Hollywood actress Joan Cusack raises awareness of cancer care advances at Comer Children's Hospital

November 24, 2008

Coleson Arends and Joan Cusack Cusack high-fives Coleson Arends, 4, from Naperville, who has leukemia

Joan Cusack, one of Hollywood's funniest actresses and a past Oscar nominee, visited children undergoing cancer treatment at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. Cusack spotlighted the need for continued advancements in research and treatment for pediatric oncology.

The event was sponsored by Frankie's on the Park in Lincoln Park, and "Facing the Mirror with Cancer," make-up artist Lori Ovitz's guide to help cancer patients feel better about their appearance.

Cusack talked one-on-one with patients and their families to offer encouragement and support. Some of the children she saw had been undergoing treatment for a long time, while others had just started. Children had the opportunity to see her movie "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl," which was released last summer.

Joan Cusack and Abigail Mendoza Cusack with Abigail Mendoza, 5, of Chicago, who has neuroblastoma

Pizza was dished out and the movie shown in the playroom at the Children's Hospital. The movie tells the story of a child facing tough times with courage during the 1930s Great Depression, and it was broadcast to inpatient rooms for children who could not attend the party. Cusack also toured the oncology floor and personally visited children.

"Progress is being made in the fight against cancer, but there is so much more that needs to be done to make strides in research so that tomorrow, cancer treatment can be improved. I wanted to be here today to let these children know that hope and inspiration are here," Cusack said.

Frankie's on the Park presented John Cunningham, MD, chief of pediatric oncology and hematology, with an $800 check for Comer Children's Hospital. The donation was part of the boutique's season-long series of events to bring financial support to Chicago-area children's hospitals. Frankie's on the Park, which offers clothing for teenagers and pre-teens, is donating a portion of sales as part of its "Frankie's Kids for Kids!" program.

Lisa Rolfe Burik, co-owner of the boutique, notes that her customers are at a critical age where they learn about philanthropic giving. Therefore, her store strives to set an example.

"Kids really have big hearts and want to help other kids. Our goal is to help them to do that," Burik said.

A favorite local celebrity, Cusack learned to act while growing up in Evanston and has a career that has spanned more than three decades. She has appeared in films such as "Runaway Bride," "Married to the Mob," "Working Girl," and "Sixteen Candles."

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

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Press Contact

John Easton
(773) 702-0025
john.easton@uchospitals.edu