Whipping Childhood Cancer
Eight-year-old Brady Burkhart stared directly into his target’s eyes—Alicia Whitmer. All she could do was wait for Brady to push a plate full of whipped cream into her smiling face. Brady and several other enthusiastic current and former pediatric cancer patients were given the opportunity to fling plates of sticky sweetness into the faces of caregivers of Memorial Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic, as well as Child Life Specialists, as part of the Whipping Childhood Cancer Challenge.
“I like the nurses, but it was fun to see them with whipped cream all over their faces,” Brady admitted with a mischievous smile. Alicia, the Clinic’s parent advocate, didn’t mind it a bit. “This is awesome,” she exclaimed, wiping whipped cream from her cheeks, forehead and hair. “It’s good to take one for the team.” The fun September afternoon was a joyful diversion from the usual afternoon of IVs, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Hannah Dygert, 16, who is in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, understands the problems facing the younger pediatric patients. “It’s a break from chemotherapy. That’s why doing something fun like this is so great,” the high school junior explained. The Challenge aims to raise awareness around the 46 children diagnosed and 7 lost every day to pediatric cancer in the U.S.
Aaron and Elizabeth Carris of Elkhart were eager to spread awareness of their son who was diagnosed in June with pilomyxoid astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. Adler, just 4 years old donning sunglasses and a cool David Bowie long-sleeved shirt, has nearly 1,300 friends on Facebook. “He’s a bright light and he brings love wherever he goes,” asserts his mother Elizabeth. “This has been a wonderful afternoon for him and us. Anything we can do to raise awareness, we want to do.”
Thanks to the beloved team of the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic for organizing something so beautiful and endearing for our patients:
Cathy Reese, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Deb Kominowski, R.N.
Clare Keith, R.N.
Sue Rector, R.N.
Jenny Streeter, R.N.
Jean Gramza, R.N.
Lori Hendershot, R.N.
Lindsey Namestnik, R.N.
Lisa Langwell, Office Coordinator
Alicia Whitmer, Parent Advocate
Beth Hurst, Social Worker
Chelsea Powers, Receptionist
Colleen Morrison, M.D.
Tracy Haertling, M.D.
Becky Wachs, Child Life Specialist
Peggy Chang, M.D.
You, too, can help “Whip Childhood Cancer” by donating to our region’s only Pediatric Hematology Oncology Program. Call 574.647.6613 or visit