From the Spring 2000 Newsletter

Here are some extracts from the Spring 2000 Newsletter. To download the entire newsletter, please click here.

History and Aims

CIKA was founded in April 1980 to increase the awareness of cancer in children and to encourage financial support to aid research into children’s cancer.  CIKA is an official auxiliary of the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and is open to any interested persons who feel that they would like to contribute to help CIKA.

Over 140 children under 15 years of age are diagnosed with cancer each year in Victoria and 90% of these children are treated at RCH.  CIKA is committed to providing funding for research into solid tumours, the third most common group of childhood cancer.  Solid tumours include Wilms tumour, neuroblastoma, osteosarcorna and Ewing sarcoma.

Apart from the influence of genetic factors, inherited conditions, and exposure to ionising radiation, little is known of the cause(s) of the childhood cancers and nothing can be done to prevent them.  Therefore, the need to continue the financial support of research into childhood cancer is imperative.

The hopes and dreams of CIKA are to stop children from ever contracting these types of cancer, but if they do, to ensure that the treatment they receive will be successful.  At present the only way to move positively towards these ideals is through research.

CIKA has actively supported research projects at RCH with financial assistance since its inception and will continue to do so until these types of cancer are cured.  CIKA is recognised as one of the foremost fund raising auxiliaries of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The CIKA logo is in memory of the children of the families who founded ClKA.  One child liked birds, particularly seagulls, one child liked butterflies and the other child liked flowers, especially nasturtiums.

May the children rest in peace.

2000 President’s Message

In 2000 our president was Kaye Murphy.  Here is what she wrote in her message for our newsletter in the spring of that year.

CIKA is such an important organisation as it is committed to Research. It is my fervent belief that the funds we raise will enable research to be done that will make a difference in this fight against cancer and ultimately lead to a breakthrough. I’m thrilled that we are now funding Clinical Trials. It is my hope that one day we will be funding clinical trials into all Solid Tumours.

I first heard of CIKA when my daughter Kassie was being treated for Leimyosarcoma. I initially became actively involved with CIKA as a way of giving something back.

Being involved with CIKA has also been very enriching on a personal level. The networking has led to many firm friendships. It’s good that something positive has come from tragedy. I have been encouraged to see members of CIKA gaining confidence and taking on more active roles.

Another positive outcome of my involvement with CIKA is that I can now walk through the doors of the Royal Children’s Hospital without the dread that I once felt. I now feel really comfortable at the hospital; the wonderful staff in the Auxiliaries office has facilitated this.

I am very proud of what CIKA has achieved in the last few years and look forward to updating you on more achievements.

Kaye Murphy

My trip to America

Hi, Jacqui Robinson here from the Haematology and Oncology Department at RCH.  I have worked in Paediatric Oncology for the last 7 years and was appointed as clinical nurse coordinator for children with Solid Tumours in October 1999.  The position involves “wearing many hats”.  However, its main aim is to ensure that the roller coaster ride these children and their families travel throughout treatment can be made a little easier.

In April of this year I was fortunate enough to receive funding from CIKA to attend a conference in America.  This was the first meeting of the recently amalgamated Children’s Oncology Group (COG) of which RCH became a member in 1998.  1200 delegates from the USA and Australia attended the meeting, which involved discussions and updates on clinical trials and advances in paediatric oncology.  One of the highlights was of the conference was to meet with other nurses and share experiences, ideas and issues in this “unique” field of nursing.

A visit to both the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and the Texas Children’s Hospital was on the agenda.  These Short visits enabled me to gain a valuable insight into new and different methods of balancing the daily clinical demands of oncology nursing, with the physical and emotional needs that children and their families have.

Visits of this nature, whilst extremely beneficial, are unlikely to attract direct hospital funding, therefore CIKA’s assistance and support in these areas is vital, and result in significant improvements for solid tumour patients and their families.

Jacqui Robinson

Major Purchases in the last 12 months

Through our fund raising efforts the following critical equipment has been purchased by CIKA:

Hickman Starter Kits  CIKA purchased and equipped small fishing tackle boxes, which are used as Hickman Starter Kits. Some patients have surgically implanted Hickman catheters for the administration of chemotherapy. As the catheters can stay in place for a year or more they need to be flushed on a weekly basis. Equipment for flushing includes syringes, needles, and catheter caps, sterile dressing pack, flushing solution, etc. Prior to CIKA’s help parents and nurses had to organise the collection of these supplies from different sections of the hospital, parents had to pay for the equipment needed and there was no dedicated storage container. Now all a parent has to do when starting out on this process is go the Equipment Distribution Centre to obtain the kit.

Spectrophotometer  Used in the analysis of DNA. Having this equipment on site has reduced the waiting time for test results that were previously processed in Sydney.

Stratagen Flurotracker Used to analyse the biochemical events which determine the balance between cell survival and cell death, which allows the lab staff to explore the mechanisms by which some tumour cells exhibit resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Scitillation Counter  The Top Count machine is used to measure antitumour immune responses, including cytotoxic T cells, natural killer T cells, T cell proliferation and antigen presentation (by dendritic cells).

Lab Report from David Ashley

There has been a growing solid tumour research base at the Royal Children’s Hospital during the year 2000.  Our clinical research activities have included establishing the unit as an approved National Cancer Institute Phase Center 1 for testing new chemotherapies and other agents in children with refractory tumours.  To date we have treated five patients on these Phase 1 studies with great success.  As well, our clinical research program has now incorporated our first vaccine studies for neuroblastoma and these will be initiated with the next advanced stage. patient diagnosed at the RCH.

Our laboratory endeavours continue.  In tumour immunology our vaccine program continues to look a innovative ways of creating anti-tumour vaccines for childhood tumours and our work also continues or understanding mechanisms by which we can kill brain tumour cells.  In molecular oncology, Dr Algar’s work undertaking the molecular analysis of the WT1 genes has expanded to brain tumours and it may in fact, be a useful marker of the disease and involved in the basic cause o brain tumours.  Work continues on examining the Beckworth-Wiedermann syndrome and its relationship to Wilms’ tumour and tumour risk.  We are also studying the role of the molecule stim 1 in embryonal tumours of childhood and brain tumours.

David Ashley