HOUSTON --September is national childhood cancer awareness month. It's a yearly designation intended to generate more attention to the disease that can affect a wide range of children, from babies to older teenagers.
Today, M D Anderson Children's Hospital turned one of their events into a celebration of survivors, and a fundraiser.
There was a flash mob in the hospital atrium performed by the medical professionals who attend to the young patients. They broke out in dance with a Justin Timberlake song providing the rhythm. "I practiced the steps with my daughter," said PA Donna Bell.
It wasn't just a diversion, but also a celebration of the kids and their families who make the journey through cancer treatment. Pulled into the flash mob was 10-year-old Elise Robinson who survived bone cancer.
Fitted with a prosthetic lower leg, she danced along in the group. "This was fun," she said with a smile. "I want to be a nurse here one day. If a kid is nervous about chemotherapy, I can tell them about it; not to be afraid, because there's something better ahead."
Her mother, Jennifer Robinson said Elise's spirit and courage helped her cope with her daughter's diagnosis. Elise completed treatment successfully, and now has routine scans.
Advances in children's cancer treatment has created an 80 per cent survival rate, said Dr Cindy L Schwartz, who the division head of M D Anderson's pediatric program. " The celebration here is that so many children are growing up and getting jobs and doing all the things they want in their lives " said. "But we have to work on the other 20 per cent."
The hospital has developed corporate sponsors to help with children's cancer programs that focus on treatment and also supporting the families.
Among them, Kendra Scott, a popular jewelry designer, whose moderately-priced pieces are wildly popular. In the hospital atrium, a pop-up Kendra Scott store appeared, creating long lines of customers.
"Twenty percent of the sales will go to the children's cancer program," Sheena Wilde, of the jewelry firm, said. "Kendra's step-father was diagnosed and treated for cancer at M D Anderson, and she was so impressed with the care and the people who provided it that she wants to give back."