The Research Advantage: Highlights
As a member of the Children's Oncology Group, the world's most recognized pediatric cancer research organization, Children's is ranked among the top 10 institutions for patient enrollment in clinical trials. View the video above to learn more about Gina Senftner, a cancer patient who chose to participate in a clinical trial or read the full story.
- "At Children's, you walk in and they already know who you are. I get choked up because it's just an unbelievable experience," says Lynne Senftner, Gina's mother.
- On her choice to participate in a clinical trial, Gina says: "There's a lot of things when you get cancer, you can't control, like you can't control that you lose your hair or that you have to puke all the time. It's just nice to have one thing that you know that good will come out of it, like they'll find something that may or may not help others, but at least you've tried it and it's something that you can participate in and it's like you can say yes or no."
The Research Advantage: The Full Story
Giving kids with cancer full access to clinical trials
An oncology nurse by training, Lynne Senftner was used to taking care of patients with cancer; however, she never imagined that one day her own daughter would be diagnosed with the disease. So when 14-year-old Gina was diagnosed in 2009 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, her parents took Gina where they were told she could receive the best care possible – Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
"Gina's diagnosis came as such a shock," says Lynne. "We came to Children's right away."
A leader in clinical trials
Children's is among the largest pediatric cancer treatment centers in the nation. As a member of the Children's Oncology Group, the world's most recognized pediatric cancer research organization, Children's is also ranked among the top 10 institutions for patient enrollment in clinical trials. Based on her age and diagnosis, Bruce Bostrom, MD, pediatric oncologist, recommended that Gina consider a clinical trial evaluating a new medication for patients with her type of childhood leukemia.
"Such research gives us the ability to offer our patients the best available cutting-edge therapies," he says. "Many trials evaluate new drugs that may not be available yet but that offer an increased chance of a cure of their disease."
Dr. Bostrom explained to Gina and her parents what the trial would involve each step of the way; deciding whether or not to take part, however, was ultimately up to Gina.
"That was a good feeling, to know that I had input in my own care," says Gina.
Participating in the trial meant frequent visits for Gina's infusion treatments and lab work, all of which took place in the C.H. Robinson Infusion Center at Children's. More than double its previous space, the new Hematology/ Oncology Clinic, which houses the infusion center, has triple the number of infusion rooms, a welcoming atmosphere, and a large staff of research associates who monitor each patient's progress throughout the 100-plus ongoing trials.
Today, Gina's leukemia is in remission. She completed her one-year clinical trial in 2010, and continues in the maintenance phase of her treatment. Gina takes special pride in her decision to participate in the trial.
"When you get cancer, there are a lot of things you can't control, like losing your hair or getting sick all the time," says Gina. "I felt like being part of this trial was something I could control. I wanted to do it to let other kids have a better outcome and a greater chance at getting better."
Adds her mother: "It's devastating when your child is diagnosed with cancer. Children's is truly looking to improve the care and the outcomes for children with cancer."