Thinking Beyond the Cure

Conference offers tips for childhood cancer survivors

Claire Choszcyk
Claire Choszczyk doesn't remember having cancer, but understanding the effects of her treatment will help her lead a better life.

Mary Ann Choszczyk is a nurse. In fact, her family is full of nurses. But even with all that medical knowledge, Choszczyk didn't realize all the long-term effects her daughter, Claire, would face as a childhood cancer survivor.

"The concept of late-term effects was something I still had not followed through on. In some ways, I thought we were done. And in many ways we were: There's been no recurrence, no disability. She doesn't even remember having cancer because she was so young," Choszczyk said. "Going to the Beyond the Cure conference made me so much more tuned in."

The U-M Cancer Center will host "Beyond the Cure," a conference for childhood cancer survivors and families, on Nov. 8 on the U-M medical campus. Designed for children who have been off therapy for at least six months as well as adolescent and adult survivors of childhood cancer, the conference helps prepare families for issues childhood cancer survivors may face as they grow up.

"We want to educate families about the potential issues they may face following treatment," said Marcia Leonard, director of the Cancer Center's Childhood Survivorship Program. "We also want to inspire them to find ways to live life to the fullest."

The conference will discuss issues related to fertility; potential problems survivors may face in school and work; stress management; and nutrition. The Pediatric Advocacy Group/Michigan Poverty Law Program will offer tips on how to advocate for medical insurance as well as school and work accommodations.

For Choszczyk, the conference prompted her to take Claire for a neuropsychiatric evaluation to address potential academic problems early.

"The thing I took away from the conference was to watch her academically and to get a jump on it," she said. "It just makes me pay a little closer attention to her."

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Thrive Issue: 
Summer, 2008