Behind the Scenes
Family Matters - Summer 2009
In a Class of Her Own
Andrea Hayes-Jordan, M.D., knew from the time that she could talk that she wanted to be a physician. But it wasn’t until her fourth year in medical school that she decided to specialize in pediatric surgery and became the first female African-American pediatric surgeon in the country.
After graduating from Dartmouth Medical School, Hayes-Jordan completed an additional two years of training to become one of only a handful of pediatric surgical oncologists in North America. During her fellowship in melanoma and sarcoma at M. D. Anderson, Hayes-Jordan learned that many adult regimens had not been translated for use in pediatric patients.
Now as an assistant professor in surgical oncology and pediatrics at the Children’s Cancer Hospital, Hayes-Jordan has made it her mission to develop new therapies to treat the rarest of childhood cancers including rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that usually forms in the skeletal muscles, and desmoplastic small round cell tumors, a cancer found within the abdominal area. She has been instrumental in researching and bringing new therapies to these young cancer patients.
“I know that I’m here for this purpose, and that gives me the strength to keep going even when things don’t go well,” says Hayes-Jordan.
In 2006, she became the first surgeon in North America to successfully perform a high-risk adult surgery called continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion (CHPP) on a pediatric patient with tumors that had spread to the abdomen. Hayes-Jordan surgically extracted as many tumors as possible before running heated chemotherapy agents through the abdominal area to kill any remaining tumor cells. Since that first surgery, Hayes-Jordan has continued to perform several CHPP surgeries each year, giving patients more months and years to live.
When she is not in the surgical suite or visiting patients, Hayes-Jordan conducts research in her laboratory. One focus for her research is developing ways to prevent, treat and cure patients with pulmonary metastases. She also has protocols open studying the impact of age on disease free survival in osteosarcoma and ways to treat recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma.
With surgeries to perform, new therapies to develop and cancer patients to care for, Hayes-Jordan is always on the go.
“The kids are my inspiration. Each time I interact with them, I’m renewed with energy to continue working towards a cure,” says Hayes-Jordan. “I also have an extremely supportive husband and family at home.”
In This Issue
Tips for Caregivers: Help Your Next Clinic Visit Run More Smoothly
A Survivor's Story: Garrett and Gatlin Stringer
Behind the Scene: Andrea Hayes-Jordan
A Patient's Voice: Emily Garcia
Medical Matters: Pediatric Research Spotlighted at National Conference
Helping Hands: Fighting Cancer One Toga Party at a Time
Family-Centered Care: We Need Your Input
Art Corner: Children's Art Project Brings Special Canine Guests for a Visit
What's New: Check out a list of upcoming events with the Children's Cancer Hospital
Support for You: Summer Programs Bring Fun Memories for Patients and Siblings