A Documentary Film about Texas Children’s Cancer Center

Texas Children’s Cancer Center, world renowned for its work in pediatric cancer care and hematologic disorders, offers innovative therapies for all forms of childhood cancer and blood disorders. This video gives you an inside look at the patients and doctors that make the Cancer Center one of the finest pediatric institutions in the world.

For more videos about Texas Children’s Hospital and the hematology-oncology centers, visit www.youtube.com/user/TexasChildrensVideo

Transcript

“The vision is simple, it’s to have the finest pediatric cancer and blood disease program in the world. That of course is nothing that you achieve and then say, ‘Great, I’ve done it, we’re now excellent.’ I think excellence is something you continually strive for” said Dr. David Poplack, Director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

“Not only is it the physicians, but it’s also the nurses, the social worker, the child life specialist–even if it’s somebody who’s working in a laboratory, they know that their taking part of something that could impact the lives of children not only here in Houston, but across the world,” said Dr. Susan Blaney, Deputy Director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

“We want to embrace each patient and their family and be with them every step of the way, not matter what. It’s a reflection of the type of people that are here. They’re really a remarkable group of people that are driven to be the best.” said Poplack.

Hello, how are you doing? —Good.

“Grant was diagnosed with ALL in 2009, ” said Grant’s mother.

“Full treatment is just short of 3 years, and we average between a week to two weeks here in the hospital” said Grant’s father.

“When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just that child that is affected. It’s the entire family that is affected. Our goal is to have a healthy, psychologically strong, and optimistic child. But we’re truly successful if we can keep the whole family unit that way,” said Dreyer.

“Grant is their patient and we’re sort of their patient too,” said Grant’s father.

“You know there are speed bumps along the way when your child is diagnosed with this type of disease. Grant had this neurological episode. He lost the ability to walk. He lost the ability to sit up on his on. We learned very quickly that it wasn’t just Dr. Dreyer that is his doctor–it is a team. What David and I have been most touched by is doctors that have not seen Grant but once or twice and will stop us in the hallway and ask ‘How’s Grant doing?” said Grant’s mom.

“Everyone is part of the team. People tend to look at the doctor and think ‘you cured my child.’ I didn’t cure your child. We working as a team cured your child,” said Dreyer.

“The only way to sensibly care for any patient is to have everybody communicating,” said Poplack.

“It’s truly amazing–”

“Some of the best leukemia minds in the world are sitting in a room talking about him.”

“It’s not about our ego, it’s about treating the patient,” said Poplack.

“Our goal is to keep the patients developing as normally as possible, despite all that they’re going through. So once they know that you’re a safe person and that you’re there to help, it can make a big difference,” said Swan.

“Grant, I was going to see if you wanted to play with the doctor stuff today?” (Grant nods) “You do!”

“Whatever tests and procedures they’re going to have, they might imagine that it’s going to be a lot worse than it really is–we want to make sure that they know what it really is. So we do a lot of medical play to show what kind of equipment and things that they’re going to encounter. When they have that understanding, they’re not as afraid,” said Swan.

“Can you tell me why he has to have medicine? (Grant replies) “Cause he has– leukemia.”

“It’s hard–it’s a very hard treatment. I watch his parents, his sister, our child life workers, our social workers, circle around him to get him through this cancer,” said Dreyer.

“Every family should have somebody that is their consistent stable person, and I think that our social work role here provides for that. What I say to my families is that ‘I’m here to think ahead for you.’ I can take care of everything that is going on around them so that they can focus on what the treatment is requiring of them as well as their child,” said Brambhatt.

— —

“Purple Songs Can Fly is a recording studio in the cancer center. I work with the children so they can write their own songs, and I’ve always believed we all have a song inside,” said Anita Kruse, founder of Purple Songs Can Fly.

“I’ve been dancing ballet since I was 4 years old. I’ve always watched all the great musicals and thought-I want to be up there!” said Emily.

“When she was diagnosed she was being cast in a theater production,” said Emily’s mom.

“Going from that to laying in a hospital bed is very, very hard,” said Emily.

“Then to be given the opportunity to sing again is just incredible for her,” said Kruse.

“I recorded it right there, we practiced it a few times and recorded me and I was done,” said Emily.

“We all benefit from having the arts in our lives, and so the Periwinkle Arts in Medicine Program is essential. A lot of kids have arts experiences here that they would never have otherwise,” said Kruse.

“When Emily was born most kids didn’t live through this. We’re just thankful that the technology is there, that it’s treatable,” said Emily’s mom.

 — —

“A physician-scientist is somebody who is not only tied to the clinic and tied to patient care, but  really invested in making sure that things are going to be better for the next generation,” said Dr. Crystal Louis.

“We have 26 research labs dedicated to cancer research within our cancer center.We have people that are developing new drugs to treat cancer that are only available here, so that research directly relates to patient outcomes,” said Dreyer.

“If Grant had been diagnosed just a few months earlier, he would have had a totally different protocol. He probably would have had bone marrow transplant,” said Grant’s father.

“This new drug could potentially save his life and change the outcome from being a 50% success rate to something more like 87%,” said Grants mother. “It was really that dramatic,” Grants father replied.

“I have patients from California, to those that are coming from New York, from Minnesota, etc, that are coming here because we are doing novel innovative things that they would like to participate in.”

“It is an awesome responsibility because we need to be totally focused on the end point, which is eventually putting us out of business,” said Poplack.

(Emily singing) I want to get back, up on on top.

“This is challenging work, but seeing Grant take his first steps–how could you do anything better than that?,” said Dreyer.

“What I think about what I hope for Grant is that this time next year he is in school, just being a normal kid. He deserves that,” said Grant’s father.

“You really get to see these kids grow up. Even though they’re long term survivors they will still come in and ask for the doll and ask for the medical play stuff. So it’s really great to see that impact,” said Swan.

“This is a family, it’s a part of me, it’s got a rhythm and I want to continue to be here for that,” said Brambhatt.

“I want to get back up on top, anything, I can do anything, that’s how I feel–I can do anything!” said Emily.

“I have patients that are now going to medical school and every year I look forward to hear about their lives that are going forward since they were treated for cancer,” said Blaney.

“When I started here we had 7 faculty and 42 employees. Now we have 110 faculty and 615 employees, so we’ve grown tremendously, said Poplack. “I always make it a point to walk to my office, by walking through the clinic because as soon as I see the first family sitting there with their children, I know what’s important and what’s not really important. We get our inspiration from our patients.”

 — —

(children reading a poem out loud)

Gazing in the mirror / I see a Warrior’s face / fully clothed in armor / no fear and no disgrace.
A tear it never offers / a smile it always gives / no sadness does it show / but what a life it lives.

Needles going in / as blood is taken out / but still no signs of pain / no cries to make you doubt.
Each day you see this person / and think that they’re so brave / each day you see us laughing / the tears are ours to save.

So when you see our armor / and think we’re calm and mild,
remember this one thing / the warrior is a child.

You know there are speed bumps along the way when your child is diagnosed with this type of disease. Grant had this neurological episode. He lost the ability to walk. He lost the ability to sit up on his on. We learned very quickly that it wasn’t just Dr. Dreyer that is his doctor–it is a team. What David and I have been most touched by is doctors that have not seen Grant but once or twice and will stop us in the hallway and ask ‘How’s Grant doing? 

 

“Everyone is part of the team. People tend to look at the doctor and think ‘you cured my child.’ I didn’t cure your child. We working as a team cured your child,” said Dreyer.

 

We do a lot of medical play [with the kids] to show what kind of equipment and things that they’re going to encounter. When they have that understanding, they’re not as afraid,” said Swan.