Supporting Cancer Survivors Through Charitable Giving

By Linda Rivard, RN, Mom and Clinical Coordinator of the Pediatric Oncology Survivorship in Transition Clinic
Published on June 05, 2016

Linda Rivard

My son Billy was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 5 and treated in the pediatric oncology clinic at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn in 1996. He unfortunately relapsed and needed a bone marrow transplant so his care had to be transferred to another hospital. Once treatment was completed, his care was transferred to a survivorship clinic at the other facility. Back in 2000, Advocate Children’s Hospital did not have a survivorship clinic.

I have seen firsthand how cancer and its treatments can take a physical, emotional and developmental toll on young patients. Once treatment is over, care does not end. My son is one of many cancer survivors who suffer late effects from the treatment that cured them of their cancers. So when I started working at Advocate Children’s Hospital in 2004, I was grateful to have the opportunity to start a Pediatric Oncology Survivorship in Transition (P.O.S.T.) Clinic with the support of a grant from Riviera Country Club and mentorship from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Over the years, I have witnessed the power of philanthropy as many generous donors have enabled more than 350 childhood cancer survivors to transition to the P.O.S.T. Clinic. The 2012 opening of a P.O.S.T. Clinic at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Park Ridge means that number will continue to grow.

Seeing the challenges of young cancer survivors transitioning to adulthood, has made starting an Adult Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic our next goal. A partnership with the adult health care arena will help provide the best care needed for young cancer survivors as they age.

In college, Billy had a kidney transplant as a result of kidney damage from treatment and his thyroid was removed due to radiation damage. He also has cardiac late effects and currently follows up at Advocate Christ Medical Center’s Cardio Oncology Clinic with Dr. Sunil Pawaa.

My son has taught me that with vigilant monitoring, our loved ones can lead very successful lives. Billy now teaches high school biology and anatomy/physiology in Mendon, Michigan, and he recently brought “Live from the Heart”—a program where students are able to watch a live-feed from a heart surgery performed Christ Medical Center—to Mendon High School!

Childhood cancer survivors are AWESOME. Their perseverance and optimism are what inspire me. They are the reason why every year I support the P.O.S.T. Clinic through Advocate’s Associate Giving Campaign. I have personally experienced the difference that Associate Giving can make in patients’ lives, and that’s why I will continue to give in their honor.

June 5 is National Cancer Survivorship Day. Learn more about Advocate Children’s Hospital’s P.O.S.T. program.