Survivorship program provides ongoing care for childhood cancer survivors

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent


Jaynee's story: Cancer survivor stays on top of her game and her health

Fifteen-year-old Jaynee is an outgoing, free-spirited volleyball player who loves to laugh. Her joyous and spunky personality lights up any court on which she plays.

But while Jaynee may appear carefree, she has already overcome tremendous obstacles in her young life. At just 3 years old, Jaynee's and her family's lives changed when she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. "When the doctor first walked out of the room, he took all the air in our lungs with him," explained her mother, Mary Beth. As a child, Jaynee suffered from a few minor colds and viruses, but nothing to the extent of what they had just learned. Despite her young age, Jaynee and her family embarked on a tough and life-changing adventure.

Jaynee underwent more than two years of chemotherapy treatments at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where she received the world-class and researched-based treatment she needed to beat cancer. In remission for 12 years, she continues to depend on Nationwide Children's for the long-term follow-up care she needs. "Survivors of childhood cancer need ongoing care for the rest of their lives that is specific to the care they received as children," said Amanda Termuhlen, M.D., associate chief of hematology and oncology at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Through the Survivorship Program, created specifically for the ongoing care of cancer survivors, Jaynee participates in regular screenings and consultations with a team of cancer nurses and doctors, psychologists and other specialists. The Survivorship team is qualified to treat the physical, emotional and social side effects that can happen years after childhood cancer treatments.

"At Nationwide Children's, we have the understanding and expertise necessary to care for children and adolescents who have overcome childhood cancer," said Termuhlen, also a professor of clinical pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Through yearly check-ups, the Survivorship program provides childhood cancer survivors the opportunity for appropriate evaluation and the ability to learn what they should expect after their treatment. When Jaynee reaches adulthood, that specialized care will extend to a collaborative survivorship center with the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. "It is reassuring to receive a thorough checkup through the Survivorship Program and have the chance to talk to experienced staff who let us breathe easier for another year," explained Mary Beth.

Today, you can find Jaynee on the volleyball court where nothing gets by her. She has the passion to take on her opponent and the strength to beat cancer.


Caring for each cancer survivor's individual needs

Children, adolescents and young adults surviving childhood cancer have an ongoing need for specialized care and preventive follow-up. At Nationwide Children's Hospital, survivorship care is broken into three specific clinics tailored for children with different survivorship needs. In all the long-term follow up clinics, teams of health care providers focus on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors as they grow into adulthood. This means addressing and finding solutions to their medical, emotional, educational and social needs.

The Oncology Long-Term Follow-Up Clinic focuses on the needs of children and adolescents who have been treated for any type of pediatric cancer. During their clinic visit, the patient is seen by a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse, social worker, psychologist, dentist and nutrition expert. Patients receive a summary of their cancer treatment and educational information about potential complications of their disease or treatment and recommendations for screening and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Neuro-Oncology Long-Term Follow-Up Clinic focuses on the needs of children and adolescents following treatment for brain tumors. The clinic is open to any child treated for a brain tumor, whether treated with chemotherapy or radiation. The clinic also is supported by a nurse, a social worker, an education specialist, a neuropsychologist and an expert on nutrition.

The Bone Marrow Transplant Long-Term Follow-Up Clinic focuses on the needs of children and adolescents following a bone marrow transplant, whether for cancer or a non-cancer condition, such as bone marrow failure or sickle cell disease. The clinic is staffed by bone marrow transplant physicians, as well as a pediatric endocrinologist, a nurse, a social worker, an education specialist, a psychologist and a dentist, who is available on call.


Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer grouped into broader categories, including:

  • Carcinoma - Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
  • Sarcoma - Cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.
  • Leukemia - Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such, as bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.
  • Lymphoma and myeloma - Cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.
  • Central nervous system cancers - Cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

More than 10,000 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer in the United States last year. Significant advances in treatment have led to dramatic improvements in survival rates.

There are an estimated 270,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the U.S. today.