Young cancer patients Nicholas Modestin, (age 4) and Paulina Lopez (age 13) and their families joined, physicians, administrators and staff from The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s (TBHC) Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Division to accept a $100,000 Hope on Wheels Grant from local Hyundai dealers and representatives from Hyundai Motor America. The Hyundai grants are given in conjunction with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September to support pediatric cancer research and programs dedicated to improving the lives of children with cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children under 14. Since 1991, TBHC’s Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Division has provided state-of-the-art compassionate medical care to children and adolescents with blood disorders and cancer, the majority of whom receive some form of public assistance. As Brooklyn’s only member of the Children’s Oncology Group, an international collaborative associated with the National Cancer Institute, the division is able to offer patients access to the latest clinical trials. It has over 800 patient visits a year, with approximately 70 patients in active treatment or in various stages of follow up.
“We are very proud to have been selected for a Hope on Wheels Grant, and we are very grateful to Hyundai Motor America and its dealers,” said TBHC president and CEO Richard B. Becker, MD. “This grant will help us offer even better care to underserved families in Brooklyn struggling with the emotional, social and economic challenges of caring for a child with cancer.”
According to Dr. Swayam Sadanandan, Chief of the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology division, Funds from The Hope on Wheels grant will be used to remodel the division’s out-patient center and create a comprehensive mental health program that includes neuropsychological evaluations, which are not eligible for reimbursement. Due to high rates of poverty and access to medical care, many children in Brooklyn are diagnosed later and, as a result, have poorer outcomes than more affluent patients.
“While we’ve made progress over the last few decades and now have an 85 percent cure rate, cancer still takes more lives than any other childhood disease,” said John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.” “This September, in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Hyundai will shine a nationwide spotlight on this cause and provide more than $6 million in grants for pediatric cancer research and support programs. We love taking on big challenges at Hyundai, and we can think of no more worthy challenge than finding a cure for all forms of pediatric cancer.”
On hand for the presentation were Felix and Adriana Modestin, whose four-year-old son Nicholas was diagnosed at age 2-1/2 with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
“We were sent to Memorial Sloan Kettering for a second opinion, but decided to stay at The Brooklyn Hospital Center because it was closer to home and our family feels comfortable with the doctors, nurses, and the other families we’ve bonded with,” says Mr. Modestin, adding that Nicholas initially had a severe reaction to chemotherapy, but is now walking, swimming and attended a camp for kids with cancer this summer. “Nicholas is tough and his fighting sprit helps him beat this battle.”
Also on hand was Justa Lopez, whose 13-year-old daughter Paulina just celebrated her one-year anniversary of completing treatment for ALL at TBHC.
“TBHC did everything to help Paulina recover and get back to living a normal life,” says Mrs. Lopez whose daughter entered the eighth grade this month.
Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States. Every day 40 children are diagnosed with cancer – 15,000 new cases each year – and one in five of those children will not survive. Hyundai has been committed to helping kids fight cancer since its Hope on Wheels™ program was founded 12 years ago and this September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – Hyundai will reach out and ask others to join them in bringing hope to children and their families fighting cancer. In addition to encouraging consumer awareness, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will donate $6.8 million to children’s hospitals and non-profit organizations across the U.S. to support medical research and programs that improve quality of life for children with cancer.