Children in the Valley have access to some of the most comprehensive cancer care in the region, thanks to the two hospitals that are solely dedicated to pediatric patients — Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the soon-to-be-opened Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital houses the state’s largest pediatric cancer program and is a long-standing member of Children’s Oncology Group research consortium. PCH also boasts the Valley’s only pediatric blood-and-marrow transplant (BMT) program, thanks to its partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Phoenix Children’s has state-of-the-art rooms to meet the special needs of BMT patients who have suppressed immune systems.

“We also have a long-term survivor follow-up program, which is really important in pediatrics because you’re not just taking care of a disease, you’re taking care of a child, and those children can be 18 months when they’re first being treated, they could be teenagers when they’re first being treated, either because of the disease they have or the treatment or the surgery or the radiation; its not like adults where a vast majority of patients don’t survive,” says Dr. Michael Etzl Jr., director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and co-director of the neuro-oncology program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “At least 70 percent of all pediatric oncology patients are long-term survivors. We actually have three of the nurses that are working for us that are childhood survivors of cancer.”

PCH also works to care not just for young cancer patients’ bodies, but also for their spirits. As part of that effort, the hospital offers its Rainbow Kids’ monthly events. Along with providing some needed fun, the events give families who have a child with cancer the opportunity to meet other families facing the same challenge.

The fight against pediatric cancer in the Valley gets a boost next month with the opening of Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.

Cardon Children’s Medical Center is the new name and home for Banner Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Medical Center. The new children’s hospital is named after the long time, Mesa-based Cardon family, which operates the real estate company the Cardon Group, in recognition of its $10 million contribution. The Cardon family gift was officially given by Wilford Allen and Phyllis Reneer Cardon, and Banner states that it marks one of the largest donations to children’s health care in Arizona.

“There is no more important cause than the health and care of children,” says Wilford Cardon in a Banner Health statement. “We have been proud to be associated with Banner’s critical work in Arizona for many years and thought this would be a helpful and timely way to elevate pediatric care in this state. Those who have been blessed have an obligation to help those for whom blessings are still on the way.”

Cardon Children’s is a seven-story, 206-bed medical center and is part of Banner Health’s $356 million expansion of its Mesa campus. The expansion has allowed the children’s hospital to move from inside Banner Desert to its own facility on the Banner Desert campus. As a result, thenumber of beds at Cardon’s Children has expanded from 145 to 248.

The first dedicated children’s medical center in the Banner Health system, Cardon has a pediatric emergency room, as well as units for rehabilitation, radiology, intensive care and neonatal intensive care.

Cardon also has a 10-bed unit designed specifically for the needs of children with cancer and their families. The unit features private rooms, convertible sofas for parents, refrigerators, Internet access, flat-screen TVs and video games. The patients also take part in the Beads of Courage program, which helps them keep track of their progress.

Like Phoenix Children’s, Cardon Children’s physicians are board-certified and are members of the Children’s Oncology Group, a national research group. The oncology group works in association with CureSearch, which provides patients with the most advanced treatment options and research trials available.

Cardon Children’s also has partnered with Mesa Public Schools, so young patients don’t fall behind in their schoolwork. Teachers from the district come in and work with kids at their bedsides. For children who can get out of bed, the new hospital has a classroom where they can attend classes.