For the Kids @ UTK Brought to you by: The Medicine Men

The Problem

In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children. Over 15,000 kids will have to deal with the reality of the day to day battle with cancer before the age of 19. If you or someone you love has ever required extensive medical treatment, you undoubtedly also know about the financial burden that can accompany those treatments. We, The Medicine Men, believe that the last thing those families with children enduring this struggle should have to worry about is money. And this, plain and simple, is why we have chosen to support For the Kids @ UTK.

  • 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old
  • Every year 250,000 new cases of childhood cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide
  • Every day there are almost 700 new cases of childhood cancer developing around the world
  • Contrary to popular belief, childhood cancer research is vastly underfunded
  • 2/3 of Childhood cancer patients will have long-lasting chronic conditions from treatment
  • Since 1995, For the Kids at UTK has raised over $1,000,000 in donations for East TN Children's Hospital Hematology and Oncology clinics
  • https://www.alexslemonade.org/childhood-cancer-facts-numbers

about for the kids @ UTK

For the Kids @ UTK has undergone some interesting changes in their long history. Back in 1995 an incredible and dedicated group of students founded their own organization at the University of Tennessee. They called themselves Dance Marathon. Today, the organization is known as For the Kids, with the mission of helping the children in East Tennessee Children's Hospital remaining just as fervent.

For The Kids' reach is not just limited to here in East Tennessee. The organization has chapters set up in schools in other states as well! While many other chapters are operating within schools in the SEC there are other schools like Georgia Tech who have also set up their own chapters of the foundation. While your donations are going specifically to the chapter of For the Kids at the University of Tennessee, you will be supporting an organization that is much larger than any one school or any one hospital for that matter. Any donation and support for For the Kids is felt across the country.

All money raised for For The Kids @ UTK goes toward aiding families in need of vital medicines not covered by insurance, wigs for children who have lost their hair during chemotherapy treatments, travel and food expenses for families outside of the Knoxville area who travel here for their child's well being, therapy, consultations with medical professionals, memory boxes for families who have had children pass on, funeral expenses, and so much more. With the organizations goal being to aid children suffering from Cancer and Blood disorders here in Knoxville, all proceeds For the Kids raises goes to the Oncology and Hematology departments of East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

What do they need?

As you can guess, the only limit to how much any charitable organization can help a cause is how many donations they receive. For the Kids @ UTK was able to raise over $63,000 in 2016 which is an incredibly impressive mark for any organization. What is even more impressive than that is they have increased their total funds raised by $20,000 every year since the University of Tennessee chapter was founded. For 2017, they hope to raise an ambitious goal of $70,000 and we, The Medicine Men, hope that this fundraiser will be a chance to really kick start their 2017 efforts.

As stated in the 'About FTK' section above, For the Kids is a pretty big organization with chapters in schools across the country. One interesting issue that the chapter here in Knoxville faces is they have had trouble raising funds on the same level as some of the other chapters across the country. For the Kids has determined that they have yet to find a campaign strategy that really speaks to our student body here at the University of Tennessee.

How Can You Help?

  • Donating to our generosity page!
  • Liking, sharing, and following our social media websites as well as keeping up with those run by For the Kids themselves!
  • Tell your friends and family!
  • If you are a student at The University of Tennessee, FTK would be thrilled if you would consider joining their organization! Find more info on their Facebook page.

Who You Are Helping

Your donations will go directly to benefitting children and families in the oncology and hematology departments at East Tennessee Children's Hospital

How much we have raised thus far: $365

Research

Economic Issues Surrounding Childhood Cancer

by Lucas Harrison

Today, there are many economical issues surrounding childhood cancer. These concerns include underfunding of childhood cancer and employment struggles of parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, just to name a few. It is important to understand these difficulties that families unfortunately face in a time of such chaos. This section will further communicate these brutal economical struggles that families face every day with anticipation of providing our society with a more thorough understanding of these key issues in attempt of furthering their knowledge, enabling them to take action as they see fit.

The issue of underfunding of childhood cancer is inevitable. Undoubtedly, the costs of chemotherapy, prescription drugs, and other treatment are outrageously expensive. Unfortunately, these costs of treatment fluctuate each day. In 2015, the National Cancer Institute had an annual budget of $4.93 billion dollars. Disturbingly, only 4%, $198 million, was directly allocated to childhood cancer (Childhood Cancer Facts). While there is no sum of money that could instantly allow the National Cancer Institute to cure childhood cancer, this statistic is evident that childhood cancer is by no means on the top of their priority list and extremely underfunded. Zoe Read and Jonathan Agin are two, of many, authors whose literature argue that childhood cancer is vastly underfunded and suggest that various changes must be made to the National Cancer Institute’s overall funding. The federal government’s core budgeting purpose is almost inconsequential when it comes to childhood cancer. Every disease population argues that their sector is tremendously underfunded, but the National Cancer Institute marketplace is full of individuals actively fighting for “a piece of the pie” of the overall budget (Agin 2013). Due to the low funding of childhood cancer from the National Cancer Institute, critical research goes untested, therefore giving doctors no option but to prescribe the same regimens that, while possibly successful, can cause many severely damaging side effects. Researchers are working strenuously to test new theories and treatments, but feel as if they are being refrained (Read 2013). Read’s literature contains a very heartbreaking story of a boy named Danny, who was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The text goes on to tell Danny’s saddening story while also incorporating his father’s thoughts about his son’s life and how these medications possess significant likelihoods of disturbing side effects in the future (Read 2013). These authors, along with many others, believe that society must take this issue into their own hand if this issue is ever going to change. For example, Again states that we cannot continue to be dictated and controlled by other interest groups or congress.

Another economical issue that many families face is work-related struggles of parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, more specifically fear of termination. Employment scares arise when parents have to take a leave of absence to be with their sick child. Sadly, parents that miss work for extended periods of time are only protected so much by laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. For instance, even with these laws, parents are often faced with threats of termination from their employer because of absence or decreased productivity. Moreover, if a parent gets fired, then their household income drops dramatically intensifying the complications of paying their children’s medical bills even more (Staci 2016). In a study conducted by Karolinska Instutet, researchers concluded that family income severely decreases after their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Mother’s annual income declines by 21 percent, while father’s annual income decreases by 10 percent (Wiley, 2016).

The difficulties that these distressed families face each day, while unavoidable, entail an unnecessarily amount of economical issues that will affect them for the rest of their lives. No family should have to experience these struggles and there is no reason for us not to take affirmative action (Agin 2013). We must come together, as a society, and reach out to the community and engage on social media, so that our voices are heard and our objective is clearly made. It would be very difficult for someone to argue that our children’s lives do not matter and that a change should not be made (Agin 2013).

Financial Burden of Childhood Cancer

by Andrew Duggan

Costs of healthcare are currently skyrocketing at a rapid pace. Particularly, costs of childhood cancer treatment are increasingly steep compared to adult and geriatric cancer costs. The costs of hospitalization and care present the heaviest financial burden, with out-patient treatment and physician assisted treatment following close behind (de Oliveira 2016). Using cancer registry data from 1995 to 2009 in children 14 years and younger, the most prevalent type of cancer found was leukemia with 36% out of 4,396 patients (de Oliveira 2016).

In a study conducted analyzing the mean costs of the most prevalent types of cancer among children, the mean cost of leukemia was $55,700 (Warner 2015). The costs of leukemia treatment were the highest compared to others such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which has a mean cost of $46,900 (Warner 2015). It is understood that the increasing cost of treatment could possibly be influenced by unforeseen circumstances which lead to procedures during treatment. These procedures can be caused by dehydration, infection, and increased amounts of pain which often lead to an increased amount of time in hospitalization (Warner 2015). During the process of a child’s cancer treatment, unforeseen circumstances and procedures seem to present themselves for most patients. In fact, nearly 20% of families reported at least 5 or more unexpected procedures which lead to hospitalization. Procedures that require hospitalization directly accumulate more healthcare costs and increased financial burdens on the families of patients. Furthermore, approximately 35% of families reported more than 5 hospitalizations after 1 year of diagnosis. It is imperative to manage these acute situations and to work to control them to subdue the lofty costs of childhood cancer treatment (Warner 2015).

A primary reason for financial burdens of childhood cancer treatment is the schedule complications that arise with parents’ careers after their child is diagnosed. It is reported that most families suffered financial burden through quitting or changing their job because of their child being diagnosed with cancer (Warner 2015). In most cases, one parent is forced to end their career and become a primary caregiver for the child. This could potentially put the family under severe financial stress if they depend on the salaries of both parents. In this study, an astounding 84% of families reported experiencing work disruptions and schedule conflicts. Furthermore, approximately 20% of families reported losing a staggering 40% of their annual income from these work disruptions during their child’s cancer treatment (Warner 2015). Throughout the course of childhood cancer treatment, there are two significant financial peaks. The first financial peak is at the time of diagnosis, and costs are often difficult to manage because of the financial shock and unexpectedness of the diagnosis. The second financial peak is further down the path of treatment when children experience side effects from treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation (Warner 2015). It is important families act quickly to harness their finances and avoid a financial downfall when their child is diagnosed with cancer, seeking professional help from a financial advisor to avoid severe amounts of long-term debt.

The costs of childhood cancer treatment can differ depending on where the treatment is administered, and the type of care the patient is receiving. In a study conducted comparing the different divisions of care, hospital outpatient and physician office treatment are the primary forms of care (Avalere 2012). Comparatively, the costs for hospital outpatient care is 53% higher than a physician office setting (Avalere 2012). In episodes of chemotherapy treatment lasting 12 months, the average cost for office-managed settings was $66,826 compared to hospital outpatients staggering costs of $102,395 (Avalere 2012). These statistics reinforce the fact that increased hospitalization due to unforeseen procedures directly results in higher costs of cancer treatment.

PTSS and PTSD

by Robert Welch

Many people believe that when somebody has beat cancer, the battle is over and the patient has no more worries. It turns out that worries is one of the problems that these patients have once they have beaten cancer. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD and PTSS for short, are two issues that many cancer survivors deal with every day of their life. While this disorder is usually associated with people who have been to war or have had a traumatic event happen in their life, cancer patients also have forms of PTSS and PTSD. According to a review done in the Clinical Psychology Review, a patient needs to have symptoms occur for at least one month following the traumatic event that happened, and it has to cause serious problems to a person’s everyday life (Kangas, Henry, & Bryant 2002). In this review, Kangas, Henry, & Bryant, explain that patients who have cancer could be at risk to develop a reaction to stress during their lifetime because of what they went through (Kangas, Henry, & Bryant 2002).

One of the first things that cancer survivors deal with when they are done fighting the cancer is denial. According to the Clinical Psychology Review, post-traumatic cancer patients, “Furthermore, the documented denial that many cancer patients display in response to their condition (Wool, 1998) may inhibit emotional processing of their experience (Kangas, Henry, & Bryant 2002).” When these patients even feel like they are sick at all they first thing that they immediately think has happened is that they cancer is coming back. In their brain, it is the first thing that they believe is that the worst-case scenario has happened because the last time they felt sick the worst-case scenario had happened and they were diagnosed with cancer. According to research done in the journal of Traumatic Stress, it does not matter how old the patient is, there is still a chance that they can get the symptoms of PTSD (Andrykowski & Cordova 1998). It goes on to say that one of the ways that PTSD can flare back up is when another traumatic thing happens in their life (Andrykowski & Cordova 1998). This makes sense because when bad things happen to people they start to think about all of the different bad things that have happened to them in their life.

Now that PTSD has become so prominent in people who survive cancer, there needs to be treatment to help out these patients. According to the Journal of Psychological Nursing and Health Services, there is a new treatment for PTSD coming out of the Walter Reed Army Hospital called stellate ganglion block (Journal of Psychological Nursing and Health Services 4). Stellate ganglion block is a, “SGB is a 10-minute procedure during which local anesthesia is injected next to the stellate ganglion, a collection of nerves in the neck (Journal of Psychological Nursing and Health Services 2015).” This procedure is a new thing that can help out these patients who have PTSD. There is also another treatment that is a little more unorthodox that is also used to treat PTSD in cancer survivors. So many people with PTSD can sleep they will use medicinal cannabis so they will not have traumatic instances while they are sleeping (Bonn-Miller, Babson, Vandrey 2014). While from the outside it may look unorthodox to be using cannabis, it is one of the most effective ways to treat this problem.

Mental Effects of Handling Loss

by Hayden Henson

Every year, there are over fifty thousand children that die while still under the care of their parents here in the United States (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics). It is safe to assume that the vast majority of child deaths are survived by their two parents. Therefore, there are at least one hundred thousand parents every year who have to find a way to live past the loss of a child. This can be one of the hardest things any human being can go through. This loss is linked to both complex and damaging “grief reactions” (Prigerson, 1999). The hope is that in comprehending these grief reactions, the problems that grieving parents face will make more sense and society as a whole can better understand what those people going through this need in order to help them get through this time in their life.

Here it is important to define these “grief reactions”. In the case of parents who have been informed that their child is afflicted with some sort of fatal disease, the reactions come quickly and swiftly. Things usually begin with a very numb phase, where the parents are disconnected from the world they are in. Unfortunately, numbness is very often followed by extreme bouts of anger but this is somewhat dependent on the child’s state as well. Many times if the child is old enough to understand his or her surroundings and they are still aware of said surroundings, the outbursts of anger are often bottled up and often can spill out on to other loved ones, especially the spouse (Bowlby, 1980). This is often followed up by disbelief of the diagnosis as well. The next step, and often most destructive is the self-blame phase. It is often considered one of the most dangerous stages because of the variety of ways that people react when blaming themselves for something. A mix of all of these feelings often carry over parents during the entire duration of their childs illness (Bowlby, 1980).

Once parents have lost their child, the marriage of the two often undergoes challenges of its own that several marriages do not survive. “Research on the impact of bereavement as a trauma has emphasized significant negative psychological and health outcomes” (Psychol, 2008). Some studies have found that bereaved parents, those who reported to have intense bouts of emotional loneliness and severe symptoms of depression, are at risk for suicidal “idealization”. One study in particular found that often grieving mothers were at a heightened risk for their first psychiatric hospitalizations (Stroebe, 2005). These are hospitalizations that would probably not come otherwise. This same study found that risk of psychiatric hospitalization in mothers remains at a notably higher rate than usual for an average of five years after the loss of a child. Tragically, studies have shown that across the board that mortality rates are higher among grieving parents as well (It is important to note that this topic in particular has not been investigated in America quite like it has other countries. This study was Dutch) (Li, 2003). These parents, especially mothers, when grieving the loss of a child showed higher rates of death due to unnatural causes (This includes both accidents and suicides) for up to three years after the loss of the child. Studies show that the cause of this may have been a handful of things. Stress levels of parents, again especially mothers, were increased exponentially which has proven to lead to a weakened immune system and often poor health decisions. This includes things like smoking, elevated levels of alcohol consumption, and other destructive behaviors (Li, 2003).

The physical and mental anguish that these grieving parents often go through personally often leaks into their personal life and justifiably so. No person should have to endure what these parents have to endure. “Difficulties have been noted for parental marital functioning, in particular” (Najman, 1993). The divorce rates indicated by some studies is said to be at least eight times higher than those of parents who do not lose a child that has cancer or a life threatening illness (Lehman, 1987).

About us

We are students at the University of Tennessee determined to raise money and awareness for the organization For the Kids @ UTK. We, the Medicine Men, need YOUR help to support these families so they may return to being their for their child and not having to deal with the extra burden of paying costly medical bills.

Harrison Welch, Hayden Henson, Lucas Harrison, and Andy Duggan (left to right)

Andy Duggan - An organization that helps with the endless battle against cancer such as For the Kids will always hold a special place in my heart. Two of my grandparents fought and lost the battle to cancer when I was growing up, and I wish they could have interacted with an organization as generous and caring as For the Kids during their treatment. I was very close to my grandmother and grandfather, and losing them was a difficult time in my life. I am passionate about helping this organization because I feel a personal relation with these families battling childhood cancer and blood disorders through dealing with fighting cancer with my family members. My favorite aspect of For the Kids is the coverage of medical bills, traveling expenses, food expenses, and anything else that may benefit families who are traveling with their child to give them treatment. With our goal to raise money for these families, hopefully we may alleviate some financial stress and make a difference in their lives.

Harrison Welch - Cancer is something that should obviously be taken seriously. Every family in the world is affected by cancer at one point in their life. For me, as a kid in middle school, I had not understood how much cancer can affect a family, but I was about to find out. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We had just gotten home from school when my dad told us to go sit on the steps in the front hall because he and my mom had something that they needed to tell us. My brother and I did not understand what was going on until my mom spoke up and said, “Boys, I went to the doctor today, and they diagnosed me with breast cancer.” It was shocking to not only us, but to everyone in our family. For the next 6 months, each family member struggled with being able to cope with having one who has cancer. She ended up surviving, but lost all of her hair because of the chemotherapy and treatments. I could not imagine it being my little brother who was the one that had the cancer. Kids are the ones who need the most help, and kids who have cancer are need even more help. We as the medicine men are trying to make life a little easier for those families because I remember what I went through and I want to make it a little better for these families

Hayden Henson - Having never been a parent, I will never say I could fully relate to a mother or father whose child is struggling with the day to day battles that accompany cancer and blood disorders. Nor would I ever say that I could relate to the child in the fight itself. I’ve been blessed to have lived a healthy life up to this point. But my family is another story. My dad and uncle both have very severe cases of Crohn’s disease and I have seen both of them laid up, vulnerable in hospital beds as frail as two men their ages can be. My Aunt Donna lost her life while battling the same disease. My Aunt Lisa beat breast cancer. So while I may not know what it’s like to have a child with these life threatening illnesses, I am no stranger to loved ones dealing with health conditions that reduce them to such fragile states of living. So when we were searching for organizations to run this campaign for, For The Kids @ UTK spoke to me. It put my families healt situations in a different light. I’d never even really thought about the impacts struggles similar to those my family has had would have on a child. And that broke my heart. Once I had this realization, there was no turning back. I knew who we were running this campaign for.

Lucas Harrison - Throughout this campaign, I have been deeply touched to know what impact I have made to these families in need. With my recent experience of going through the struggle of a sick family member, I have been able to relate to these difficulties that these families face each and every day. My youngest cousin was born premature and stayed several weeks in the hospital with the fear that he may not survive. This experience was very troubling for me and my family as we felt very frightened that we may not be able to welcome the newest member to our family. I can’t imagine anyone else going through a time like such, especially having to deal with the extra burden of paying for their children’s medical bills. My sister works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital which has also given me another perception of what hardships families face. Her dedication to her job makes me so relieved to know her assistance and support for these families provide much needed comfort. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to operate this campaign so that I may help as much as I possibly can.

Thank you letter

Thank You Letter

May 2, 2017

Greetings All,

It has been nearly three months since our group set out with the goal of helping a local charitable organization here in Knoxville. While this fundraiser was for a class, it has impacted every member of our group on a deeply personal level and now we are here, nearing the end. Our goal was simple but without the help of a few different people none of this would have been possible.

To Dr. Swanson, thank you for encouraging all of the groups in our class forward and being clear and descriptive in what you wanted from us. You have taught us so much over this semester about how to effectively convey a message to a public audience. This assignment would have been chaos without your help.

To For The Kids @ UTK, first of all, we would just like to thank you for everything that you do. Your cause deserves the upmost respect and you will always have support from our group. After discovering this organization, the search for a charitable organization to support was over. We would also like to extend a very warm thank you to Ashley Job, who was our contact throughout this whole process and provided us with all of the information we required and then some. As a senior in your final semester of college, I know life is turbulent enough as it is, so we want you to know it means the world to us for your to have devoted as much time to our cause as you did.

And lastly, everyone who has supported our cause. There is no way we could adequately express our gratitude to you. Whether you donated, spread the word, or just learned more about this incredible organization we chose to support, you helped us so much.

All the best,

The Medicine Men

Andy Duggan, Lucas Harrison, Harrison Welch, Hayden Henson

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