In the U.S., more children die from cancer than any other disease. The Four Diamonds' mission is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Children's Hospital and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research.
We believe in a holistic approach to childhood cancer treatment. We treat the disease, but we also care for the child's well-being and their family. In addition, Four Diamonds covers all expenses for the care and treatment of the child not paid for by insurance or other means.
Four Diamonds provides comprehensive support to children and their families by paying for care and treatment not covered by insurance or other means, as well as additional expenses that disrupt the welfare of the child.
Four Diamonds makes it possible for 24 specialty care providers to exclusively serve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients and their families.
These care providers include child life specialists, social workers, music therapists, nurse specialists, a clinical nutritionist, a psychologist, a pharmacist, a genetics counselor, a neuropsychologist and a chaplain - just to name a few.
Our child life specialists help children confront fears about their illness. Through the use of play therapy and distraction techniques, we work with patients and families to help them find ways to cope with the life changing effects of childhood cancer.
Our clinical nutritionist is a valuable resource to families, assisting them with nutrition information that will keep their child as healthy as possible. Nutritional care also helps to reduce the side effects of therapy.
"It almost seems like we have a caring extended family that includes social workers, child life specialists, pediatric oncology doctors and nurses, music therapists, etc. All of these individuals should be proud of the work they do. For my family, it was their love and support that helped us through Katherine's treatment."
- The Katherine Johnson Family
Our clinical psychologist helps patients and families with the unique psychological challenges presented by childhood cancer. Our services include: individual and family therapy, coping skills, relaxation techniques, bereavement services and referrals for psychological testing.
Our pediatric neuropsychologist offers help to children, adolescents and young adults who may be struggling with cognitive impairment related to their medical diagnosis or treatments. An evaluation takes place to assess cognitive strengths and weaknesses in patients, in order to determine appropriate treatment interventions in the areas of education, daily functioning and emotional and behavioral needs.
Our pediatric oncology nurse specialists work exclusively with pediatric oncology patients through all stages of treatment, providing outpatient care, support and education. They are also skilled in the treatment protocols necessary for the long-term care of children, which allows our team to provide pediatric oncology patients with the highest quality of care possible.
"Four Diamonds represents the true spirit of kindness, generosity, giving, selflessness and love. It is a life line for a situation in which there are very few lines to cling to."
- The Craig Cline Family
Our social workers support families with their adjustment from diagnosis, into treatment and through survivorship. Together we serve as advocates for each family, addressing practical concerns including financial assistance, school needs, employment concerns, transportation assistance and healthy coping.
Our music therapists use therapeutic interventions, including playing instruments, singing, listening and song writing to promote adjustment to the hospital setting. These experiences are designed to help manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, improve communication, foster social interaction and promote physical rehabilitation.
Our chaplain integrates the spiritual needs of patients and their families into the plan of care, and notifies the entire team about family faith practices and how their faith may impact medical treatment.
Our genetic counselors specialize in the discovery and explanation of a child's personal and family history as it relates to their diagnosis of cancer. They are available to listen and understand what patients and families are going through to help them make decisions. Optional genetic testing may answer why a child developed cancer, help screen for other cancers, guide treatment strategies and identify other family members at risk for cancer.
A psychosocial program development coordinator recently joined the team to design and implement programs to support patients and families through the journey of cancer-related treatment, survivorship and bereavement. Functioning as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team, the program development coordinator is charged with working effectively with nurses, physicians, social workers, music therapists, Child Life specialists, chaplains, psychologists, patients and family members to expand current psychosocial services. The current priority of this position is the development of a parent-to-parent mentoring program.
This growing population of long-term childhood cancer 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, many of which are severe or life threatening.
The mission of the Penn State 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.
Survivors meet with a physician, the survivorship clinic coordinator and a social worker, all of whom specialize in late effects of childhood cancer. Visits include:
For more information, contact Amanda Musser, a Four Diamonds social worker in the Survivorship Clinic, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Penn State Children's Hospital is fortunate to have Four Diamonds. As the Children's Hospital builds upon its reputation for providing world-class care for kids, we look toward the enormous opportunities that lie ahead for our patients, our physicians and our community."
- A. Craig Hillemeier, M.D.
Dean, Penn State College of Medicine
Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Penn State
Founded in 1996, the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center is creating new knowledge to save the lives of children with cancer.
Our more than 80 doctors and scientists at Penn State College of Medicine conduct the full spectrum of cancer research. This research begins with learning more about how cancer forms and what can be done to either destroy or reprogram cancer cells.
Having a better understanding of how cancer works will help us to develop new, more effective treatments, which we are able to then test by conducting Phase I, II, and III clinical trials.
The support of Four Diamonds has been critical to development of Penn State Health's nationally and internationally recognized research programs, which are leading the fight to find better treatments and cures for all childhood cancers.
An estimated 16,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year –that’s about 43 kids every day.
Childhood cancer survival rates have significantly improved to 80% over the past 40 years; however, 1 in 5 children will still die from their disease within 5 years of diagnosis.
Children tend to respond better to chemotherapy than adults. However, they are more likely to be negatively affected by radiation therapy. Both of these therapies, in addition to surgery for cancer treatment, are likely to lead to long term side effects in children.
Currently, there are more than 420,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the U.S., with that number expected to reach 500,000 by 2020.
Only 4% of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding is solely dedicated to childhood cancer. The NIH is the country’s largest funder of medical research.
A key factor in our research is the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center’s membership in five national and international research consortiums. Research consortiums allow research scientists and doctors from around the world to combine their efforts to understand the causes of cancer and find more effective treatments for the children we care for.
By sharing our knowledge and discoveries with our partner consortiums, the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center not only improves treatment for cancer patients at Penn State Children’s Hospital, but also benefits children and their families nationally and globally.
a network of more than 200 leading institutions and 9,000 experts that provide state-of-the-art upfront therapies for many pediatric cancers.
a group of 40+ research centers and children's hospitals that offer an international network of childhood cancer clinical trials. Trials are based on research from investigators developing novel therapies/technologies.
a network of clinicians and scientists engaged in scientific and educational activities related to the use of hematopoietic stem cells in the treatment of diseases of children and adolescents.
a network of ten leading academic medical centers, all working together to provide the collaborative and research strength needed to complete intensive Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of novel treatments for cancer that has returned or isn't responding well.
a collaborative research model that unites multiple research centers with the goal of expediting the most advanced treatments in the shortest time frame possible in pediatric oncology, hematology and bone marrow transplant. Through this nationwide effort, the goal is to contribute to the development of promising new therapies in pediatric disorders such as childhood cancer, blood disorders, stem cell therapies and other cellular therapies.