August 18, 2015

UAMS Takes ROC Stars Out to the Ballgame

ROC Star_on field

ROC Stars joined the Arkansas Travelers on the field for the national anthem.

Aug. 18, 2015 | While a crowd of fans gathered for an Arkansas Travelers baseball game Aug. 14, the real heroes of the night also prepared to take the field.

Children and teens treated at the UAMS Radiation Oncology Center (ROC) were special guests at the game and had the chance to join the players on the field for the singing of the national anthem.

It was all part of the UAMS ROC Stars event, an annual day of fun and celebration for UAMS’ youngest cancer patients. The UAMS Radiation Oncology Center is the only facility in Arkansas offering specialized radiation therapy for children.

“Children with cancer may not get to experience the simple things that other children take for granted,” said Peter Emanuel, M.D., director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “This event is a way for us to honor these families and give them a chance to make some special memories together.”

The fourth annual UAMS ROC Stars event was held at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock and included the Travelers baseball game and a buffet dinner. It was hosted by the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Auxiliary.

Eight-year-old leukemia survivor and softball player Jaycee O’Saile attended with her parents, Jason and Abra. While Jaycee is still in treatment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of UAMS, her eight radiation treatments at UAMS have ended.

ROC Star_Zach and Dad

Three-year-old brain tumor survivor Zach Chamness and his dad, Steve, are ready to enjoy a night of Travelers baseball.

“Jaycee would get her radiation treatment and turn right around and play softball that night. She doesn’t let anything stop her,” Abra O’Saile said.

Fellow parent Vanessa O’Neal drove her son, Radley, four hours from their home on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border to attend the event. “I wanted him to be here and see that what he’s been through is a big deal,” O’Neal said.

Radley was diagnosed two years ago with orbital rhabdomysarcoma in his right eye and underwent six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation therapy. During each radiation therapy he had to be sedated, as is the case with childhood cancer patients allowing them to remain completely motionless during the targeted treatment.

While Radley’s treatment saved the vision in his eye, he lost the ability to blink. A spring-like mechanism in his eyelid allows him to close his eye, and he continues to undergo occlusion therapy to strengthen his eyelid.

Each ROC Star in attendance received a T-shirt and star-shaped bead for their Beads of Courage necklace. Beads of Courage is a program through which children with serious illnesses receive beads to represent milestones in their treatment.

The UAMS ROC Stars program began with the encouragement and support of Arkansas’ former First Lady Ginger Beebe. Beebe’s granddaughter, Alexandria, was diagnosed at 11 weeks old with a tumor encircling her spinal column and was treated successfully at ACH.