September 22, 2011
I Will Survive!
BY Gail Goodwin
They weren't playing that song, but you could tell by the big smiles on every face that they were all celebrating.
Marking September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, almost 300 pediatric cancer survivors and their caregivers gathered to honor the occasion, along with faculty and staff from MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. The event was held Sept 10 at the John P. McGovern Health and Medical Science Museum in Houston.
Highlighting the evening was a special presentation of medals to the survivors. After an introduction about the Childhood Cancer Survivors Clinic in the Children's Cancer Hospital by Joann Ater, M.D., Child Life Director Kate Shamszad called out the honoree names. Ater gave the medals to the survivors to much applause from the crowd. Cesar Nunez, M.D., closed the ceremony with some heartfelt words about surviving cancer.
Tree of Life
Another feature of the event was the debut of the Tree of Life, which was created by more than 300 Children's Cancer Hospital patients and their siblings over the course of a year. Ian Cion, artist-in-residence for the hospital, guided the children to make flowers, birds, bugs and grass, as well as the tree itself. This colorful bit of landscape is worth a close look. You will see occasional personal messages from the children and also the personality of the exhibit.
Cion also had an art table set up for visitors to create art for his next project.
Those celebrating had the run of the museum to explore. From the popular Amazing Body Pavilion to You: The Exhibit, there was lots of learning, and fun, going on. A unique slide show on the McGovern Theater screen introduced attending survivors with photos of them while in treatment and now in current day.
Learning and fun
Adding to the evening was the special Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination presentation. Everyone saw that there was real science involved in that movie. But the question about whether research may someday lead to real-life versions of the futuristic technologies seen in the film series still remains.
The exhibit also featured props and costumes from all six "Star Wars" films and a simulated ride in a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon cockpit.
It wasn't all about exploring and survivor medals, however. The celebration continued with burritos, chips and salsa from Mission Burrito, courtesy of the Sunshine Kids Foundation. Crave Cupcakes supplied little bites of deliciousness, and Triumph Over Kid Cancer provided drinks to wash down these treats.
The Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support was the presenting sponsor of the celebration. In addition to those mentioned above, the John P. McGovern Health and Medical Science Museum, Main Clinic, Inc. and ANR Transport helped make the evening possible.
The celebration continues
To keep on celebrating, be sure to visit the Tree of Life, which is now on display at MD Anderson in The Park, Floor 2, Main Building, near the Donor Wall.
There will be a special event there on Friday, Sept. 23, at 10:00 a.m. Some of the designers will be introduced and Cion will give a brief overview of the project. If you want to tap the artist in you, there will be arts activities to participate in, too.
We recognize each and every survivor during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ― you will survive!