Gold ribbons decorate the trees at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak in recognition of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Gold ribbons decorate the trees at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak in recognition of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Photo provided by Beaumont Health

‘Go gold’ for childhood cancer awareness

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 22, 2020


ROYAL OAK — While accidents are the leading cause of death in children, cancer is the No. 1 cause of death due to disease in children.

Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak has decked its trees and lawns with gold ribbons and yard signs and is encouraging the public to don their own gold — in person and on social media — to raise awareness about childhood cancer.

“While cancer is still more common in the adult population, we are making great strides in curing children and adolescents with cancer,” said Dr. Kate Gowans, chief of Beaumont Children’s Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. “Taking care of these kids and families is incredibly inspiring and rewarding.”

Gowans said her approach is to find out as much as possible about each individual patient and design a specialized treatment for the best results. New treatments offered at Beaumont Children’s, such as proton therapy and molecularly targeted therapy, help reduce harm.

“September is a month to increase awareness of these rare illnesses, because they truly are rare illnesses, and to keep the momentum going the rest of the year,” she said.

Lisa Muma, a nurse and coordinator of the Pediatric Long-Term Follow-up Clinic, works to provide care for pediatric patients into adolescence and adulthood after the completion of their cancer therapy.

Long-term health issues can arise from cancer treatments, such as cardiac and respiratory issues, vision and hearing problems, delayed growth, and development and learning disabilities.

Besides helping families with medical issues, the clinic also addresses concerns related to educational access, insurance and employability. Clinic team members include a pediatric oncologist, pediatric oncology nurse navigator, pediatric social worker, child psychologist and clinic dietitian.

Clinic founder and cancer specialist Dr. Charles Main helped create the Charles A. Main, M.D., Pediatric Cancer Survivor Scholarship Fund as a source for college scholarships supported by community donations.

The Gilbert Family Adolescent and Young Adult Program provides medical specialists, psychosocial services, financial counseling, and academic and mentor support for adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 26.

“Gold is the color for childhood cancer because children are pure gold,” Muma said. “Two-thirds of cancer survivors have some kind of delayed effort, and a quarter of those are pretty severe or life-threatening.”

Muma said the clinic has, to date, given out more than 200 scholarships amounting to more than $1 million.

“(We try to help out) with the extra stuff (parents) need. They’re not thinking ahead to college. They’re thinking about getting through the day,” she said. “It’s such a privilege to be able to follow these kids as they grow into adulthood.”

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