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How Shaving Heads Helps Childhood Cancer Patients

Friday, November 30, 2018

UI Health is a proud partner of the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which organizes head-shaving fundraising events to support childhood cancer research. This year, the team from the Children's Hospital University of Illinois raised nearly $20,000!

But what happens after everyone's head is neatly sheared? 

NBC5 Chicago visited UI Health to visit with Dr. Marie Lou Schmidt and her patient, 18-month-old Josie Volpe. Dr. Schmidt leads the UI Health/Rush/Stroger Children's Oncology Group clinical trials program, in which Josie a participant. 

Over the past 10 years, the group has received more than $2.1 million from St. Baldrick's to place patients in nearly 100 open clinical trials. These trials include front-line treatment for many types of childhood cancers; studies to determine the underlying biology of these diseases; and trials on new and emerging treatments, supportive care, and survivorship. The group received a $150,000 infrastructure grant from St. Baldrick's earlier this month.

"Without St. Baldrick's dedication to our patients, we would not have been able to grow and develop and engage so many patients in Children's Oncology Group research or enroll so many patients in clinical trials over the years," said Schmidt, head of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology at UI Health.

Josie is now in remission from a rare, blood cancer. Her mom, Kelley, says they were scared and worried, but participating in the trial was comforting because they had a fuller picture of Josie's treatment plan and knew what to expect.

"We're very grateful and happy that she had the opportunity to participate in the clinical trial and that there are opportunities out there like this for kids like Josie," Kelley said.