St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital devoted to “finding cures”

Kids are the focus at St. Jude Hospital

This month, Do You Know Cancer highlights the incredible work of doctors, researchers, and all staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, TN. Because September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, St. Jude’s was the obvious choice for this month’s cancer center profile.

Founded by entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962, St. Jude has become one of the premier treatment facilities for children with cancer and other illnesses. The hospital’s mission is simple:

“To advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.”

And they’ve done just that, for the last 48 years. The 5-Year Cancer Survival Rates, 1962 Vs. Present chart on their website is a perfect example of how the research conducted at St. Jude have led to pivotal breakthroughs in treatments that ultimately increase survival rates. In fact, the facility was ranked as the number one children’s cancer center in the country for 2010-11, and for the last five years has been named as one of the top ten places to work. In 2009, it was deemed the number one place to receive pediatric cancer care, and is designated as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center as of May, 2008.

What makes St. Jude unique is the range of services they offer to young patients and their families. The Child Life Program there, for example, is dedicated to decreasing the anxiety and worry experienced by new cancer patients through the work of what are called Child Life Specialists. These special people find age-appropriate ways to clarify to the patient what’s happening with their body and provide the patient with a better, less-scary idea of what to expect from their cancer treatment. Much of what a Child Life Specialist does with St. Jude patients involves playing with toys, drawing, arts and crafts and other therapeutic activities that allow the child to express themselves in a comfortable and stress-free environment. St. Jude has fifteen of these specialists who work with the kids in groups and individually.

There is also a place at St. Jude called the Linda R. Hajar Family Resource Center, where families of patients can go to relax and read, use the Internet, conduct research related to their child’s health condition, and just “take a break” from what they’re going through. For teenage patients, there’s the Teen Scene, a place reserved for those thirteen and older where hanging out with friends without any doctors, nurses, or parents. That’s right – it’s just for teen, and it’s a “No Doctor” zone! It’s here where teenage patients can do what they do best: socialize. There’s even an annual art show and formal dance at St. Jude!

And, of course, there’s the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, where finding ways to prevent and ultimately eradicate childhood cancer is the number one focus. Just browsing through the Cancer Center Research Highlights page gives you a good indication of the breakthrough research that’s conducted here.

This September, people are hoping to increase awareness of childhood cancer, but at St. Jude, this is the every-day mission.

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