Survivors Taking Action and Responsibility (STAR) Program
The Survivors Taking Action and Responsibility (STAR) Program provides risk-based care using national and international survivorship guidelines for childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant survivors. Our program also participates in research to contribute to ongoing improvements in survivorship care and the quality of life of survivors.
Over 85% of children diagnosed with cancer can expect to be cured, due to innovations in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and stem cell transplant, as well as increased understanding of the biology of cancer. Pediatric cancer treatments can create persisting side effects, becoming what are known as “late effects.” The STAR Program addresses late effects of pediatric cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant treatment in children and young adults.
Patients are referred to the STAR program five years after a cancer diagnosis if they are in full clinical remission, or two years following hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Patients are seen annually. We currently see over 550 patients each year.
The Lurie Children’s Difference
Our program’s goal is to assist and empower survivors to grow and develop into adulthood, have a voice, live to their full potential and contribute to society. We provide continued monitoring and care for the effects of childhood cancer and its treatments, and help further the research regarding this patient group. Our organized, systematic and comprehensive follow-up program addresses both the physiologic and psychosocial effects of cancer treatment.
Survivors are cared for in the STAR Program through age 25 and are gradually transitioned to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
for continued care and monitoring. Our collaborative relationship with the Lurie Cancer Center ensures a smooth transition between the two teams when the patient is ready to move to adult care.
What to Expect
During their visit, patients meet with an advanced practice nurse and a physician for a comprehensive physical exam and psychosocial evaluation. The healthcare staff provides a summary of prior treatments and evaluations, screening, education, and counseling about possible late effects due to prior therapies.
The STAR program consults with other specialists as needed to provide your child with the best care to address any complications from treatment, including:
- Endocrine disorders
- Impaired growth or development
- Reduced bone density
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders
In an effort to provide complete care, our program offers a comprehensive clinic staffed by the STAR advanced practice nurse and physician, a cardiologist, an immunologist and an endocrinologist. The clinic allows patients to achieve all necessary evaluations and ancillary testing in one visit. With this approach, each individual survivor’s history is reviewed together by all medical providers to deliver an optimal personalized treatment plan.
Our multidisciplinary team includes:
- Jennifer Reichek, MD, MSW, director of the STAR program, is the physician seeing patients in the STAR Program. Dr. Reichek also directs the active research initiative. She is an active participant in the Solid Tumor Program and heads the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program at Lurie Children’s.
- Natasha Pillay Smiley, DO, is the physician seeing patients in the Brain STAR Program and follows all childhood brain tumor survivors.
- Karina Danner-Koptik, RN, MSN, APN-CPON, holds the program’s nursing responsibilities for patient evaluations, patient education and research. She provides expertise in instructing colleagues across the nation in survivorship issues. Karina is an active participant in the STAR Program’s research initiatives.
- Katie Valentino, APN, is a member of the STAR nursing team and is responsible for patient evaluations, patient education and research.
- Morris Kletzel, MD, sees STAR patients who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplant, and actively participates in research activities. Dr. Kletzel is a world-renowned hematopoietic stem cell transplant physician and expert in the field of chronic graft-versus-host disease.
- Tricia Salicete is the STAR Program liaison and research coordinator. Tricia plays an important role in clinic management and research initiatives, including supervising scheduling, organizing operational flow and coordinating data for the Childhood Cancer Survivors Study.
- Our clinical office assistant, coordinates the STAR program schedules and appointments.
Other disciplines that work within the STAR team include immunology, cardiology, endocrinology and neuropsychology.
Make an Appointment
Appointments are scheduled three months in advance by the program’s clinical office assistant. Please call 312.227.4791 to make an appointment in the STAR clinic.
The STAR Program is committed to the ongoing development of and participation in research to improve the quality of life for long-term survivors of childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplant. We are active members of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and participate in many studies through this international organization. We also participate in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), a national study examining long term effects in survivors of childhood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
The STAR team frequently presents research at a variety of national and international meetings, including:
The following helpful resources for childhood cancer survivors are available online. You can also read our blog post
on Life Inside Lurie Children's
- Get Empowered: video education series for adult survivors of childhood cancer
- American Cancer Society: health organization and largest non-governmental funder of cancer research and discovery
- Cancer Care: provides free support services to anyone affected by cancer
- Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation: provides information, awareness, advocacy and research for childhood cancer patients and families
- Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS): The CCSS is a component of the Long Term Follow Up Study, and is a collaborative, multi-institutional study funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (U24 CA55727) of the National Institutes of Health and funds from ALSAC, St. Jude fundraising organization.
- Children’s Oncology Group: long-term follow-up guidelines for survivors of childhood, adolescent and young adult cancers
- Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI): provides camp opportunities for childhood cancer patients
- Critical Mass: a young adult cancer alliance of non-profits, medical institutions, patient advocacy groups, government agencies, clinicians, researchers and dedicated individuals uniting to improve the lives of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer
- Cure Search: unites the Children’s Oncology Group and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation to fund research
- Fertile Hope: provides reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk for infertility
- Gilda’s Club: provides a support community for people living with cancer, as well as their family and friend
- Leukemia Research Foundation: organization dedicated to conquering all blood cancers by funding research into their causes and cures, and enriching the quality of life of those touched by these diseases.
- Livestrong Foundation: unites people to fight cancer and support prevention, access to screening and care, and improvement of the quality of life for cancer survivors
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services
- National Cancer Institute: conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination and programs related to cancer diagnosis and treatment
- National Children’s Cancer Society: provides support, information and education to those impacted by childhood cancer
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: provides information regarding the importance of bone health
- Oncofertility Consortium: national initiative exploring the reproductive future of cancer survivors
- Planet Cancer: an online community of young adults with cancer
- Sam Fund: assists young adult survivors by providing financial support through the distribution of grants and scholarships
- True North Treks: supports young adult cancer survivors by taking them on short-term treks in nature
Stem Cell Transplant Resources
Local Survivors Giving Back with Their Own Foundations