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Levine Children’s Hospital: We’re Doing All We Can to End Childhood Cancer

Content provided by Levine Children’s Hospital

Today, the 5-year survival rate for those with childhood cancers stands at more than 80 percent – up more than 20 points since the 1970s.

That’s encouraging news for families with children with cancer. But there’s still a long way to go, especially when funding for pediatric cancer remains low.

Here at Levine Children’s Hospital, we’re doing all we can to cure the incurable. We sat down with some of the cancer specialists at LCH to hear what excites them about cancer care here in the greater Charlotte area.

Personalized medicine. As part of the Beat Childhood Cancer initiative, LCH researchers are investigating tailored courses of chemotherapy based on a person’s individual genetic makeup. “We give you a personal answer, telling you what drugs may work for a specific tumor. For people who have gone through chemotherapy, that is a very unique thing,” says Javier Oesterheld, MD, medical director for pediatric hematology, oncology, and blood and marrow transplantation.

New technology for rare nerve cancer. LCH is building a dedicated lead-lined room to deliver a special kind of therapy called MIBG to treat neuroblastoma, a form of high-risk nerve cancer. We’ll be one of fewer than 20 centers in the United States to offer this type of therapy, says Dr. Oesterheld.

Dynamic approaches for blood and marrow transplantation. Replacing broken stem cells with healthy cells from a donor is one way to cure many types of cancer. We’re one of 12 institutions in the country studying a new technology that can help kids with cancer who have no other donors. “We have a number of kids who we’re helping save with this  technology, and we’re really privileged to be able to bring this top-level work here to Charlotte,” says Jeffrey Huo, MD, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation specialist.

Immunotherapies. Many new treatments for leukemia involve helping the body itself to fight off the cancerous cells. “We’re now able to trick the body’s own immune system into recognizing the leukemia cells as bad, so it can go and kill those cells,” says Joel Kaplan, MD, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist. “This type of research is one of the most cutting-edge things going on in the nation right now, and we’re contributing to those efforts here at LCH.”

Beyond new therapies, our doctors know that better treatment also includes providing the extra human touch – to be at our best when children are at their worst. “The science of cancer is always changing, which keeps us on our toes,” says Dr. Oesterheld. “But the idea of being able to get a child through probably the worst times of their lives – for us, that’s invaluable.”

2017 Sustaining Sponsor: PSL Source/Maxim Tickets

As we move into crunch time for our 10th Annual 5K/10K and Fun Run for Kids Cancer, we want to make sure we take the time to thank our sponsors who help make this event possible.  We have had several companies decide to partner with us for the entire year as a Sustaining Sponsor.  A Sustaining Sponsor is an annual sponsor of the Isabella Santos Foundation. Support from sponsors are what enable our continued level of success.

PSL Source/Maxim Tickets has supported ISF for years.  They consistently donate event/game tickets to the Isabella Santos Foundation for our auction and giveaways.  This year they stepped up as a 2017 sustaining sponsor in an effort to support us in fighting childhood cancer.

Check them out for sports and concert needs and buy and sell Carolina Panthers PSLs securely and hassle-free at PSLsource.com.

PSL SOURCE:  Buy and sell Carolina Panthers PSLs (Personal Seat License) and become a season ticket holder for the upcoming 2017 season, and every year after at Bank of America Stadium.

Benefits for buyers:

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Maxim Tickets – Looking to purchase single game tickets or season tickets for the Carolina Panthers? Visit maximtickets.com.  We offer a huge selection of Carolina Panthers tickets including Panther season ticket packages and Panther parking for the season.

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Maxim Tickets/PSL Source

Maxim Tickets has operated from Charlotte, NC for over a decade. As one of the industry’s premium independent broker of high-demand tickets, Maxim Tickets is known for a superior selection, great prices, and service. Memberships include the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

Her legacy…

June marks a significant date as it is the month that Isabella lost her fight to neuroblastoma. This year will be 5 years since we lost her to this horrible disease on June 28th, 2012. The Santos family has been through their ups and downs in dealing with losing a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. But as you have most likely noticed, they have persevered… and they lead the push to fight for kids with cancer in Isabella’s honor. This month we will be sharing both the happy and raw times as we celebrate Isabella’s spirt and the legacy she left behind.

Her legacy…

Santos Family

“I look at what she has accomplished in the last 5 years since I last saw her and it makes me so proud.  It makes me think that we really must have done something right.  All these years that we beat ourselves up on where we made a mistake or wrong turn that ultimately ended her life.  But, maybe all those decisions were the right ones because they brought us to this place we are now, to a place where her legacy is outliving her actual life.  It brings me to a place where somehow her death is making the world a better place for someone else.

This thought is something that helps me sleep at night because I know this is only the beginning.  All of those pieces of her may be slipping through my fingers in my own life, but it’s building something bigger than me.  She experienced all that pain, so that this wonderful thing could happen.  And maybe now I have to experience all the pain to keep allowing it to grow.  It’s the least I could do for her and I should feel honored to do it.

Not a day goes by where I don’t miss her.  I still can’t honestly say I wish this never happened to us even seeing all the good it has done.  But maybe that day is coming where I will understand it… I’m getting there.  I just wish she were here to witness it all alongside me.”  Isabella’s Mommy

While Isabella didn’t win her fight against neuroblastoma, you can honor her and help families and kids in the fight against theirs. For our 10 year anniversary and with a goal of $1,000,000 we are looking for 100 people to become part of ISF as a Sustaining Monthly Donor.

BECOME A SUSTAINING MONTHLY DONOR

MAKE A SINGLE DONATION

My gift to her…

June marks a significant date as it is the month that Isabella lost her fight to neuroblastoma. This year will be 5 years since we lost her to this horrible disease on June 28th, 2012. The Santos family has been through their ups and downs in dealing with losing a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. But as you have most likely noticed, they have persevered… and they lead the push to fight for kids with cancer in Isabella’s honor. This month we will be sharing both the happy and raw times as we celebrate Isabella’s spirt and the legacy she left behind. 

My gift to her…

Speech given by Grant Santos (Isabella’s Brother) at the 2nd annual Coffee for a Cure Events.

Isabella and Grant

“Hi, my name is Grant Santos and I am Isabella’s little brother.  Isabella was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma just 6 days after my 1stbirthday so I never really knew her without cancer.  My Mom and Dad tell me stories all the time about my life with her.  We did everything together and I brought so much comfort to her when no one else could.  I would come and visit her in the hospital and crawl right up in bed with her as we would watch movies and laugh while we ate dinner together in her bed.  I would walk around the hospital with her as Mom wheeled her IV pole up and down the hallways.  She would show me around and introduce me to everyone.   She was so proud of me.  We took so many trips together.  We loved going to Disney World and running from ride to ride as we got to meet every Disney Character you could imagine.  We had special days at with the Panthers and got to meet people like Steve Smith, Tony Stewart and more.  Our whole family moved to New York City for a couple of months with Isabella got cancer in her brain.  We stayed in an apartment that overlooked the city.  I would play trains all day long while I waited on Isabella to finish treatment, then she would come home and Mom would take us to the park and play for hours.  People would always look at Isabella in a weird way because she had a big scar on her bald head but I never even noticed it on her.  To me she was always beautiful.  For the years during Isabella’s treatment, I became her best friend.  She would always ask me to hold her hand when she would get her line put in her chest.  It was hard for me to watch, but I knew that she needed me and I would help her be strong.  Near the end of her life, she didn’t want to be around very many people.  But, I was always allowed to be around her.   She would let me crawl in bed with her and watch movies and rub her back.  She would ask about my day and I would tell her all the things I did and she would tell me about her day at home or in the hospital.  We would wrestle with Daddy and laugh and sing at night together before we crawled in bed each night.

Isabella and Grant

These are all stories that my Mom and Dad tell me.  But I don’t really remember them.  I’m thankful for pictures and videos that tell me this story too, and I hope one day these memories become more real to me.  I remember her red hair, and how she said my name “Graaaant” when she would call for me.  I remember she like Taylor Swift and Ariel and American Girl dolls.  I remember the day she died.  I was at a summer camp and my Grandma came to pick me up.  I remember coming into Mom and Dad’s room and she was asleep in their bed and I told her goodbye and that I loved her.  I remember going to Calvary for her funeral and that my cousins were there and Miss Chrissy read a poem.  But I don’t remember much more than that.

It’s crazy to think that we were best friends, but I can’t remember it.  But that is what pediatric cancer does.  It steals people from you.  It steals sons and daughters, it steals brothers and sisters, it steals best friends.  It also steals the possibility of creating memories.  Cancer stole my sister, my best friend and a lifetime of memories that we were supposed to make together.  We were supposed to be in high school together and be at each other’s college graduations and weddings.  We were supposed to be aunts and uncles to each others kids and our kids were going to be cousins who would go to the beach together.  We were supposed to be able to call each other and complain about Mom and Dad and have secrets between us that we would never tell them.  But none of that will happen.

Now, the only way I can be the best brother I can be is to bring her flowers to her site and talk to her in my mind.  But the other thing I can do is help to find a cure for the disease that took her from me.  My gift to her is to prevent someone else losing their best friend too.  She should still be here with me today, riding the bus to school, laughing, playing and fighting – the way that brothers and sisters were meant to be.  But she’s not.

I hope that you will give today in honor of my best friend and sister Isabella.  Together we can make a difference and stop this awful disease from taking one more kid from a family.  I know she is looking down on us and is hopefully proud of the brother that I’m still trying and will always be to be to her.  I miss her so much.”  -Isabella’s Brother, Grant

We can accomplish so much more if we fight cancer together.  Learn more about donating to the Isabella Santos Foundation.

How unfair her life has been, but how beautiful it has been as well…

June marks a significant date as it is the month that Isabella lost her fight to neuroblastoma. This year will be 5 years since we lost her to this horrible disease on June 28th, 2012. The Santos family has been through their ups and downs in dealing with losing a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. But as you have most likely noticed, they have persevered… and they lead the push to fight for kids with cancer in Isabella’s honor. This month we will be sharing both the happy and raw times as we celebrate Isabella’s spirt and the legacy she left behind.

How unfair her life has been, but how beautiful it has been as well…

“But as I laid her in my bed tonight, I knew that hospice was right.  She is trying for the last time to live.. but her body will soon lose the fight.  I feel like I’m coming to peace a bit with the fact that we are going to lose her soon.  The community of people supporting us doubles daily and her reach is growing nationwide.  It seems fitting for her as Isabella always thought that she was a celebrity her whole life, but just wasn’t sure why.  That point was made very clear today when my phone rang with a blocked number.. Taylor Swift​ was on the other side of my phone and she had heard of Isabella and her fight.  Isabella is a huge fan of hers and a month ago, she would of screamed bloody murder to hear her on the other side of the phone.  But, this disease is taking all the of things about Isabella that made her so wonderful.  It was all she could handle to just lay on the couch and listen to this woman she loves speak to her through the phone.  She could barely speak, she just looked at the phone with one eye closed as if she was trying to see Taylor in the phone somehow.  If you could of seen Isabella at her concert a couple of months ago, it would take your breathe away to see her now.  How just a couple of months and a horrible disease can steal more and more things from her every day.  Makes me so sad to see it.  Even the revolving door of loved ones who leave and I know they are thinking it is the last time they will ever see her.  This is my day.. my heartbreak, Isabella’s heartbreak, and heartbreak from everyone we come in contact with.  I can only think that through her life, so many are changed that it will make the difference.. maybe even save another child’s life.  Isn’t that what we all want?  Our life sacrifice. knowing it can save someone else’s?  That is an amazing gift.  One death for the sake of millions?  I know that is what Isabella would want in the end.  To know that because of her, another little girl will not have to miss her last day of kindergarten.  I selfishly wish that my daughter was the one being sparred.  That her last day of kindergarten tomorrow would be filled with laughing and running and playing.  Instead we head to the clinic for a full day of blood and platelets.  Another memory, stolen.  How unfair her life has been, but how beautiful it has been as well.”  -Isabella’s Mommy (June 7, 2012)

We can accomplish so much more if we fight cancer together.  Learn more about donating to the Isabella Santos Foundation.