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Learn about the children who found hope and help at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 15, 2014) - The rough ride of cancer treatment hasn't thrown Drew Shryock out of the saddle. Hanging his ever-present cowboy hat on IV poles, the 6-year-old patient at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic faces his treatment with the grit of John Wayne.
"We can either cowboy up, or sit and cry in the truck," Drew's mom Rebecca Shryock has said to him throughout treatment. The motto has carried Drew and his family through a battle with Leukemia that began two years ago.
Motivated by her son's resilience, Shryock founded the nonprofit 'Cowboy Up for a Cure' in 2013 to support families fighting childhood cancer. Funds raised are contributed to the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic where Drew receives treatment. In March, Cowboy Up for a Cure donated $50,000 to the clinic, which was matched by a donation through the University of Kentucky student-run DanceBlue event.
On April 17-18, Cowboy Up for a Cure will team up with the UK rodeo team, the Farmhouse fraternity and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority for the inaugural Cowboy Up for a Cure Rodeo. Big Hat Rodeo Company will bring western-style entertainment from barrel racing to bull rides to rodeo clowns to the Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park from 7-9 p.m. each night. All proceeds from admission will be donated to Cowboy Up for a Cure.
Shryock, an alumnus of UK and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, her sons Jackson, Drew and Colt, and husband Jeremy raise beef cattle on their Central Kentucky farm. After a trip showing cattle in July of 2012, Shryock noticed Drew was experiencing a strange cough. Shryock suspected a case of bronchitis, but test results revealed Drew had rapidly progressing form of Leukemia, which had led to a malignant mass forming near his heart.
An oncology team at Kentucky Children's Hospital led by Dr. Tom Badgett mapped out an aggressive three-year plan for treatment. Drew underwent an emergency surgery to remove malignant fluid around his heart right away. Drew's course so far has included a series of eight whole-brain radiation treatments, numerous chemotherapy infusions, spinal injections, transfusions, steroids, pain medications, occupational therapy, weekly visits to the clinic and more than 20 hospitalizations.
Shryock, a former nurse, said members of Drew's oncology team have become close as friends through the process. The level of care, compassion and professionalism she's experienced at Kentucky Children's Hospital prompted her decision to use Cowboy Up for a Cure's fundraising to establish new resources at the clinic.
"I feel so confident and comfortable with every single one of them there," Shryock said of the team at the pediatric cancer clinic. "They were the only people besides me and my husband that were able to give my son the gift of life - we owe them everything."
Dr. Badgett and the oncology team encountered a few unexpected complications through Drew's treatment, including a case of appendicitis and a hypotensive event. He said like many children fighting cancer, Drew has handled painful and fearful situations with grace and courage.
"Drew and his family are remarkable in that they just keep trucking, rolling right over the bumps in the road that many of us would call mountains," Dr. Badgett said. "Drew doesn’t let his illness or the treatments slow him down. He continues to be an active and engaging kid."
Today, Drew is attending his first year of kindergarten and playing in a tee-ball league. Now in the maintenance phase of his treatment plan, he still receives daily chemotherapy treatment but is scheduled to complete his treatment in October 2015. Shryock often refers to a quote from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." She said this sentiment sums up how tough children like Drew show grace and strength through tragedy.
"We've gotten to see what it really means to 'cowboy up,'"Shryock said. "(Drew's) never once complained. He's never been the child to say 'I can't; I won't.' He's been the child to pull himself up from the bootstraps."
To purchase $10 advance tickets to the Cowboy Up for a Cure Rodeo or for more information, visit http://www.cowboyupforacure.org. Tickets are $12 at the door.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2014) - To an outdoor-loving, tree-climbing 4-year-old boy, six weeks of summer immobilized in a spica cast is an eternity.
This was the case for Ford Francis of Worthington, Ky., who suffered a high break to his femur bone while camping with his grandfather last summer. A tumble across the entrance of a tent sent him to the local emergency room, and then to Kentucky Children's Hospital for urgent care. Ford’s fractured leg was set and held with a spica cast that went from his legs to his chest, limiting his mobility and making car transport almost impossible with a regular car seat.
As part of a program offered by Kentucky Children's Hospital, Ford's family received a car seat specially designed for young children with spica casts. These car seats, which can cost as much as $500 and aren't available in retail stores, are provided to families to make safe transport possible for children recovering from femur and pelvis injuries.
Ford's mom, Kristen Francis, said the car seat allowed her to take Ford out of the house during his six-week recovery period. Car trips to restaurants and to the toy shop were mood-boosters for Ford, who really wanted to play with his friends outdoors.
"It made his life seem a little bit more normal," Kristen Francis said of the car seat.
The Kentucky Children's Hospital obtained a grant from the Children's Miracle Network last year to purchase 10 special car seats per year for children who required spica casts. The program supplies a car seat to spica cast patients as young as infants to 6 years of age.
Before Kentucky Children's Hospital received the grant supporting the program, getting a child in a spica cast home was a dilemma for many families. Dr. Todd Milbrandt, program director for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said patients had the option to purchase a special car seat out-of-pocket or request an ambulance ride home. The only other alternative was transporting children in a car without proper safety restraints, which was strongly discouraged.
Milbrandt expressed concern about the safety of the children during return trips for follow-up care. Providing the car seat service to patients ensures all children will have the proper four-point restraint while riding in a car in a spica cast.
"Of course, some of our families can't afford a brand new car seat," Milbrandt said. "We were worried kids who were hurt were being transferred home unsafely or by an ambulance, which is very expensive."
Milbrandt said a child's inhibited mobility during a spica cast recovery can be a source of stress for both parents and the injured child. The ability to get out of the house can help reduce some of that stress.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 31, 2014) — Arriving about 17 weeks before her due date and weighing less than a pound, Nyla Jo-el Blessing Doyle was given a 10 percent chance of survival.
With an involved parent and follow-up care at the Kentucky Children's Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Graduate Clinic, today the bright-eyed 1-year-old crawls, babbles and pulls herself up. Members of a multidisciplinary team, which includes a doctor, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech language pathologist, a registered dietician, a social worker and nurses, are encouraged with Nyla's progress in just a year. Still, they will continue to monitor her development for short- and long-term risks associated with premature birth in the months ahead.
"I look at her pictures now and cry just thinking how far she has come," Katherine Bennett, Nyla's mom, said. "She's a fighter — she has unbelievable strength."
Just short of 23 weeks into her pregnancy, Bennett delivered Nyla at the UK HealthCare Chandler Hospital, and Nyla was admitted to the UK NICU March 14, 2013. At 2 months old, Nyla underwent heart surgery for patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, a common heart condition in premature babies. She came off a ventilator May 30 and received her first bottle of mother's milk in June. Surgeons corrected Nyla's retinopathy, a condition in which the retina of the eyes are sensitive to light, with laser eye surgery in early July. Still breathing with an oxygen tank and attached to a heart monitor, Nyla finally went home in late July. In August, she attended her first appointment at the NICU Graduate Clinic.
Dr. Nirmala Desai, who founded the clinic nearly 40 years ago, said babies born as early as Nyla are at high-risk for developmental delays, which is why it's important they receive follow-up care at the NICU Graduate Clinic located in the Family Care Center at Red Mile Place. NICU graduates are seen in the clinic at the ages of 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. The follow-up appointments give the multidisciplinary team the opportunity to catch developmental disorders and advise parents on how to intervene.
"When babies are premature, they tend to have unique problems," Desai said.
In the first year of development, the team monitors head circumference to check for proper brain growth and body proportions. They also monitor the child's nutrition, asking if the baby has difficulty eating certain types of foods, and motor development. In the second year, Desai said they will look for speech and language development, as well as red flags in behavioral development. The team makes sure the baby is starting to exhibit the ability to think, function and respond.
Another of Desai's roles in the NICU Graduate Clinic is counseling parents on preventive measures and creating healthy environments for children. She provides education regarding immunizations for children and discourages family members' smoking around children. She said the parents have the ability to help reverse the complications of premature birth by simply being involved.
"The biggest predictor of how well these babies do is their parenting," Desai said. "It's the parents' involvement that makes a world of difference, and that's why we encourage participation. We can have a sophisticated NICU — but we cannot substitute Nyla's mom."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 28, 2014) — With school out for Spring Break in Fayette County next week, many families are packing their bags for the beach, the campground, the theme park or another out-of-town location. But even for families enjoying a low-key "stay-cation," Kentucky Children's Hospital Safe Kids nurse Zinnia Robinson recommends the following safety considerations for an accident-free week.
Traveling to Your Location
Long drives in the car can be taxing on the kids. Before getting on the road, make sure children are buckled up properly and young children are securely fastened in an appropriate child safety seat. More than 300 children were saved due to the use of a restraining device in 2009 alone. It's also important to remember that children younger than 13 years of age should always be seated in the backseat of the car.
When driving a long way to a vacation destination, plan for frequent breaks and stops along the way. A child's body warms three to five times faster than an adult's body, so parents should monitor the heat in the car and never leave children alone in a car. Drivers should receive adequate sleep before hitting the road, and parents should think twice before allowing an inexperienced driver to take the wheel. Teens ages 15‐19 years old made up 74 percent of motor vehicle occupant or driver fatalities in 2012.
Protecting Your Skin
Many Spring Break-bound families are headed for sunny skies and white sand beaches. But even on a cloudy day at the beach, the sun can have damaging effects on skin. The sun produces two types of ultraviolet radiation — UVA, which causes sunburn, and UVB, which has a lasting impact on the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Applying a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher can help protect against the harmful UVB rays.
An extended period in the sun requires frequent reapplication of sunscreen. Be sure to reapply immediately after getting in the water, sweating while playing a sport or drying off with a towel. Also, wear hats and sunglasses for extra protection and take frequent breaks indoors.
Robinson said a good rule of thumb in hot climates is to provide a water bottle for every member of the family. When active, children around 88 pounds should drink 5 ounces of water every 20 minutes and adolescents around 132 pounds should drink 9 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Severe dehydration can be a life-threatening condition, especially in children. Symptoms include cramping, faintness or dizziness, nausea, emotional instability and high body temperature.
Watersports and Drowning
Riding jet skis and boating might seem like great family activities. But without the proper certifications, equipment and, most importantly, adult supervision, these sports pose risks to youth and children. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents. Robinson said children and youth should always wear lifejackets on the water — no matter their age or swimming ability. It's also a good idea to do some prior research on state laws regarding the operation of watersport vehicles.
"The nice thing about our kids is they are so active and they love to explore their environment, and we don't want to stifle that," Robinson said. "We want them to explore their world, but with appropriate supervision."
According to Safe Kids, on average more than 1,000 kids die every year from drowning. Drowning accounted for 70 percent of boating accident fatalities in 2011 and is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between ages 1 and 4. While it might be too late for swimming lessons before vacation, Robinson stresses that it's critical for children who are going to be around water to learn how to swim. For older children, make sure everyone has a swimming buddy and that children are obeying the signage around pools and beaches. Robinson emphasized that no safety measure can replace adult supervision.
On big family vacations and visits to theme parks, it's important to have protocol in place to help everyone to stay connected. Before entering a theme park, mall or busy public beach, discuss an emergency separation plan with the family and designate a meeting place. Parents should make sure children know where to go and who to trust if they are separated in a crowd. Cellular devices readied with emergency numbers can also help keep families safe.
Staying at Home
For families staying home on Spring Break, safety risks exist when children are left alone at home. A parent required to leave children at home during the workday should make sure an adult checks on their children from time to time. It's also a good idea to establish a family password so children can discern whether someone at the door or a caller can be trusted. Ultimately, parents must use good judgment when leaving children at home alone. Discussing safety hazards around the house and having an emergency response plan for children is essential.
For more information about safety for children, visit www.safekidsfayettecounty.com or call Safe Kids Fayette County at UK Children's Hospital at 859-323-1153.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 27, 2014) – Kohl's Department Stores, through the Kohl's Cares® cause merchandise program, has donated $69,699 to UK HealthCare Kentucky Children’s Hospital. The donations were collected from Kohl’s stores located in the Lexington area. Kohl’s has donated more than $1,149,815 to KCH since 2001.
Kentucky Children’s Hospital is hosting a Read To Your Baby party from 5 to 6:30 p.m. today at Hallis School, 915 Murray Drive in Lexington, to celebrate the donation and to help build excitement for learning and reading for parents and preschoolers. The event is open to the public.
“The earlier you start reading to your children, the greater the effect on their language skills,” said Dr. Donna Grigsby, Chief of General Pediatrics at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “Many different studies have shown the long-term benefits of listening to stories for babies in language development, brain development and relationship building.” This event launches the Kohl’s Read to Your Baby program, which will have events and a media campaign across Kentucky throughout the year.
Clifford the Big Red Dog, Scratch (UK Wildcats mascot) and Stitches (Kentucky Children’s Hospital mascot) will give out books and pose in pictures at the Read To Your Baby party. There will also be crafts, food, drinks, reading activities and the opportunity for each child to receive a book.
Kohl's commitment to Kentucky Children’s Hospital of Lexington is made possible through the Kohl's Cares cause merchandise program. Through this initiative, Kohl’s sells $5 books and plush toys, with 100 percent of net profit benefiting children’s health and education programs nationwide, including hospital partnerships like this one.
Kentucky Children's Hospital | Driving Directions >UK Albert B. Chandler HospitalPavilion H, Fourth Floor800 Rose StreetLexington, KY 40536Phone: 859-323-5000
Kentucky Clinic | Driving Directions >Second Floor740 S. LimestoneLexington, KY 40536Phone: 859-323-5625
Twilight Clinic (after-hours clinic) | Driving Directions >Kentucky ClinicSecond Floor, Wing D740 S. LimestoneLexington KY 40536-0284Phone: 859-257-6730Hours: Mon - Fri, 5:00-9:00 p.m., weekends and holidays, noon-5 p.m.
UK Pediatrics @ MaxwellUK Good Samaritan Hospital Professional Arts Center | Driving Directions >135 E. Maxwell St., Suite 200 Lexington, KY 40508Phone: 859-257-9800 (For an appointment with Dr. Boarman or Dr. Latham) Phone: 859-323-6211 (For an appointment with Dr. Behar, Dr. Ringley, Dr Sparks or Tanya Crockett, APRN)
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