PORTLAND, Ore. — Kenna Warsinske was just 19 years old when she learned she had cancer. She also learned that as she fought this life-threatening disease, the treatments that could save her might be depriving her of having children later in life.
Kenna is one of approximately 70,000 cancer patients in their reproductive years who are diagnosed annually. Although changes in reproductive function are now recognized as prevalent side effects of cancer therapy, Kenna is learning that she has fertility preservation options through the OHSU Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program at the Knight Cancer Institute.
The program is unique in the nation and the only one of its type in Oregon devoted to developing and sharing more effective methods to diagnose, treat, follow and care for young adults with cancer aged 15 to 40. Through OHSU’s partnership with Fertile Hope, a national advocacy group that provides support and education about fertility, Kenna was able to access grant funding to preserve her eggs for fertility treatment in the future. Because of that link, the chance to be a mom is still within her grasp.
Next week, Fertile Hope will recognize the OHSU Young Adult Oncology Program at the Knight Cancer Institute as a leader in addressing fertility in cancer patients with its Center of Excellence designation. OHSU will be one of only seven healthcare facilities in the nation to hold this honor.
“This is a time when these patients are fighting for their lives, and to be able to plan for something they may not access for years to come can allow them to be hopeful about the future,” said Brandon Hayes-Lattin, M.D., director of the OHSU Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program, and co-chairman of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance.
The award will be presented next week during National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week at an event featuring Eric Shanteau as keynote speaker. Shanteau, an Olympic swimmer who delayed cancer treatment to participate in the Beijing games, is now back as a young cancer survivor and holds the world’s fastest 200-meter breast stroke time. The event will be Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in the Multnomah Athletic Club and is free and open to the public. It’s part of a weeklong effort to raise awareness about the obstacles young people with cancer face, and the resources available to help them.
Steve Cole, Ph.D., vice president of Research at Hope Lab, also will be a guest at OHSU. HopeLab developed Re-Mission, a video game to help young cancer patients take control of their disease. Cole will be speaking with Hayes-Lattin at a free seminar titled “Adolescents and Young Adults: From Diagnosis Through Survivorship.” The free lecture is open to the public and will take place Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in the OHSU Center for Health and Healing on the South Waterfront.
Results of a large randomized controlled trial recently published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that playing Re-Mission increased teen cancer patients’ sense of power and control over cancer and helped them stay on course with chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments. OHSU was one of the original trial sites. HopeLab hopes to receive feedback from patients during this visit for future revisions to the game. Cole will also be sharing this new tool with doctors.
The OHSU Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program is a charter member of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance, a program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Monday, April 6, 6 to 8 p.m.: The Stupid Cancer Radio Show – Live Internet Broadcast — A special Young Adult Cancer Week show featuring interviews with Brandon Hayes-Lattin, M.D., and Heidi Adams, founder, Planet Cancer. Go to www.StupidCancerShow.com for a live stream.
Tuesday, April 7, 7 p.m.: Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults: From Diagnosis through Survivorship — A free seminar open to the public, withBrandon Hayes-Lattin, M.D.; andSteve Cole, Ph.D., of Hope Lab. The talk will take place in the OHSU Center for Health and Healing, 3rd floor. To register, call 503 494-1122 or go to www.ohsuhealth.com/seminar.
Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m.: Adolescent and Young Adult Celebration – An event with the keynoteby AYA cancer survivor Eric Shanteau, 2008 Olympic swimmer. It is free and open to the public and will be a celebration of the strength of Adolescent and Young Adult cancer survivors and the accomplishments of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Fertile Hope, a national cancer advocacy non-profit group, will present OHSU with a Center of Excellence award. The event will take place at theMultnomah Athletic Club, 1849 S.W. Salmon Street, Portland.
About the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute — With the latest treatments, technologies and 300 research studies, including dozens of clinical trials, it is the only cancer center between Sacramento and Seattle designated by the National Cancer Institute. It is an honor earned only by the nation’s top cancer centers, and shared among the more than 500 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff who work together at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to reduce the impact of cancer.
About The Lance Armstrong Foundation — At the Lance Armstrong Foundation, we fight for the 28 million people around the world living with cancer today. There can be – and should be – life after cancer for more people. That’s why we kick in at the moment of diagnosis, giving people the resources and support they need to fight cancer head-on. We find innovative ways to raise awareness, fund research and end the stigma about cancer that many survivors face. We connect people and communities to drive social change, and we call for state, national and world leaders to help fight this disease. Anyone anywhere can join our fight against cancer. Join us at http://www.LIVESTRONG.org