It really is a small world. We feel grateful to Dr. Remi Fasipe, even though prior to this interview, we didn’t really know too much about her.
Rewind 6 months ago. One of our dear friends walked through a scary, scary season of her life. Her oldest son had been experiencing some rather odd symptoms and she was
concerned scared. After a couple of sleepless nights, several serious conversations with her husband and a lot of prayer, our friend made the call to Mercy Kids, and thank goodness she did. Within days she had an appointment with Dr. Fasipe, Pediatric Hematologist Oncologist, questions were answered and they began to explore best treatment options for her son.
Dr. Fasipe, that is just one story that has touched us. Thank you for following your calling and walking down this journey with our kids–your patients.
We loved having the opportunity to understand the work you do a little better! Mommas, enjoy this read and thank goodness for amazing doctors right here in Southwest Missouri from our sponsors at Mercy Kids!
I basically treat children with cancer and blood disorders.
What would an ideal day at work look like for you?
I meet with clinic staff to discuss patients for the day at 8:30 a.m. Patients start to arrive around 9 a.m. I see about 10 to 16 patients a day, I also return phone calls to physicians and parents. The clinic might start out with 10 patients and then I get a call about a patient who needs to be seen right away for suspicion of cancer. If the patient does have cancer, then I have to break the sad news to the family and explain the diagnosis and treatment plan.
When I see my patients, I try to get to know them and learn their favorite toys, sports or best friend, school, favorite TV show, movie, books and their siblings so they don’t think they are just coming here to undergo treatment.
I have had to memorize names of Thomas the Train engines, knock knock jokes, dance moves, because the patients look forward to their favorite conversation every week. It keeps me young at heart. The fun part is the no mo chemo party. That is always very rewarding, especially if they had a complicated treatment, it is a party for everyone.
Clinic usually ends at 4:30 p.m., but I might get called at night to admit a patient to the hospital, so the day never really ends.
What does the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic offer in terms of treatment and care for children in Southwest Missouri?
Being a St. Jude Affiliate Clinic allows us to enroll patients throughout southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas in clinical research trials right here at Mercy Children’s Hospital Springfield at the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center.
We make it possible for children battling cancer or lifelong blood disorder to receive exceptional treatment, close to home without having to travel 4 hours every week for treatment. We have helped thousands of children with cancer and blood-related disorders. Our insurance specialist can assist families with their insurance and financial needs irrespective of their insurance or ability to pay allowing families to concentrate on the health and healing of their child.
What new medical advancements do you get most excited about?
Progress made in the battle to cure childhood cancer is one of the great success stories of modern medicine. Some diseases that were universally fatal 50 years ago, such as pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, can now be cured in approximately 90% of patients.
Despite this success, there are a subset of pediatric tumors such as Metastatic sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue, Supratentorial high grade and brain stem gliomas that still have a poor outcome with less than 5 year survival rates despite high dose chemotherapy. This is where targeted therapy comes into play.
Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets specific molecules in or on cancer cells, or in the tumor’s immediate surroundings. Targeted therapies work by focusing on the ways cancer cells act differently from healthy cells and interrupting these processes. They “target” processes that play an important role in cancer growth so that cancer cells are unable to increase. An example of this would be stopping blood vessels that “feed” cancer cells, or interfering with signals that the cancer cells need for growth. While each type of targeted therapy works differently, they all aim to disrupt the way cancer cells duplicate and interact with other cells. With increasing knowledge of the molecular basis of cancer, medications are being designed specific pathways in cancers.
What advice do you offer to the parents of kids that have been diagnosed with an illness?
When your child is diagnosed with cancer it creates a crisis in the life of each family member and everything is spinning wildly out of control. It is extremely difficult to imagine this cancer journey. Parents must be away from work. Siblings might need to be cared for by relatives. The sick child (the patient) becomes the major focus of family time and attention. There are new medical terms to learn and new procedures and routines to master. Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with is the overwhelming unfairness of the situation. “This shouldn’t happen to kids-especially my kid!”
I always tell parents to keep themselves well informed and ask questions and develop trust in the cancer team, nurses and doctors. It is important to find support in prayer or their religious faith. I always say it not an easy road, but we are in this together. I would also say they should seek support from other family members that can help with clinic appointments or stay in the hospital with the child, pick up other siblings from school so they don’t get burnt out. It is easy for parents to neglect themselves, but I always say, to parents you need to be well to look after your sick child.
If I am concerned about my child, can I call your office directly?
Definitely, parents, physicians can call my office at 417 820 5833 at any time to discuss their concerns.
Describe the best part of your job.
I love my patients and their families, they teach me so much about life, love, family, friendship, perseverance, gratitude, and even me. They are the sweetest, most appreciative, and grateful people I meet. Their entire world has been rocked by a diagnosis of cancer or lifelong blood disorder, and somehow, they still seem to find the strength within themselves to fight—fight for life, family, and themselves.
They become so grateful for the little things in life, no matter how bad things get. They understand that family and love are important. In all of their pain (physical, mental, and emotional), nausea, life threatening infections, fever, and sadly death—if I am able to make just a tiny difference in my patients’ day, then I have done my job. Being a Pediatric Oncologist also helps me to keep things in perspective within my own life. No matter how hard or bad I think my day is, it is never as bad as my patients’.
My job reminds me every day how important it is to be grateful to God for the little things—being able to walk, breathe, eat, spend time with my family, the many things we take for granted. Why oncology? First it is my calling, it is where I belong and I love children. It is a privilege to navigate this healing, spiritual and emotional journey with my patients and their families.
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