Teen cancer lounge at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt unveiledMar. 31, 2021, 11:20 AM
by Christina Echegaray
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Teen Cancer America announced March 31 the completion of a new state-of-the-art lounge to serve the unique needs of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients.
Kylie Jenner made a $500,000 gift with additional funds from Teen Cancer America to build the new lounge space, located on the sixth floor of Children’s Hospital. The gift was made in honor of Harry Hudson, singer-songwriter and cancer survivor who was successfully treated for stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma after being diagnosed in 2013 at age 20. Jenner, CEO/Founder of Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin, has been a longtime friend to Hudson.
In September 2017, Jenner announced that she would celebrate her birthday by raising funds for Teen Cancer America with Hudson. Through the sales of her Kylie Cosmetics Birthday Collection, she raised funds to help improve the lives of teens and young adults with cancer. Jenner credits Hudson for acquainting her with Teen Cancer America and inspiring her to make a difference. Hudson has since gone on to establish his own charity for teens with cancer, Hey, I’m Here For You.
“I am so grateful for Kylie’s friendship and the impact she’s had on my life and my cancer journey,” said Hudson. “She has always been there for me, and together, we wanted to figure out a way to be there for other young people who are battling this disease. With the help of Teen Cancer America, we were able to contribute the first Hey, I’m Here For You Teen lounge at Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt — a comfortable space for young people undergoing treatment to pursue their passions. This is a full-circle moment for me, and I am excited to continue growing my partnership with Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and TCA.”
Hudson visited Children’s Hospital in July and November 2018 and then virtually visited on March 25 to meet with teen cancer patients and tour the newly completed teen cancer lounge.
“Teen Cancer America is privileged to partner with this extraordinary hospital that is providing world-class services,” said Simon Davies, executive director for Teen Cancer America. “Their AYA program and this very special facility for young people that we have helped design and fund will be transformative. We are indebted to Harry, our Ambassador, and his good friend Kylie for their generosity and commitment to our cause.”
Adolescent and young adult cancer patients often have unique needs as they navigate their cancer treatments as well as long-term impacts once they are in remission.
“Teen Cancer America is an incredible organization, and I’m so blessed that I was introduced to it through Harry,” said Jenner. “It’s been an incredible process to see this come to life, and I send well wishes to all patients and their families.”
The new lounge, designed with input from a focus group made up of Children’s Hospital AYA patients, is outfitted with their specific needs and interests in mind. The main sitting area offers electronic equipment (video games, big screen television), a selection of movies and streaming capabilities for favorite televisions shows, a Wi-Fi connection, and space to interact with peers, which is critically important for the AYA population. Off the main area, there is also a meditation room.
“Teenagers and young adults with cancer face unique challenges compared to other patients, and their needs differ from young children or older adults with cancer,” said Scott Borinstein, MD, PhD, director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program and Scott and Tracie Hamilton Professor of Cancer Survivorship. “The emotional and social support is critical to help them cope through their cancer journey. When they are in the cancer clinic or in the hospital, they crave camaraderie and want to interact with individuals their age so they can talk about their experiences. Our partnership with Teen Cancer America allows us to create a distinctive space for our AYA cancer patients — a place where they can be separate from our younger patients — an area of the hospital all their own, and an environment specially tailored to their wants and needs.”
The AYA lounge is part of an ongoing collaborative effort between TCA and Children’s Hospital that began in 2016 to raise funds to expand the hospital’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program. Founded by The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, Teen Cancer America is a nationally recognized organization dedicated to transforming the lives of teens and young adults with cancer by helping hospitals and health care professionals bridge the gap between pediatric and adult oncology care.
The AYA lounge is centrally located in the hub of what will be a phased project on the Children’s Hospital and Clinic’s sixth floor, which is devoted to cancer care. The upgrades to the existing space for pediatric and adolescent cancers is also supported through A Campaign Against Childhood Cancer, chaired by Allison DeMarcus and Kailey Hand, which is exceeding its initial fundraising goal of $15 million toward space for treatments as well as research at the hospital.
“We are tremendously grateful to Teen Cancer America for making this significant commitment to address the needs of our adolescent and young adult cancer patients,” said Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, President of Children’s Hospital. “We are dedicated to providing a positive medical experience for all our patients, and with the help of wonderful partners like Teen Cancer America, we are able to make that possible.”