchoc and look for more in coming weeks. We still have some more time until CHOC’s big day on Oct. 4, so you can bet I’ll be making the most of it.

Thank you for reading!

 

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.”

Related articles:

 

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.

Related articles:

  • CHOC Patient Inspired to Become CHOC Doc
    At 6 years old, Vanessa Avina was more interested in viewing the monitor for her echocardiography (heart ultrasound) than watching a cartoon during her doctor’s visits. Her CHOC pediatric cardiologist ...
  • CHOC Walk in the Park: Justin’s Helpers
    As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, CHOC “Walk in the Park” has raised more than $24 million to fund education, research and adoption and utilization of the latest technologies to ...
  • A Bright Future: Ian and Micah’s Story
    Even though I’ve been hanging around CHOC for a long time now, I am continually surprised by the courage, tenacity and strength of the patients I meet. It’s especially gratifying ...

 

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

Related articles: