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In the 1960s, only 5% of children survived leukemia. Today that number is closer to 90%. As the cancer survival rate continues to climb, survivors increasingly need follow-up care and support for the long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
Created in 1987, the Children’s Hospital Colorado HOPE Cancer Survivorship Program was one of the nation’s first programs focused on cancer survivorship. Over 20 years later, the program continues to provide excellent multidisciplinary care not only to cancer survivors, but also to patients who have undergone bone marrow transplantation. The HOPE Program, which stands for Helping Oncology Patients Excel, helps childhood cancer and bone marrow transplantation survivors of all ages live fuller, healthier lives.
About the HOPE Survivorship Program
Cancer, cancer treatment, and bone marrow transplantation can lead to side effects that appear after some time. These side effects include heart and lung complications, hormone disorders, secondary cancer, learning disabilities, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder and infertility. As experts in pediatric cancer and bone marrow transplantation survivorship with more than 70 years of combined experience, our multidisciplinary team offers guidance and support for kids and young adults coping with these challenges.
Why choose us for long-term cancer follow-up care
As one of the longest-running survivorship programs in the nation, and the only one in Colorado and our neighboring states, we’ve served more than 2,000 patients from Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. Our extensive experience helps us provide comprehensive support for our patients as they adjust to life after cancer or bone marrow transplantation.
The HOPE Program is important from both a medical and emotional well-being standpoint. This is because cancer, its treatment, and bone marrow transplantation can lead to other health difficulties down the road, including changes to physical and mental health. Survivors can experience complicated, sometimes confusing feelings in the months and years following treatment. Long-term follow-up means we can watch for signs that indicate a patient may be struggling and help connect them to the resources and support they need to properly heal.
2,000+Patients treated in our 30-year history
ONLYCancer survivorship program in Colorado and surrounding states
Who we treat at the HOPE Survivorship Program
Our team works with survivors of bone marrow transplantation and all types of childhood cancer. Patients do need to be at least five years past their cancer diagnosis and at least two years out from the conclusion of treatment or transplantation.
Preparing for your visit to our survivorship program
An initial visit lasts about three hours. During that time, survivors meet the members of their care team, including:
Pediatric oncologist, bone marrow transplantation physician or advanced practice provider: Your child’s oncology or bone marrow transplantation provider will review your child’s records prior to the appointment. They will discuss with you and your family any physical or mental health concerns you have about your child, perform a comprehensive exam of your child and order any necessary tests. They will also discuss any important past medical issues from the cancer or bone marrow transplantation treatment and will develop a plan to help address any ongoing concerns. They will also communicate with your primary care provider and any additional specialists. At the end of the appointment, you will receive a comprehensive note detailing your visit and plan.
Social worker: Adjusting to life after cancer or bone marrow transplantation can be challenging. Your social worker will meet with you to address any concerns you have about your child’s return to school, home or job, as well as any worries you have about finances or other issues, that may make a return to “normal life” after cancer or bone marrow transplantation more difficult. They will help you develop a plan of action and connect you with any necessary resources.
Dietitian: Cancer and bone marrow transplantation survivors often struggle with returning to a well-rounded nutrition and activity plan after therapy. A dietitian will review your child’s dietary and activity habits, blood pressure and relevant nutrition labs. They will work with you to develop individualized healthy lifestyle recommendations for your child and family.
Nurse coordinator and educator: Your survivorship nurse coordinator and educator will review your child’s records prior to the appointment and create an individualized treatment summary for you, detailing any continued follow-up visits or tests that your child will need. They will review this with you during your child’s appointment and answer your questions. They will also provide you with a wallet-sized card summarizing your discussion.
Neuropsychologist: Cancer and bone marrow transplantation survivors may have challenges with attention, behavior or other mental processes. Your neuropsychologist will talk to you about any concerns you have and perform a screening assessment. They will work with you to create a plan to address any areas of concern, which may include working with your child’s school or your job to create an adaptive plan. They may also provide a referral for a complete neuropsychological evaluation.
Genetic counselor: Some patients may have an underlying genetic disorder that could affect them, their families or future children. Our genetic counselor will review your child’s records and if they are at risk, will meet with you to discuss potential concerns and testing. If you are interested, they will discuss the option of a formal genetic counseling appointment at a later date. Learn more about genetic counseling in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Follow-up survivorship care
After the initial visit, your child will return annually to our clinic for evaluation, risk assessment and health education. These follow-up appointments are much shorter, and your child may see one or a combination of the following specialists: a pediatric oncologist, a bone marrow translation physician, an advanced practice provider or nurse educator. The appointments include a physical exam and any necessary tests and screenings that help us monitor your child for late side effects. We will also provide ongoing health education and will make referrals to other specialists as necessary.
Frequently asked questions about the HOPE Cancer Survivorship Program
Do I need a referral to the HOPE Survivorship Program?
It depends on your insurance, but you can go ahead and make an appointment and an insurance verifier will check for you.
Will my insurance cover my visit?
Most insurance companies will cover visits to the HOPE Survivorship Program as they would other office visits and tests. However, deductibles and copayments will apply. You’ll want to check with your insurance company.
The intake appointment lasts about three hours, and we will try to schedule any lab work, X-rays or other tests you may need the morning before your intake visit. Annual visits after that are much shorter, usually about one hour.
I didn’t have cancer, but I did have a bone marrow transplant for another disease. Do I still need to come to the HOPE Survivorship Program?
Yes. Although you didn’t have cancer, you are a survivor of a bone marrow transplant, which included therapy such as chemotherapy, and you may be at risk for late side effects.
What will visits to the HOPE program be like after my intake visit?
After your intake visit, we’ll see you at our follow-up clinic once a year. These visits will last about an hour, and you will see either a pediatric oncologist or advanced practice provider and the nurse educator. If your child is a very young survivor, we recommend coming for another intake-like visit with our multidisciplinary clinic once they reach adolescence or young adulthood.
What if I’m an adult survivor?
Our affiliated TACTIC clinic at UCHealth is dedicated to adult survivors of pediatric cancer who are over the age of 21. You will see an internist, a pediatric oncologist, a psychologist and a nurse. To make an appointment, call 720-848-2300.
Contact the HOPE Cancer Survivorship Program
We welcome questions, consultations and referrals. Call us at 720-777-5441.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) hosted the 7th Annual Celebration of Life event and honored pediatric cancer survivors and family members living with and beyond cancer. The event was held at Wings Over the Rockies museum and hundreds of past and current patients of the H.O.P.E. (Helping Oncology Patients Excel) Survivorship Program attended.