Leukemia survivor finds fun, friends, normality at summer camp
June 12, 2013
Driscoll Children's Hospital organizes annual trip to Camp Star Trails for cancer patients
Elizabeth Ochoa, a leukemia survivor, prepares for archery at Camp Star Trails in 2011.
CORPUS CHRISTI - To say that Elizabeth Ochoa is excited about going to summer camp next week is an understatement. On June 16, the 9-year-old will depart with other cancer patients from Driscoll Children's Hospital for her fifth trip to Camp Star Trails in Burton.
"I like swimming, meeting new friends and art," Elizabeth said with wide-eyed enthusiasm. "We get to go canoeing and fishing. The best part of it is the hot tub. I like the food too."
Camp Star Trails is hosted at Camp for All, a camp for children and adults with chronic illnesses or disabilities and their families. Driscoll Children's Hospital organizes the yearly trip for cancer patients ages 5-12 and their siblings, and funding comes from the annual Six Points Kiwanis Club Apple Sale.
Elizabeth was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 2, said her mother, Marilou Ochoa. She had become fatigued, her legs were bruised and she couldn't walk or play. After consulting with her pediatrician, Elizabeth's family took her to Driscoll Children's Hospital, where she began chemotherapy treatment.
"At first we had a feeling of panic because we didn't know what to expect," Ochoa said. "But the oncologists at Driscoll were great. They explained everything to us and lifted our spirits."
Elizabeth lost her hair completely three times due to chemotherapy treatment, her mother said. Now in her third year of being cancer-free, she has a full head of hair and a constant smile.
Cancer treatment and hospitalization can significantly curtail regular childhood activities, said hematologist/oncologist Cris Johnson, MD, medical director of Driscoll's Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Summer camp allows kids to catch up on those experiences.
"At camp, you're a camper, not a patient," Dr. Johnson said. "It gives these children the opportunity to be kids and to focus on their abilities instead of their disabilities. They're supported by other children who understand what they're going through. They form lasting friendships and look forward to seeing each other every year."
Besides making new friends at Camp Star Trails next week, Elizabeth said she's looking forward to seeing a friend she made at Driscoll who was also being treated for cancer.
Elizabeth's older sisters have gone to camp with her twice, Ochoa said. Like Elizabeth, they enjoyed making new friends and interacting with young people who could relate to them. Sibling inclusion is important when a family is focusing on a child with cancer, Dr. Johnson said.
"When their brother or sister is in clinic for treatment, they're often in school and don't have the chance to meet the siblings of other cancer patients. Camp allows them to form a peer group with this shared experience."
Although Ochoa misses Elizabeth when she's at camp, she said the annual week away from home has helped her daughter become more independent because she has to remember to brush her hair and teeth and take a bath every day.
Brushing and bathing aren't at the top of Elizabeth's mind as camp approaches, however.
"At the end of the week, we have a campfire and we make a list of what we wish for," she said. "We hold hands in a circle, they say our name and we throw our wishes into the fire. Then we pop fireworks.
"When we get home, I feel like I want to go back again because I miss everybody."
What: Driscoll cancer patients depart for Camp Star Trails
When: 9 a.m. arrival, 10 a.m. departure Sunday, June 16
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital Day Surgery & Rehabilitation Building, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Credit union to present a $5,000 gift to Driscoll Children's Hospital
May 22, 2013
WHAT: Representatives from Security Service Federal Credit Union will present a check for $5,000 to Driscoll Children's Hospital. The funds are part of a $25,000 commitment from Credit Unions for Kids that will go toward the renovation and expansion of Driscoll's emergency room. The project, to begin this summer and last approximately 18 months, will result in an even more child friendly emergency room that is welcoming, calming and caring.
WHEN: 1:45 p.m. Thursday, May 23
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital, main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll's Teddy Bear Hospital is a chance for patients to be the doctors
May 20, 2013
WHAT: Patients will be the doctors tomorrow during a Teddy Bear Hospital organized by the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The event allows children to become more familiar with the medical equipment and procedures involved in their treatment. They'll choose their teddy bear, give it a name and, with the help of Child Life Specialists and other Driscoll staff, measure its height and weight, place an IV and draw labs, give it an X-ray, attach an anesthesia mask for surgery and put an arm or leg in a cast. The Teddy Bear Hospital and the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital are made possible by a $1 million donation from Stripes convenience stores.
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll resident leads book drive for young clinic patients
May 13, 2013
Giving back 'is part of being a member of a community,' she said
At the book delivery to Amistad Community Health Center May 1 were (from left): Driscoll resident Shuya Wu, MD, PhD; Diana Chavez, Amistad receptionist; Victoria Vidaurre, certified medical assistant (CMA) at Amistad; Julie Flores, CMA at Amistad; Joe Flores, Amistad chief financial officer; Stacy Samples, CMA at Amistad; Stephanie Kanapaux, Amistad receptionist; Jamie Flores, CMA at Amistad; Rose Garcia, Amistad receptionist; Lori Anderson, MD, Amistad pediatrician; and Driscoll resident Shaye Walston, DO.
CORPUS CHRISTI - In an effort to promote early childhood literacy, Driscoll Children's Hospital senior resident Shaye Walston, DO, recently spearheaded a project to collect children's books for patients at Amistad Community Health Center. Donations skyrocketed, and on May 1, 850 books were delivered to the clinic. They're being given to patients when they arrive for well-child checkups.
"Every book will make a big difference to the child who receives it," Dr. Walston said. "By my calculations, these should last Amistad nearly a year."
The new and gently used books were donated by Driscoll's resident physicians and members of the community, Dr. Walston said. They're suitable for kids 0-18 years old.
"We were very surprised and grateful when Dr. Walston arrived in her car loaded with boxes," said Amistad physician Lori Anderson, MD. "The kids here love to pick out a book to take home after their appointments. All of the books will be enjoyed."
The book drive is part of an advocacy campaign titled "Read, Lead, Succeed" that is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Medical Students, Residents, and Fellowship Trainees (SOMSRFT). Dr. Walston is the outgoing AAP delegate for Driscoll's residency program.
According to the AAP website, "When researching for projects, SOMSRFT executive committee
members learned that one-third of 4th graders read so poorly they cannot complete their schoolwork
successfully and children who are read to regularly are 3-4 times less likely to drop out of school. Statistics like this coupled with recent budget cuts to important programs stood out to the group and inspired everyone to try and make changes."
Dr. Walston, who plans to remain in Corpus Christi and practice as a general pediatrician after graduating from Driscoll's residency program next month, hopes to help future Driscoll residents give back to the community through annual donation drives.
"I think giving back is part of being a member of a community," she said. "Growing up, my parents encouraged us to educate ourselves, and reading was one of the best ways to pass time. To be able to give children a chance to further themselves and find a book to lose themselves in is just a small way to open doors for their future."
Dr. Walston has entered the book drive in a contest among residency programs for their advocacy projects sponsored by the Boston-based organization Reach Out & Read. Projects are graded on a variety of factors and the winning residency program, to be chosen this summer, will receive hundreds of books for the clinic of their choice, she said.
Twelve Driscoll patients will be treated to Disney on Ice show
April 24, 2013
WHAT: Twelve Driscoll Children's Hospital patients and their parents or guardians will gather at the hospital's lobby tomorrow and depart for the Disney on Ice show at the American Bank Center, courtesy of H&V Equipment Services, Inc., who purchased the trip for $40,000 at this year's Fiesta de los Niños live auction. Transportation will be provided by TLC The Limo Company, and box seats and refreshments are courtesy of American Bank.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll Children's Hospital, Whataburger join to help Rio Grande Valley children
April 01, 2013
McALLEN - On a daily basis, physicians and staff from Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi travel to Driscoll's specialty clinics in McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen to treat patients who may have cancer, need a kidney transplant or are suffering from any number of diseases. A significant number of Driscoll's patients live in the Rio Grande Valley.
At the Driscoll Children's Gala kick-off press conference March 29, title sponsor Whataburger presented a check for $45,700 to Driscoll Children's Hospital. Pictured, left to right, are: Jesse Flores, Whataburger area manager; David Cantu, Whataburger director of operations; Hugh Dobson, member of the Whataburger founding family; and Reagan Florence, Driscoll director of development, Rio Grande Valley.
To benefit the Rio Grande Valley clinics, Driscoll has joined with Whataburger for the Driscoll Children's Gala, a fundraiser to be held April 26 at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Event Center in Mercedes. The event promises a good time for all, including cocktails, a barbecue dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing to the music of Scott Randolph & The White Lightning Band.
"We are excited to bring this event to the mid-Valley area," said Reagan Florence, Driscoll director of Development in the Rio Grande Valley. "Driscoll Children's Hospital has been helping children in South Texas for 60 years. We hope the community comes out to support the Valley's youth who need the special medical care that Driscoll provides."
On March 29, Whataburger presented Driscoll Children's Hospital with a check for $45,700 as the title sponsor of this year's Gala. Whataburger has been the title sponsor of the Valley fundraiser since its inception in 2004.
"Whataburger is honored for the opportunity to help celebrate Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary," said David Cantu, Whataburger director of operations. "The work they do to support the community is life-changing and they have done so many great things for children and their families. We are especially proud of the friendship Whataburger has forged with such an important member of the South Texas family."
Laura Cortez, executive director of Driscoll's Rio Grande Valley clinics, said Driscoll is extremely grateful for Whataburger's sponsorship.
"Whataburger's support, along with the donations of others, will stay in the Valley and enable our children to receive the quality care they deserve right here."
What: Driscoll Children's Gala
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26
Where: Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Event Center, 1000 N. Texas Ave., Mercedes
Information/donations: Reagan Florence, (956) 688-1239 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Driscoll Children's Hospital, Whataburger to announce details of upcoming Gala
March 28, 2013
WHAT: Young patients at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen will be among those gathered for a press conference at which Whataburger will present a check to Driscoll Children's Hospital and details will be announced about the upcoming Driscoll Children's Gala in Mercedes. Whataburger has been the title sponsor of the Rio Grande Valley fundraiser since its inception in 2004. Proceeds from the event will benefit Driscoll's specialty clinics in the Valley and the children who are treated there.
WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, March 29
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen, 1120 E. Ridge Rd.
Local steakhouse to present check to Driscoll Children's Hospital
March 19, 2013
WHAT: Representatives from Katz 21 Steak & Spirits will present a check for $10,000 to Driscoll Children's Hospital. The donation to Driscoll is the first for the business.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 20
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll patients going to Spurs game courtesy of generous donors
March 15, 2013
WHAT: Five Driscoll Children's Hospital patients and their parents or guardians will gather at the hospital's lobby and depart for San Antonio to see a Spurs game as part of a live auction package purchased at this year's Fiesta de los Niños. Steve and Jessica Johnson, owners of JSJ Services, Inc., purchased the package for $41,000 and will be attending the game with the patients. This is the fourth consecutive year the Johnsons have purchased the package.
WHEN: 4:15 p.m. Saturday, March 16
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Stripes Child Life Carnival is a fun interlude for Driscoll patients
March 11, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - A Stripes Child Life Carnival for patients will be held tomorrow by staff with the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The fifth annual event is designed to make hospitalization a little more pleasant for children by providing a distraction from their illness and an opportunity for socialization, self-expression and normalization.
"The Stripes Child Life Carnival provides an excellent opportunity for our organization to express appreciation to our Child Life staff while providing fun activities for our patients to help ease their mind from stress and illness," said Michelle Goodman, fourth floor and Stripes Child Life Program director at Driscoll.
Activities at the carnival will include a ring toss game, cake walk, fishing game, treasure hunt, magic show, treasure box decorating, Xbox Kinect game and photo booth. Patients will also be able to make their own ice cream sundaes. Employees from Stripes convenience stores will provide a carnival-style prize wheel and store coupons.
The Stripes Child Life Carnival is made possible by a $1 million commitment from Stripes convenience stores in 2009.
What: Stripes Child Life Carnival for Driscoll patients
When: 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 12
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.