Thriving after Childhood Cancer
The mission of the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic is to educate survivors about the possible late effects that may occur as a result of the therapy they received and monitor them closely for these effects. Appointments are available for ongoing, annual care, as well as single consultations.
Understanding the Survivorship Clinic
Who is eligible?
Eligible individuals must have been diagnosed with childhood cancer at least five years prior, and must have completed therapy at least two years prior to joining the Survivorship Clinic.
What to expect
What happens during a visit to the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic?
In this multidisciplinary clinic, survivors meet with a physician, survivorship clinic coordinator, social worker, neuropsychologist and cancer geneticist. Visits include:
- Personalized education about the survivor’s cancer therapy and risk for late effects. Survivors receive an individualized treatment summary outlining total chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and other interventions during treatment.
- Evaluation for late effects by a physician. Each survivor is assessed for potential long-term complications that may affect the individual’s quality of life or predispose him or her to future health risks. Appropriate coordination of care with additional specialists is made, if necessary. Each survivor also receives a customized plan for long-term follow-up and surveillance testing to monitor risk-based late effects.
- Meeting with the social worker to discuss school, work, behavioral, emotional, relationship or financial concerns, health insurance questions and survivorship resources.
- Assessment by neuropsychologist for any neurocognitive late effects from previous treatments.
- Meeting with a cancer geneticist to help identify whether the survivor has a personal or family history associated with a hereditary cancer syndrome.
What is a late effect?
Late effects can create challenges for various aspects of growth, development, and organ functions include:
- Bone health
- Dental health
- Emotional health
- Heart health
- Kidney health
- Liver health
- Lung health
- Thyroid health
- Vision and hearing
This growing population of long-term survivors is at risk for adverse effects related to their cancer and subsequent therapy. These adverse effects, known as late effects, may not become apparent until years later. Approximately two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors experience at least one late effect.
Transition to adult care
Once a survivor reaches age 30, he or she moves from the Survivorship Clinic to an adult primary care physician, and the team provides a packet to the new physician to ensure an easy transition.
Resources for Adolescents and Young Adults
A number of resources are available to adolescents and young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer or had a loved one with cancer.
Websites, Podcasts and Apps
- Cactus Society
- Cancer Exercise App (ISO only)
- Cancer.gov (National Cancer Institute)
- Critical Mass: The Young Adult
- Elephants and Tea
- Managing Mental Health After A Cancer Diagnosis (Georgetown University School of Nursing)
- Stupid Cancer
- Teen Cancer America
- The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
- Young Adult Cancer Connection: Meet your cell mates
- Young Survival Coalition
Local Support and Supportive Opportunities
Scholarships for Pediatric Cancer Survivors
A number of organizations offer college scholarships for pediatric cancer survivors. Explore individual scholarships, scholarship directories and other resources here.
- Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation: Awards scholarships to cancer survivors younger than 21. This is an essay competition. The deadline is in early April.
- APHON Scholarship: Central PA APHON is able to provide monetary support to individuals who have received treatment at Penn State Children’s Hospital for a hematological disorder or cancer and are planning to obtain a post high-school education. Contact your social worker for an application.
- Brian Morden Memorial Scholarship: Applicants should be U.S. citizens and high school graduates. Their higher education course of study should include either music, some aspect of technology or medicine. Applications are due in March.
- Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope: Provides grants to young adults 18 to 28 years old who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, including cancer. The “life grants” are intended to be used to fulfill a dream or pay for a project that will make a difference in the recipient’s life and the lives of others. This award is focused on community service.
- Cancer Survivor Fund: Provides scholarships for both undergraduate education and new prosthetics to cancer survivors. Requires an essay and volunteer commitment.
- Cancer For College: Applications are taken between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31 each year. No age restrictions; applicant must be a cancer survivor. Several scholarships are available through one application.
- Christine B Foundation: Student must be a high school graduate enrolling or enrolled as a college undergraduate. Student must be attending a college in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut or New York.
- Eagles Fly For Leukemia: Must be a childhood cancer survivor of any type of cancer. This program offers one full-tuition scholarship to St. Joseph’s and one full-tuition scholarship to Drexel, as well as other scholarships of a maximum of $3,000.
- Faith, Hope, and Love Jesus Inc.: Must have or have had a blood disorder or cancer diagnosed before the age of 18. Applications are due by May 1.
- Howard Honigfeld Scholarship: The applicant must be a cancer survivor, graduating from high school by June of the year of application, or be currently enrolled in college working toward their undergraduate degree. Minimum GPA of 2.5.
- Jackie Spellman Scholarship Foundation: Open to U.S. citizens who have been impacted in some way by leukemia or lymphoma, either as survivors, individuals diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, or individuals who have a member of their immediate family who has or had leukemia or lymphoma while living in the same household. Eligible students include high school seniors or those attending community college, a four-year university or graduate school. Student must have a minimum un-weighted 3.0 GPA.
- John Foy & Associates Strong Arm Leukemia Scholarship: Applicant must be a college student who has battled leukemia or whose life has been affected by it.
- Kallan’s Klan: Kallan’s Klan offers a scholarship to a pediatric brain tumor survivor who received most of their treatment at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center/Penn State Children’s Hospital/Penn State Cancer Institute. This will provide those survivors some financial assistance to pursue any post-secondary education. A second scholarship is available to those who graduated from East Pennsboro School District who are pursuing a degree in elementary education.
- Kids-4-Kids with Cancer: Applicants must have been diagnosed with cancer before their 18th birthday.
- Marna’s Pal Memorial Scholarship: Student must be between 17 and 24 years old. They must be attending a two- or four-year college or university to receive the award. The student must have experienced cancer themselves or had a sibling or parent who experienced cancer. The student must live and/or attend school in New Jersey.
- Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance: Applicant must have battled cancer at any point in their lives, not limited to mesothelioma, or must have a parent, sibling, immediate family member or close friend who has battled or is currently fighting cancer.
- Michael Hunter Memorial Scholarship: Limited to survivors of leukemia and lymphoma.
- Nicki Leach Foundation: Provides college and daily living scholarships for cancer survivors 18 to 30 years old. Applications open in October. This scholarship may not be available nationwide.
- National Children’s Cancer Society (Beyond the Cure Scholarships): Applicant must be a survivor of cancer or a high grade or anaplastic brain tumor who is younger than 25 and who was diagnosed before the age of 18.
- National Collegiate Cancer Foundation: Applications open in March. Must be a survivor between 18 and 35 years old and accepted into a bachelor’s or graduate program.
- Northwestern Mutual Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship: Applications open each December. Applicants must be cancer survivors, 25 and younger, who have been diagnosed by a physician as having had treatment for and survived cancer. A sibling scholarship is also available.
- Patient Advocate Foundation: Provides scholarships for survivors of cancer and other life-threatening medical issues who are younger than 25 and who have been diagnosed or treated for a chronic disease within the last five years.
- Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation: For those diagnosed with a brain tumor before the age of 19.
- Simon Cancer Foundation: Applicants must be enrolled in a four-year university or college in the United States.
- Toby Merrill Scholarship: Tuition scholarship for bachelor’s-level students or high school students enrolled in a private institution. Students must have been impacted in some way by a cancer diagnosis, either personally or through a family member’s diagnosis. The goal is to reduce the multigenerational impact of a cancer diagnosis in the family.
- Transplant Recipient International Organization (TRIO) Scholarship Program: Must be a solid organ or bone marrow candidate, recipient, donor or an immediate family member (defined as parent, child, spouse or sibling). Must be a TRIO member (joining fee is $20).
- Ulman Fund: Numerous scholarships sponsored by this organization. Apply for all by completing the same application. Applicants must have been between 15 and 39 years old during their own diagnosis/treatment or during the diagnosis/treatment of their parent or sibling. Each scholarship has its own specific criteria.
Scholarship Searches and Lists
- American Childhood Cancer Organization: Offers a scholarship section on their website.
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): Extensive list of scholarships and search engines.
- FinAid Cancer Scholarships Free search of scholarships. All listed cancer-specific scholarships that are still active are listed in the individual scholarships section of this page.
- Ped-Onc Resource Center: Offers a list of scholarships for cancer survivors.
- The SAM Fund: Nonprofit organization created to assist young adult survivors of cancer with a successful transition into their post-treatment life, by providing financial support through the distribution of grants and scholarships.
Financial Aid and College Counseling
- George Washington University School of Education: Modules and other resources for learning how to navigate college applications, financial aid, essay writing, interviewing, etc.
- National Grace Foundation: Free college admissions and financial aid counseling to high-school and college-aged students and their families who are affected by pediatric cancer. The National GRACE Foundation presents college financial aid nights at cancer clinics and also provides families with one-on-one counseling.
- Affordable Colleges Online: Article regarding helpful resources for cancer survivors.
- American Cancer Society: Resource searches based on diagnosis.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO): Extensive list of resources for scholarships and other financial information, as well as reliable information on disease and survivorship.
- Livestrong: Extensive resources for financial, fertility, education, health, etc.
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Information on employment rights, etc.
- PA Career Link: Job training resources, resume writing, other helpful counseling regarding employment.
- PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR): Provides employment and training assistance to patients who have experienced significant health events and/or disabilities.
- Stupid Cancer: Financial assistance lists for college scholarships and daily living expenses.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect you against employment discrimination.
Support the Survivorship Clinic
The Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital is funded through Four Diamonds.
Since its creation in 1972, Four Diamonds has helped nearly 4,000 children and families and supported a diverse platform of childhood cancer research at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, seeking improved treatments and cures to benefit kids around the world.
The Four Diamonds mission is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research.
Four Diamonds covers 100 percent of all medical expenses related to cancer care not covered by insurance for eligible Four Diamonds children. Because of the community’s steady and generous support, Four Diamonds has assisted 100 percent of the childhood cancer patients who have been treated at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.
Learn more about Four Diamonds