September 10, 2019

Cancer survivor Sophia Sereni took center stage last week at one of the three Going Gold celebrations held at Texas Children’s hospitals in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Standing before a packed conference room in the Pavilion for Women, the curly-haired teen sang “Be Golden,” a gentle but strong song she wrote with Purple Songs Can Fly following treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Click here to listen to the full song.

“This has been an amazing experience,” Sophia said. “I’m so glad I could be part of such an important cause.”

Following Sophia’s performance and dressed in bright gold shirts and other festive gear, fellow survivors, current patients, families, Texas Children’s Cancer Center employees and others marched for childhood cancer awareness, ending their short trek on The Auxiliary Bridge where they participated in a ribbon tying event and received information from various support organizations.

View photos from the events below.

Sponsored by The Faris Foundation, similar events and parades were held last week at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. A celebration will be held this week at Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic in McAllen, Texas.

“Each year, the events get bigger and better,” said Asha Virani, founder of The Faris Foundation and the mother of Faris D. Virani, who lost his battle with Ewing sarcoma and inspired Texas Children’s to “Go Gold.” “It’s a golden opportunity to spread awareness and love. Texas Children’s has been a leader in making this cause so visible.”

Khole Henry, an 8-year-old cancer patient, said she attended the event last year and was so excited to hear that it was going to happen again this year.

“My favorite part is the snacks!” Khole beamed as she grabbed a couple of bite-sized bags of M&Ms for later. “I’m glad I got to come.”

Director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Dr. Susan Blaney said she is glad so many people turned out to raise awareness for such an important cause and that even though great strides have been made in combatting childhood cancer, there is still work to be done.

“We need a cure for every child diagnosed with cancer,” Blaney said. “That’s why we have to keep doing laboratory and clinical research, keep developing novel treatment approaches and continue raising awareness about childhood cancer.”

Last year alone, almost 600 children were diagnosed with cancer at Texas Children’s. The disease remains the leading cause of non-accidental death in children. Help spread the word that pediatric cancer is a serious disease and that Texas Children’s Cancer Center is here to help. For more information about the Cancer Center, click here.

Click here to view a preview of the next installment of “This is Cancer: Reflections from our patients.” This installment focuses on Owen, who was barely 2 years old when doctors found a mass the size of a grapefruit surrounding his heart and cutting off his airway. Since then, his tiny body has been through a lot. But, as his mom Emily says, not even cancer can slow this energetic toddler down. The “This is Cancer” series documents the journeys of several families receiving care at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. Their stories illustrate in intimate detail what they’re experiencing and how to better support them. Click here to learn more.

Aaron Mansfield shares how a mobile end-of-treatment bell that he designed and built is helping our cancer patients and their families celebrate this memorable milestone in their cancer journey. Read more

Hyundai Hope On Wheels (HHOW) dedicated half a million dollars in Hyundai Young Investigator and Scholar Hope awards last week to Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers to help Texas Children’s continue its long-standing fight against pediatric cancer.

HHOW, a non-profit organization supported by Hyundai and its U.S. dealers, has committed $13.2 million to support 52 physician-researchers across the nation in their research for better treatment options and to improve care for children diagnosed with pediatric cancer.

The Hyundai Young Investigator and Scholar Hope Grants dedicated to Texas Children’s were presented on September 6 to Dr. Susan Blaney, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, during a Handprint Ceremony.

The awards will support the research of Drs. Sarah Injac and Alison Bertuch. Bertuch, director of the Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow Failure Program, is studying the role of DNA repair defects in leukemia predisposition in the Ribosomopathy Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. Injac, a Cancer Center physician-scientist, is conducting research on medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. To read more about their work, click here.

“Research is vital to our continued fight against cancer,” Blaney said. “We appreciate the continuous support provided by Hyundai Hope On Wheels gives, which allows us to continue our efforts, without interruption, to find a cure for all pediatric cancers.”

During the ceremony, children who are battling cancer at Texas Children’s dipped their hands in paint and placed their handprints on a white 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. Their colorful handprints on the official Hope Vehicle represent their individual and collective journeys, hopes and dreams.

“For 21 years, Hyundai and its dealers have partnered with physician scientist research teams from the top hospitals and institutions around the country in a quest to finally beat this disease,” says Scott Fink, Board Chair and Hyundai dealer owner, Hyundai of New Port Richey. “Hyundai’s contributions have helped to significantly improve childhood cancer cure rates to more than 80 percent. This is why every minute is precious and every second matters in the fight against pediatric cancer.”

HHOW remains one of the largest foundations in the nation to support medical institutions and efforts to support cutting edge pediatric cancer research. This year will reach $160 million in total lifetime funding since 1998 towards finding a cure. With this latest award, Texas Children’s has received $3.3M since 2008 from HHOW.

For more information about Hyundai Hope On Wheels and to view a list of our 2019 Hope On Wheels grant winners, please visit

September 4, 2019

Each year in September, Texas Children’s Cancer Center goes gold to honor the courageous journeys of our patients and families who have been touched by pediatric cancer and to create awareness about the challenges these children and their loved ones face. It is also a special time to honor the Cancer Center’s staff and everyone involved in the care and support of our patients.

Today, you will get a sneak peek of what’s to come this month, including the launch of a video series called “This is Cancer: Reflections from our patients.” The series documents the journeys of several families receiving care at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. Their stories illustrate in intimate detail what they’re experiencing and how to better support them.

In addition to this series, there are several events scheduled across the organization geared toward raising awareness about childhood cancer. Some of those event are listed below. Please check the Connect calendar and the Cancer Center’s Facebook page for additional details. Also, visit the Texas Children’s Blog for Cancer Center related posts throughout the month.

“We are proud to say that our Cancer Center helps children fight and defeat cancer every day,” said Dr. Susan Blaney, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “We hope you will stand with us in Going Gold for childhood cancer, so that together, we can continue to work on finding a cure for childhood cancer.”

Upcoming cancer awareness activities:

  • September 2-9 – McGovern Commons Water Wall will be lit gold in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • September 3 at 1 p.m. – West Campus Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event in the hospital’s main lobby
  • September 4 at 10:30 a.m. – Main Campus Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event starting on fourth floor of the Pavilion for Women and ending on The Auxiliary Bridge
  • September 5 at 1 p.m. – The Woodlands Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event in the hospital’s main lobby
  • September 5 at 6 p.m. – Vannie Cook Children’s Clinic in McAllen Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event
  • September 6 at 10 a.m. – The annual Hyundai Hope on Wheels Tour will stop at Texas Children’s in support of research and programs that bring us closer to better treatment and possible cures to cancer. The tour is a united effort of Hyundai dealers who travel the country to present Hyundai Scholar grants to children’s hospitals.
  • September 7 at 2 p.m. – The opening of and reception for the Periwinkle Foundation’s Making A Mark exhibit on The Auxiliary Bridge. The exhibit, which highlights the art and creative writing by children touched by cancer and blood disorders at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, will be on the bridge throughout the month.
  • September 21-22 – Houston City Hall and the Montrose bridges across Southwest Freeway will be lit gold in honor of National Cancer Awareness Month.

To learn more about Texas Children’s Cancer Center, click here.

Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre hosted her sixth virtual town hall that spotlighted our recent nursing accomplishments, system updates and our exciting partnership with Employee Health and Wellness that is engaging our nurses around helpful resources to enhance their own health and well-being. Read more

August 27, 2019

On August 17, more than 500 patients and families traveled from all over the country for the 2019 Texas Children’s Newborn Center family reunion. The Texas-themed event celebrated former patients who graduated from the Newborn Center in 2018 after spending 10 days or more in our neonatal intensive care units at Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The reunion was held at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women where parents shared stories of hope and triumph with other neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) families and reconnected with the nurses and doctors who delivered life-saving care to their critically ill babies.

During the reunion the families were able to visit with the employees, physicians and other families that they spent so much time with while being cared for in our NICU. On this day, families who unfortunately were unable to take their babies home also were remembered.

In addition to being reunited with Newborn Center Staff, the NICU reunion offered children’s entertainment including a DJ, games, photo booth, face painting, crafts, airbrush tattoos, appearances from Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob Square Pants and Pikachu, and guests enjoyed a good old-fashioned Texas barbecue.

The event was made possible in part by Texas Children’s NFAC Committee and Bad Pants, an organization that has raised more than $6 million over the past 20 years to support the Newborn Center through the annual Bad Pants Open golf tournament.

Mary Torre shares how participating in Nursing Shared Governance councils has helped her make a meaningful impact on patient care, and encourages her colleagues to participate too. By engaging in shared governance, nurses are involved in making decisions that impact their work environment and the way they deliver care. Read more