The Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, New Hampshire, has northern New England's only pediatric oncology center. Any childhood disease is a horrible trial, but childhood cancer is especially difficult due to the type of treatments involved and the high mortality rate. The Dartmouth staff are some of the most highly trained and dedicated in the country, and at any time may be treating 100 young children from the Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont areas.
Bringing joy to those children fighting cancer is a worthwhile effort that helps the treatment of the child and brings some respite to the whole family. The dedicated staff of the Dartmouth Unit put on two great events that the kids and their families enjoy. The events are a summer outing in July and a holiday party in December. It is a great time for staff and families to relax and enjoy life outside of the clinical setting.
Another area of concern in the oncology clinic is the children's play area. The play area needs to be filled with toys, games, and educational items to help the kids through infusion or transfusion sessions, many of which take hours.
Kristen's Gift is a New Hampshire-based charity whose vision is to provide toys, games, and educational materials for the Pediatric Oncology functions and the playroom. The charity is in memory of Kristen Xiggoros, a fifteen-year-old Manchester girl who was treated by Dartmouth-Hitchcock for a rare hepta-splematic lymphoma.
Kristen enjoyed the outings and especially loved entertaining the younger patients in the game room. Kristen's Gift also helps families cope with the financial difficulties of long-term treatment. Lastly, Kristen's Gift supports cancer research at DHMC's Norris Cotton Cancer Center.