Facing pediatric cancer as a patient or caregiver is challenging enough, but to understand the impact of the late effects of treatment is equally challenging to this population. That is why Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey consistently educates childhood cancer survivors about this topic through its LITE Program. The effort is being further assisted by a $1,500 ‘Beyond the Cure’ educational survivorship conference grant from The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) to support the annual Survivor’s Family Education Night taking place later this week. It is the third consecutive year NCCS is supporting the event through the grant.
The LITE Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute provides long-term evaluation, support, and health education for the growing number of childhood cancer survivors. The program utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to provide services for this population, including a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, advanced practice nurse, social worker, nutritionist, treatment nurses and access to medical specialists related to the management of long-term late effects. Collaborating with experts from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, as well as Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Children’s Specialized Hospital (both RWJBarnabas Health facilities), the LITE team also works with medical practitioners within the survivors’ own communities.
“While pediatric cancer survivors and their families always receive information about treatment late effects when they’re here at Rutgers Cancer Institute, they may not be overly focused on it during their doctor’s visit, instead being more concerned with matters such as test results, making future appointments and other needs. By delivering this information in a non-clinical setting at our education night we have the ability to reach survivors in a more relaxed atmosphere. The event serves as an opportunity to embrace the health strategies presented before them and share experiences with their peers,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute pediatric hematologist/oncologist and LITE Program Medical Director Margaret Masterson, MD, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
This year’s event will address cardiac late effects with experts from various clinical departments at Rutgers University. Past programs have focused on such topics as physical fitness, nutrition, fertility, stress management, neurocognitive late effects and 504 school accommodations.
Robert Manduley, MD, a pediatric cardiologist and director of the Pediatric Echocardiograph Laboratory at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will provide an update on cardiac long-term late effects after pediatric cancer treatment. Lori Magoulas, PhD, RD, a clinical dietitian/nutritionist who works with patients in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute, will present strategies to re-establish healthy dietary habits, as well as review heart healthy dietary guidelines. A survivor panel discussion focusing on how to cope with cancer treatment late effects will round out the event.