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High School Students Donate iPad to Infusion Center

April 16, 2013

Losing an Aunt to Cancer Spurs Girl to Start Cancer Awareness Club

In January 2012, 37-year-old Fremont resident Wahida Taeb died of brain cancer, leaving behind two children. It was a devastating loss for the entire extended family, including Wahida's niece, Mashhal Walahi.

"I was very close to my aunt," Mashhal says. "She was my dad's sister, and they were best friends. She lived nearby, and we saw her frequently, including throughout the five years she was fighting cancer."

Working through her grief, Mashhal decided she wanted to do something positive to honor her aunt's memory. So last fall, Mashhal talked several classmates into starting a Cancer Awareness Club at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont.

"We meet during lunch every Wednesday in the classroom of our school advisor, biology teacher Jonathan Greathouse," explains Mashhal, a 16-year-old junior who serves as club president. "We have group discussions and sometimes watch power-point presentations about cancer. But our main purpose is to find ways to support people in the community who are suffering from cancer like my aunt did."

The mother of club vice president Katie Searl put the group in touch with Shari Kellen, RN, OCN, an oncology nurse navigator at Washington Hospital's Sandy Amos R.N. Infusion Center.

"We wanted to connect with cancer patients, and Shari met with us to discuss ways we could help," Mashhal says. "We finally decided to raise money to purchase an iPad that patients in the infusion center could use while undergoing their treatments."

Over the next few months, several members of the club pursued a variety of fundraising efforts. In addition to Mashhal and Katie, the club members most active in raising over $500 for the iPad included secretary Hannah Pryor, treasurer Nadeem Mirzada, Stefan Anderson, Nicole Ferreira and Alexah Ayala.

"We would go over to each other's houses and make cupcakes - a lot of cupcakes - which we sold around the neighborhood," Mashhal notes. "We also sold candy bars and held a huge garage sale with items donated by kids in the club. Mr. Greathouse helped out by going to the Apple store to buy the iPad."

Finally, several members of the club presented the iPad to the infusion center on March 27.

"The iPad will be a wonderful tool for our patients," says Shari Kellen. "We can use it to provide patient education, and the patients will be able to watch movies, listen to music or read books for relaxation during treatments. We are very grateful to this group of wonderful teenagers for such a thoughtful donation."

Mashhal notes that the Cancer Awareness Club hasn't decided yet on their next community outreach effort. "We're still evaluating ideas for next year," she says. "We would like to do the Breast Cancer Walk, but we're open to other additional projects. We hope more students will join the club, and we'd like to hear their ideas. It's an opportunity to make a positive difference in our community."

Students at John F. Kennedy High School who are interested in joining the Cancer Awareness Club can get more information by emailing jfkcancerawareness@yahoo.com.

Compassionate Care in a Comfortable Setting

The Sandy Amos R.N. Infusion Center offers a comfortable environment for patients who require frequent infusion therapy. The outpatient facility features eight private infusion chairs and a procedure room in a spa-like setting.
Some of the infusion treatments offered include:

  • Antibiotic administration
  • Hydration, such as for pregnant women with extreme morning sickness
  • Treatments for conditions such as Crohn's disease, osteoporosis and lupus
  • Chemotherapy

In addition to the infusion treatments, the facility offers free massages on certain days to those receiving treatments, as well as educational services that do not require payment.

"On most days, we treat five or six patients, but on a busy day, it could be 10 to 12 patients," says Shari Kellen, one of three nurse navigators at the facility. "Each room has a flat-screen TV, and we have a DVD player for playing movies. We also have free Wi-Fi for patients who want to bring in their laptop computers or use the new iPad donated by the Cancer Awareness Club."

Nurse navigators who work at the Sandy Amos R. N. Infusion Center specialize in guiding patients who have been diagnosed with cancer through their treatments in several ways, such as:

  • Educating patients regarding disease process and treatments
  • Providing referrals to social workers, nutrition services and spiritual care
  • Connecting patients with the hospital's Tumor Board regarding clinical trials
  • Assisting with paperwork, appointments and financial concerns

"Having nurse navigators is a fairly new concept for infusion centers that started in New York and has become more prominent nationwide in the last five years," Kellen explains. "This is a free service for patients with cancer. Our emphasis is on patient-centered care."

The Sandy Amos R.N. Infusion Center is located in Suite 239 at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. Valet parking and concierge service are available. For more information, visit www.whhs.com/infusioncenter or call (510) 818-5050.

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