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Spotlight on CHKD's Cancer and Blood Disorders Team

A teenage girl in crippling pain from sickle cell disease comes to CHKD to seek relief.

Down the hall, worried parents look for hope after hearing the words, “Your child has cancer.”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a holiday or during a pandemic. CHKD’s hematology and oncology program is always open, taking care of any child in Hampton Roads who needs their expertise. As we recognize September as childhood cancer and sickle cell disease awareness month, we also want to thank our incredible hematology and oncology team who share their passion for taking care of patients all year round.

“When your child is diagnosed with cancer and treated by the hematology and oncology program at CHKD - you expect them to be expert healthcare workers who will work tirelessly to cure their patients,” says Kelly Davis, whose son was treated for a cancerous brain tumor in 2019. “What you don’t realize is that their dedication, passion, and love go far beyond the walls of the hospital. They participate in dodgeball tournaments arranged by cancer families to raise money for research. They show up to fish at the Virginia Beach pier with new and old patients when a cancer organization invites them. They use their personal time to light candles with families during memorials. Everything they do is for the community because every child they treat is a beloved part of it.”

Each year, more than 60 children at CHKD are diagnosed with cancer. For local families, the access to lifesaving care within a short distance from their homes and workplaces can make an incredibly tough journey a little bit easier.

The hematology and oncology program follows about 500 childhood cancer patients, 500 children with sickle cell disease, and 300 patients with bleeding disorders. Its multidisciplinary team includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nurse assistants, medical assistants, social workers, child life specialists, pharmacists, case managers, education consultants, a dietician, and a chaplain.

The program also has clinical research nurses and research associates who work closely with the medical team to offer clinical research trials to childhood cancer patients. Patients can also receive treatments such as stem cell transplants.

Children receiving outpatient care are treated in the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The clinic features large, restful infusion chairs as well as areas where kids can play games and visit therapy dogs.

Many patients with sickle cell disease have been coming to CHKD since they were first diagnosed at birth. Mauriya Yancey, 23, is one of them. Yancey says she’s grateful for the care she’s received over the years especially in 2017 when she was hospitalized for weeks after she had a delayed hemolytic transfusion reaction – a serious complication that can occur after a blood transfusion. She credits her doctors at CHKD for reversing the reaction and saving her life.

“I love CHKD,” she says. “They are the reason I am still here.”

CHKD has been working hard to make patients as comfortable as possible while going through treatment. In 2019, CHKD opened a new hematology and oncology inpatient unit designed to give families the privacy and support they need during their child’s treatment.

The inpatient unit features its own playroom, so patients don’t have to go far to take a break from their treatment. Here, child life specialists often use play to help children cope with the anxiety and stress they may experience when staying in the hospital.

For Darryl and Courtney Addison of Chesapeake, CHKD’s inpatient unit became a home away from home when their youngest son, Cayden, spent weeks undergoing treatment for leukemia.

“We’re so grateful to CHKD,” says Darryl. “The doctors have been amazing. A lot of people don’t understand what goes on inside these walls. You don’t really know until someone you love is in here, or you are.”

About CHKD

About CHKD  Get pediatric health news, health tips, and more from the region's most trusted name in pediatric healthcare. Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters is a network of pediatric healthcare services in more than 40 locations that stretch from Williamsburg to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and Virginia's only comprehensive freestanding pediatric hospital. Meet our doctors here.

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