By Jason Canner, MD, division head for pediatric oncology at Advocate Children’s Hospital
Published on July 25, 2016
Nicole Munoz was only a junior in high school when she underwent treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Although she was forced to miss the second half of her junior year, she was still able to graduate with honors and was eventually declared cancer free in the summer of 2009. Nicole continued to receive clean bills of health for the next six years, until she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, an extremely rare cancer in the fall 2015.
“I was very scared and concerned after getting sick a second time, but the team who treated me once before reassured me that I can beat this again,” said Nicole.
As a not-for-profit organization, Advocate depends on philanthropic partnerships to fulfill our mission of service to our patients like Nicole. That is why we were extremely grateful to be one of 18 recipients across the country to receive a 2016 Hyundai Impact Grant from Hyundai Hope On Wheels® (HHOW).
Since I began serving as the division head for pediatric hematology/oncology at Advocate Children’s Hospital, it has been my goal to ensure that we respond to the whole health needs of our patients and provide children and their families with social, clinical and financial support during this difficult process. One of the ways we achieve this objective in patients between the ages of 16-30 is through our Adolescent and Young Adult program, which allows us to improve the patient experience, as well as outcomes through diagnostic treatment per the Children’s Oncology Group and survivorship services. Through this generous award from HHOW, Advocate Children’s Hospital can continue to provide innovative treatment to our Adolescent and Young Adult cancer patients, while also offering comprehensive support to them at this critical point in their lives.
After HHOW presented the check to our team, Nicole and other pediatric cancer patients dipped their hands in paint and planted handprints on the Hyundai Hope On Wheels hero vehicle. Nicole also had a chance to share her powerful story with the attendees, further demonstrating her strength and wisdom.
“I am very lucky to be treated at Advocate Children’s Hospital; they have some of the best doctors, nurses, and staff. The Hyundai event was very exciting and I would like to thank Hyundai for the grant to help work on the Adolescent and Young Adult program,” said Nicole.
We are proud of the model we are developing, and through Hyundai’s generosity and leadership, we will be able to expand these services to provide care and comfort to these vulnerable populations while also building an environment where our patients can feel empowered to move forward even in adversity.
I think Nicole said it best, “I have cancer, cancer does not have me.’’