Our health system treats children with cancer using a multidisciplinary approach that includes board-certified physicians, advanced practice providers, therapists, nurses, and child life specialists, among others, who focus on caring for patients and supporting their families through a journey that can span several years.
By Casandra Andrews
As friends and family members clapped and cheered, more than a dozen pediatric patients from USA Health Children's & Women's Hospital took part in a bell ringing ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to mark the end of their cancer treatment.
The day holds special meaning for many of the brave children, their parents, and caregivers, as it often marks the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. This year's ceremony allowed each patient an opportunity to ring a large bronze bell in the hospital's courtyard as they reunited with those who cared for them. Pediatric oncologists handed out silver bells to each child after they rang the bell.
Hamayun Imran, M.D., who leads the pediatric oncology and hematology program at Children’s & Women’s Hospital, said it’s a day he and his colleagues look forward to every year. “Seeing patients who were once so sick come back and ring the bell as their victory against cancer is such a joy to us,” he said.
USA Health, the only academic health system on the upper Gulf Coast, treats children with cancer using a multidisciplinary approach that includes board-certified physicians, advanced practice providers, therapists, nurses, and child life specialists, among others, who focus on caring for patients and supporting their families through a journey that can span several years.
“Congratulations on reaching this milestone,” pediatric oncologist and hematologist Felicia Wilson, M.D., told the crowd gathered in the courtyard. “It’s a great day for us, too. This event affirms the mission and joy of what we do.”
The bell ringing ceremony is held each September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a time to provide education and awareness about this critical health issue and to highlight the need for more funding and research. Participants ranged from age 3 to 15.
Statistics show that 1 in 260 children and adolescents younger than 20 will be diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. While rare, a pediatric cancer diagnosis is often devastating for families and caregivers. These cancers are the leading cause of death from disease in children and adolescents, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Because of advances in cancer research, the cancer death rate has declined by some 70% among children (from birth to age 14) and 64% among adolescents (age 15 to19) in the past 40 years. Unfortunately, children are still dying. In 2023, approximately 9,910 children and 5,280 adolescents are expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer, ACS data shows, and 1,040 children and 550 adolescents are expected to die from these diseases this year.