Media contact: Joy Bell, 404-778-3711, email@example.com
MEDIA: If you would like to interview a family, contact Joy Bell by May 1 at 404-778-3711.
WHO: Children who have survived retinoblastoma, their families, and Emory Eye Center staff
WHEN: Saturday, May 8, 2009; 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: W.D. Thompson Park, 1760 Mason Mill Rd., Decatur, GA
(ATLANTA) The twelfth annual RB Picnic, coordinated by Emory Eye Center, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at WD Thompson Park, off Mason Mill Road in Decatur. This very special event promises a day of fun and celebration for both the young patients and their families who have faced this formerly fatal childhood cancer of the eye called retinoblastoma (RB).
A tumor of the retina (the back of the eye), RB can be hereditary or non-hereditary. When hereditary, it can affect both eyes and sometimes other organs of the body, whereas the non-hereditary type will usually only affect one eye. RB mainly affects young children and occurs in one in 20,000 live births. In its most serious form, it can metastasize to other parts of the body, resulting in death. In decades past, RB often meant certain death for these children. Today’s statistics are much more heartening. In fact, today more than 90% of RB children survive the disease.
“This will be my third RB Kids day; each year it seems to get better. Our retinoblastoma program, under the direction of Dr. Baker Hubbard has evolved into a leading center of excellence in patient care for pediatric oncology. The picnic is a way to recognize the remarkable success in treatment of this disorder, plus . . . a way to recognize the kids who are shining stars to all of us,” says Timothy W. Olsen, MD, director of the Emory Eye Center.
On May 8 some 45 to 60 young patients, typically ranging in ages from infancy up to 12 years of age, and their families come from all over Georgia and the Southeast—and sometimes as far away as Europe. The highly anticipated day of celebration includes clowns, food, pony rides, and Happy Tails pet-assisted therapy.
“I really look forward to this event,” says Baker Hubbard, MD, Emory Eye Center’s pediatric retinal specialist who treats these children. “It is great fun to have all the children and families together in a non-medical atmosphere where we can all relax and enjoy the activities together.” Dr. Hubbard has worked with RB children and their families since coming to Emory Eye Center in 2000.
“This event is so special because it provides those parents who may have a child with newly diagnosed retinoblastoma the realization that this disease can have an outcome that is extremely positive,” says Rhonda Waldron, diagnostic echographer at the Emory Eye Center, who organizes the RB Picnic each year. “Even in the event that their child has to have an enucleation (removal of the eye), by coming to RB Kids Day these parents have the opportunity to meet other families and share their experiences.
“They get to witness for themselves how great the other children look cosmetically with their prosthetic eyes, and even more importantly, see that these are normal, happy, playful children. By meeting the more experienced parents who have successfully dealt with their child’s diagnosis, they see that there is so much to be hopeful about. And the kids all have a great time!” she says.
“I’m excited to meet the families at this wonderful event,” says Dr. Olsen. “Under the leadership of Dr. Hubbard, I’m very optimistic for continued advancements in the field. I believe that new and even better therapies will develop. This is a wonderful day to celebrate success and remain hopeful for an even brighter future.”
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