A Bright Future: Bryan’s Story

I count myself as one lucky bear for being a part of the CHOC Children’s family. Ever since the doctors and nurses patched me up after my unfortunate fall, I have never wanted to be too far from this wonderful facility and the caring staff. And, guess what?  I am not alone. During my 50-week gratitude tour, I have met so many people who have bright future’s thanks to CHOC. Bryan is just one of them. Read his story to learn more.

When he was 10 years old, Bryan Mundia spent the majority of his time with physicians and nurses.Bryan Mundia

He suffered from a severe case of reflux; one that threatened his kidneys. Following a two-week stay for observation at CHOC Children’s Hospital, he underwent surgery to repair the valve between his ureter and bladder.

While most young boys would choose to put the hospital experience quickly behind them to focus on other pastimes, Bryan couldn’t let go. He had a strong desire to give back to CHOC.

Some 20 years later, Bryan is doing just that.

“My experience with CHOC changed my perspective on hospitals,” recalls Bryan. “I remember how friendly everyone was, from the doctors and nurses to the candy stripers. I remember playing video games – definitely not something I had expected prior to being admitted.”

Bryan speaks of his experience at CHOC with pride.  It was a life-changing event for me, he says.

As soon as he was able, Bryan became a hospital volunteer. His wife, Katie, and their dog, Molly, who is a certified pet therapy dog, are also volunteers, making it a family affair. It didn’t take long for Bryan to realize he wanted to do something even more.  He made the decision to change careers, from land surveyor to the media programs coordinator for Seacrest Studios at CHOC.

In his new role, Bryan manages the multi-media broadcast center, which provides patients with the unique opportunity to engage in activities related to TV, radio and new media.  He, along with his energetic team of interns and volunteers, provides a positive experience for patients and their siblings – one they likely didn’t expect they’d get when being admitted to the hospital.  Bryan can certainly relate to that!

“I know, from personal experience, the impact this hospital has on children and their families.  I am so proud to be a part of CHOC and try to give back in this way,” says Bryan.

 More stories about CHOC patients:

  • 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: 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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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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