The Southern AgCredit community gives back during the holiday season by hosting the Fit For Agriculture/Jingle Bell Jog on December 10, 2022 at Madison Central. Since 2013, the half marathon, 10k, and 5k race has helped raise necessary funds for Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. For more information about the Center, and to learn how funds being raised are used to help children, we spoke with the Director, Dr. Anderson B. Collier.
About Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is a leading clinical research and treatment center working to improve the health outcomes for children with childhood cancers, like acute lymphoblastic anemia and blood disorders like sickle cell anemia.
World-Class Treatment at Home
Many parents know the big name hospitals for childhood cancer, but did you know that you can receive the same treatments without leaving the state? Dr. Collier explained, “if you have cancer, and you’re a kid in Mississippi, you have access to the most cutting-edge and latest research, newest drugs, surgical techniques, scans—you name it, we can do it here.”
Clinical Trials and Research
From its inception, the Center has played a critical role in helping to advance clinical research and treatment options for both cancer and blood disorders, and it continues to provide vanguard care thanks to this work.
“Almost nobody survived childhood cancer in the 1950s. It wasn’t zero, but it was a low percentage. The survival rate today is about 80 percent. So, in about 60 years, the field has gone from a ten percent survival rate to an 80 percent survival rate, and we’ve done that through research,” said Dr. Collier. “Many people don’t realize the amount of research that we can provide here. Just from a cancer standpoint, we have about 70 to 80 clinical trials for kids with cancer that are currently available and enrolling patients.”
In the rare circumstance that the Center cannot offer a specific treatment, Dr. Collier says that they advocate for patients to receive their treatment elsewhere. “The world of pediatric oncology is really not that big. If I have a patient who needs something that I can’t provide, then I will call my [colleague] at the hospital that does offer it and figure out how to get them there.”
Sickle Cell Anemia
Mississippi has the largest population of patients with sickle cell anemia, and as a result, “we have the largest sickle cell practice for pediatrics in the county in patient volume. We follow 900-950 children up to 21 years of age,” said Dr. Collier. “It is exceedingly important for us to be heavily involved in sickle cell research. It’s the right thing to do for our patients and for the sickle cell community.”
The Center has been one of the largest contributors to landmark studies on sickle cell anemia drug treatments. The researchers at the Center continue to contribute to trials on drug therapies, bone marrow transplants, and gene therapy treatments.
When a child is sick, the stress of worrying about their health, coupled with anxiety regarding the financial cost of treatment and travel can be unbearable. “The only thing that parents should be worried about is their kid. They don’t need to worry about where they will stay—we’ll provide resources to help with all of those things,” said Dr. Collier.
An active group of program supporters for Children’s of Mississippi work to help families have funds for the following:
- Medical bills that insurance does not cover
- Food for families while their child is admitted
- Mileage reimbursement
Children’s of Mississippi’s Personal Touch
In addition to having the same therapies, technology, and diagnostics as some of the more well-known pediatric cancer centers, the smaller size and environment of Children’s offers a personal touch. As Dr. Collier said, “My partners and I will refer to patients as ‘our kids’—there’s a family-type feel to it. They are our kids. This is not a sterile clinic. Our nurses are phenomenal and know every name—the kids, the parents, the grandparents. One of our joys is when we get a high school graduation announcement from someone we treated years ago. We feel like proud parents.”
Why We Race for Children’s
Donations raised for Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders will be used to provide a more comfortable visit for children and their families. Monies raised will help complete a large renovation that includes an infusion room expansion, improved patient flow, and new dedicated spaces.
Infusion Room Expansion
Currently, the infusion room is an open area that only holds 12 patients getting an infusion at one time. The expansion includes:
- Semi-private infusion bays for up to 20 patients
- Six-foot privacy wall between infusion bays
- A comfortable recliner for parents in each bay
These patients can go into the infusion room, close their curtain, put on headsets, and block out the rest of the world. An advantage of having bays and not completely private rooms is that nurses can monitor patients without having to disturb them. This ease of monitoring gives them more private time and fewer interruptions.
Improved Patient Flow
The renovation will nearly double the number of exam rooms—from eight to 14—to improve patient flow. Patients and their parents will wait in a new, re-located waiting area.
New Dedicated Spaces
The renovation will bring these new spaces to the Clinic:
- Areas in which to do procedures, access ports, administer IVs, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirates, and biopsies
- Upgraded pharmacy
- Dedicated office/classroom for the schoolteacher to work with patients
- Dedicated psych test exam room
- Neurocognitive testing and dedicated space for psychology to work with patients
- Large oncology research office and lab
- Sickle cell anemia research office
Support the Center by Registering for the Fit for Ag/Jingle Bell Jog
If you’re interested in helping advance the Center’s very worthy cause, please register for Southern AgCredit’s 2022 Fit for Ag/Jingle Bell Jog! The race, which will be held on December 10, 2022, at Madison Central High School, features a half-marathon, 10k run, 5k run, 5k walk, and one mile fun run. If you would rather not run but would like to support the cause, you can select “Rally Without Racing” on the registration form.Register for the Jingle Bell Jog