Young At Heart

Published on 
April 29, 2020


Medical treatment at CHLA is serious and sophisticated. The vibe? Now that’s another story.

For me, finding ways to make medicine work for kids makes the job so much more fulfilling.

Taking care of kids is totally different than taking care of adults. It’s lighter. It’s brighter. It’s fun, even in the face of serious, life-threatening illnesses. We’re doing things at CHLA you’d never think of doing at a grown-up hospital. We sing. We dance. We play make-believe. We ride trikes down the hall when our patients are feeling down. We play games to cheer them up. We have all sorts of tricks to help them take their meds. For me, finding ways to make medicine work for kids makes the job so much more fulfilling.

I take care of kids with blood diseases and cancer. From the very first time they’re diagnosed to the last day they get their treatment, they’re with our unit. I feel a sense of injustice when a child gets diagnosed with cancer, and I want to try and make their time here at CHLA as ‘normal’ and as fun as possible. We enter these patients’ lives when they are in a very vulnerable state. To be honest, we try to do what we can to not only make them feel better physically but also emotionally as well. It’s hard to imagine taking the same approach at a grown-up hospital. Part of me thinks it would never work.

On the day of each patient’s last chemo, we ring a bell on the unit to signify to everyone that the child is done with treatment. Hearing that bell is the best part of my job. I trust that when these young people come back, they won’t come back as patients but as visitors. That ring means they survived. It means they beat it.

— Kelvin Duong, RN, Hematology and Oncology Care Unit


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