Since its inception, The Vita Children’s Foundation has held several major fund-raising endeavours. With the help of the Foundation’s large family of friends and supporters, over $350,000 have been raised to date to benefit children and adolescents with cancer. The proceeds from our fund-raising activities have been distributed thus far to the following areas:
A $25,000 cheque to the AYAOP at the Jewish General Hospital’s Segal Cancer Centre
On May 14, 2009, the Vita Children's Foundation presented a $25,000 cheque to the AYAOP at the Jewish General Hospital’s Segal Cancer Centre. The donation will serve for the creation of the AYA database and maintenance of this database project. As the program population increases and serves a greater number of young adults with many different types of cancers, the AYA team feels that it is important to have proper documentation and statistical information of its patients.
What is the AYAOP?
McGill University’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program, created in 2003, is the first AYA-specific oncology program in Canada addressing specific age related issues which are not always optimally addressed by the tumor site oriented approachtaken in patients with cancer. The program is built on a multidisciplinary approach with close interdisciplinary collaboration among all McGill institutions (the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Institute, and most recently St. Mary’s Hospital), ensuring patient accessibility to the health care professionals and services required to meet their unique needs. The program is open to any patient aged 18 to 39 years diagnosed with a malignancy, including any older adults with a pediatric type malignancy and younger patients (16 to 18 years of age) with epithelial tumors.
The AYA Oncology Program is modeled partly after successful programs in the UK and USA based on US NCI and other cancer agencies such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG) recommendations.
The AYA multidisciplinary team consists of several core members including: a director (a hematologist/oncologist with pediatric oncology background), two assistant directors (both radiation oncologists, one with pediatric radiation oncology training and one with neuro-oncology and translational research expertise), a clinical-administrative co-director, nurse specialist, an adult medical oncologist (specializing in adult epithelial malignancies), two general practitioners, a clinical health psychologist with expertise in bone marrow transplant and testicular cancer, a social worker, pathologists (specialists in sarcoma and neuro-oncology), pharmacists, clinical nurse specialists, a nurse researcher, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nutrition specialists, a clinical assistant, and a data manager. Fellows interested in this new subspecialty are also incorporated into the team. Several team members have pediatric oncology experience and participate on Children’s Oncology Group Clinical trials.
After six years in existence, we are proud to report a long list of accomplishments such as major increased enrollment in clinical trials (including AYA-specific trials), superior access to services required, and reduced loss to follow-up. The program maintains a patient registry, facilitates tumor banking, ensures the implementation of crucial psychosocial services required by this population, and collaborates nationally and internationally. Newly established AYA oncology tumor boards, psychosocial rounds, and retreats were successfully developed with high attendance. Recently developed and routinely implemented cancer rehabilitation, exercise, nutritional, and art therapy programs have no comparison in Canada in terms of complexity and accessibility for all our patients. Fertility specialists are offering state of the art treatment to all our patients with no limitations thanks to the Cedars Foundation and support groups.
Our national and international reputation and recognition have grown dramatically over the last year with full recognition by CIHR, CPAC, CAPCA, and NCIC and the leading role of the AYA program has been established. A first booklet describing the work of the AYA program as well as articles and talks reporting on the McGill experience were well accepted across provinces and by individual institutions and experts. Success with support groups, patient navigation packages, bags, booklets created by Cedars, Hope & Cope, and VOBOC attained national recognition. AYA Oncology awareness week was held in Montreal in May 2009.
We are proud of our ability to work closely together. We communicate frequently and effectively with each other, as well as with outside resources, in order to optimize the treatment and care of our very special patients. Our efficiency, our results, and our continued enthusiasm for this program are testimony to a collective commitment to the principles and objectives of a healthy future. We are hopeful the McGill AYA Oncology Program with its pioneering efforts in Quebec will be a role model for the rest of the country.
Petr Kavan MD, PhD
Medical and Pediatric Oncologist
Director, McGill University Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program
A $5,000 cheque to the Dr. Clown Programme
On September 8, 2008, The Vita Children’s Foundation presented a $5,000 cheque to the Dr. Clown programme. Dr. Clown is a Montreal-based charitable organisation that offers therapeutic clowning services to young cancer patients. Dr. Clown brightens the lives of hospitalized patients with its regular and professional programmes of therapeutic clowning, which bring artists and patients together in an atmosphere of imagination and fun. For more information on the Dr. Clown programme, please visit their website at www.drclown.ca.
The Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology Program at the Jewish General Hospital’s Segal Cancer Centre
An 18-year old boy suffering from leukaemia has little in common with a 45-year old woman with breast cancer. So why are they sitting side by side in the waiting room to see the doctor?
It’s hard to imagine a thing worse than a child with cancer – but consider for a moment the ensuing battle that may follow this child into their teens and even young adulthood.
In the tragic event that this should occur, new challenges arise and need to be addressed – especially since research indicates that survival rates for adolescents and young adults with cancer are inferior to those of adults and children in the pediatric age range.
Dr. Petr Kavan, an accomplished hematologist-oncologist, is tackling this matter through a new initiative at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). Director of the Youth Oncology Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital since 2003, he is now also directing the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program (AYAOP) within the JGH’s state-of-the-art Segal Cancer Centre.
Recognizing that patients between 18-25 years have unique medical and psychological needs that simply cannot be met in pediatric or adult oncology settings, the AYAOP will provide adolescents and young adults with the efficient and appropriate treatment they require. Within the pleasant environment of the new Segal Cancer Centre and through various interdisciplinary components such as social work, psychology, nursing, and physiotherapy, the AYAOP will provide these young cancer patients with the specialized care that they deserve.
The program will also conduct important clinical trials on adolescent and young adult cancers. Better understanding why cancers that strike this group age are so often fatal is imperative, and part of Dr. Kavan’s mission is to find out why.
On April 9, 2007, The Vita Children’s Foundation was thrilled to contribute to this notable program. With the $40,000 raised through our various events, Dr. Kavan can now take a major step forward by hiring a research assistant to help carry out his innovative research. Dr. Kavan and his research team expect to increase the number of experimental cutting edge therapies that are available to this patient population. The Vita Children’s Foundation is delighted to join the AYAOP in its noble ventures towards a better future.
Haematology/Oncology In-Patient Ward of the Montreal Children's Hospital
Upon its creation in 2002, the main objective of The Vita Children’s Foundation was to raise much-needed funds for the $1.8-million reconstruction project of the Haematology/Oncology In-Patient ward of the Montreal Children's Hospital.
After much anticipation, the newly renovated ward was officially inaugurated on December 19, 2005.
The ward serves critically ill children suffering from all forms of cancer. These young patients have very special and specific needs and often experience prolonged hospital stays that can be both difficult and very stressful for the entire family.
The aim of the renovation project was to create a more positive healing environment by providing state-of-the art filtration and air temperature control, by increasing the number of private rooms and washrooms, and by making these patient rooms more comfortable. The improved design has also created a more efficient workspace for the staff caring for these patients.
New elements that were included in the rooms are HEPA filters, which are extremely important for patients whose immune systems are vulnerable to infection; built-in entertainment centres, complete with flat-screen TV, DVD player and video game console; computers and desks; and, specially designed chairs that convert into beds for parents.
Recognising the importance of making The Children’s cancer unit a first-rate paediatric oncology facility, we decided that we needed to do our part to make this very special project a reality. Through the support of all our generous sponsors, donors and volunteers, The Vita Children’s Foundation was able to contribute a total sum of $100,000 to this extremely important initiative. We are also extremely proud and honoured that the Montreal Children’s Hospital has dedicated a room on Ward 8D to our Foundation.
MUHC Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Programme
The MUHC Foundation presents a plaque to members of The Vita Children’s Foundation in recognition of their fundraising efforts on behalf of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Programme of the McGill University Health Centre