Flash mob “celebrates” local cancer services for children at Grand River Hospital and provincial network of care

Grand River Hospital and the community have marked Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by “celebrating” local services that help kids live their everyday lives while undergoing treatment.

The hospital’s KW Site was home to a flash mob to the Kool and the Gang hit “Celebration” following a visit by officials from the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) and community leaders.

Partner organizations took part in a ceremony prior to the flash mob to unveil a sign recognizing GRH’s role in Ontario’s network of cancer care for young people. Young patients also received bravery beads from the Kitchener Rangers’ Clarky’s Kids program and GRH recognizing their determination as they receive care.

“Cancer is stressful for families. It can be even harder for children, due to the disruptions to their lives and the everyday activities of growing up,” says Malcolm Maxwell, GRH president and CEO. “We wanted to celebrate how local children and families can continue to enjoy the things that make their young lives special because they can receive care in their home community.”

“We’re pleased to not only bring awareness to children with cancer, but also to our POGO Satellite Clinic and its importance to this community in offering care to families closer to home,” adds Patti Bambury, the POGO satellite nurse coordinator at GRH.

GRH’s POGO Satellite Clinic provides on-going care and assessments for children receiving cancer treatment. It offers chemotherapy, blood products, inpatient stays and palliative care.

Care providers from tertiary children’s hospitals in the province diagnose and develop treatment protocols for children. Once a patient’s treatment starts, they attend the POGO Satellite Clinic for care and check-ups. GRH’s clinic saves children and families frequent long drives to other specialized centres. Boys and girls can continue to take part in school and other activities.

The flash mob involved hospital board members, staff, physicians, volunteers, and patients as well as community members. Joanna Flannagan of ConfiDance Studio in Kitchener provided training for the dancers and a video on Youtube (http://tiny.cc/grhflashmob). Students from Kitchener Collegiate Institute and the Wilfrid Laurier University football team also joined in.

“When we were first told our son had leukemia, our lives changed immediately. Dealing with the diagnosis, treatment and being away from home was overwhelming to everyone in the family.  Being able to come to Grand River for treatments allowed our son to not miss whole days of school on treatment days, and we were able to get him into see a doctor sooner and faster when a fever started. As parents, it allowed us to easily share responsibility for appointments and inpatient visits to keep disruption to our other children at a minimum as well,” says Sylvia Cook, whose son Zachary has received treatment at GRH’s POGO Satellite Clinic.