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1 year of JPCH: New oncology unit improving quality of care for kids with cancer

Learning that your child has cancer is one of the scariest moments a parent will ever face – one that generates feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

Weston

That moment happened for Shelby when she found out her son Weston was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2019.

“It was really devastating. You never think cancer would happen to anyone close to you, then to hear it’s my son — that hit me hard,” recalled Shelby.

The four-year-old has spent time over the past year at the Day Medicine and Pediatric Oncology Unit at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, which helps Saskatchewan’s brave children and teens in their fight against cancer.

Weston is currently in the maintenance treatment phase to help keep the leukemia in remission. He takes chemotherapy medicines every night at home, and comes into the hospital monthly for check-ups and receives a lumbar puncture every three months to monitor for leukemia cells.

“I’m very thankful for Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. It’s colourful, kid-friendly and it’s not as scary looking like a hospital sometimes is. Weston isn’t as scared to go to the hospital now,” Shelby said.

In February, Weston and his family were the first recipients of the CIBC Pediatric Oncology Family Comfort Fund, which helps Saskatchewan families with children undergoing cancer treatments by providing financial support for non-medical expenses such as groceries, meals, lodging and parking. The fund also provides oncology-specific medical play equipment and port shirts for patients, which have zippers that allow for easier port access, making for more comfortable treatment sessions.

“I’ve received gift cards for groceries and gas to get to and from the hospital. The fund has really helped me out a lot and being a single mom, it goes a long way. It’s nice to know that support is there for my son,” said Shelby, a mom to four children.

As of Sept. 30, 2019, pediatric patients who previously received care at the oncology clinic at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre started receiving care at the new clinic in the Day Medicine and Pediatric Oncology Unit at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. The Unit is located on the main floor, close to the pediatric outpatient clinic, also known as the Les and Irene Dubé Centre of Care for Children.

“Having the pediatric oncology clinic in the same building as the pediatric inpatient area has been a huge asset for pediatric oncology patients. The move to JPCH has helped improve the quality of care with improved communication and coordination between the inpatient and outpatient departments as the hematology oncology patients are often navigating both systems,” said Dr. Roona Sinha, a pediatric hematologist oncologist.

Sinha said the inpatient spaces have been tremendous improvements to the psychological coping of families, as the new rooms allow for improved privacy and comfort at a time when families need it most.

Dr. Roona Sinha

“As a care team, we are also very excited that with having a recovery area right next to our procedure room, it allows for a much smoother recovery period after lumbar puncture and bone marrow procedures which are a standard part of the care. This has allowed for improved flow and less anxiety for the patients and families,” explained Sinha.

“We are grateful for the incredible generosity of our donors who have helped make the new Day Medicine and Oncology Unit a reality. Over the past year, this space has provided a comfortable and supportive environment for children and their families, as they go through exceptionally difficult times,” said Kristina Konchak, Director of Major Gifts with Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

You can make a difference by designating a donation to pediatric oncology at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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