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Child Life

The team at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center has treated more than 800 children since it opened in 2006. Our dedicated team of experts understands that children are not just “little adults.” They require experts specifically trained in dealing with the unique emotional and medical needs of children. That’s why at the Proton Therapy Center, we have a dedicated child life specialist on site to help patients and their families cope with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

While your child’s nurse or physician can request assistance from the Proton Therapy Center’s child life specialist, parents can also make this request. Simply call Quinn Franklin MS, CCLS at 713-745-0445 with questions, concerns or for assistance.

What is a child life specialist?

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A child life specialist is a trained professional with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to health care issues, treatment and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

How can a child life specialist help?

There are many ways a child life specialist can help a patient and their siblings during treatment. They include:

Coping Strategies: A child life specialist encourages effective coping and expression during the treatment experience.

Medical Preparation: Getting informative explanations and visual education can make upcoming procedures less difficult for children.

Medical Play: This can be tons of fun and helps educate patients and visitors about medical tools and procedures.

Diversion Therapy: Diversion from the challenges of hospitalization and procedures can help young patients focus on more enjoyable things.

Procedural Support: A child life specialist can provide beneficial support for patients during medical procedures.

What’s Going On?: A child life specialist can help patients, siblings, other family members, friends and classmates understand the diagnosis and treatment process.

Helpful Routines: A child life specialist can provide tools for patients and their families such as Daily Schedules and Medicine Taking Compliance Charts during treatment.

Fun! Fun! Fun!: The Proton Therapy Center play areas provide safe and fun environments for participating in art, games and play – for patients and their siblings!

Learning and Education: Because most pediatric patients at the Proton Therapy Center undergo treatment for six to eight weeks, they sometimes are unable to continue their normal school routine. The Children's Cancer Hospital at MD Anderson has a Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program that serves patients from Pre-K to 12th grade. All MD Anderson Proton Therapy patients are able to participate in this program.

Contact an education specialist for more information or to enroll your child at 713-745-5059 or You may also ask our child life specialist for more information about this program.

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Meet Our Survivors

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Since treating our first patient in May 2006, the dedicated team at the Proton Therapy Center has helped countless patients overcome cancer and get back to living their lives. Click here to read our patient survivor stories.

© 2016 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center