Kelly Richards had just flown a combat mission over Afghanistan when he got a call from his wife, telling him their daughter, Rylie, had leukemia. As drastic as the news was, the family felt comforted to know that Children’s National would be able to treat the illness and help make sure Rylie could continue doing the things that kids need to do.

“We’ve learned that successful cancer treatment isn’t just about delivering the medications,” says Dr. Jeffrey Dome, chief of Hematology and Oncology. “It’s about making the environment a friendly place where people can feel safe and comfortable during the course of their treatment.”

Thanks to the hospital’s Psychosocial Services, Rylie was able to play music and paint (lions, horses, and dogs were her favorites) at Children’s between treatments. That kind of fun and creative outlet during care is an important part of the reason why kids like Rylie still wear smiles that brighten up our hallways even on the hardest days.

“They always say that the job of a child is to play,” says Rylie’s mom, Tracie, “and at Children’s National, she could still fulfill that need.”

Thanks to the complete care she received at Children’s National—both clinical and psychosocial—a smiling and laughing Rylie was able to ring the hospital’s Victory Bell to celebrate her victory over leukemia and go home healthy and happy.

“We have to rely on the support of our donors to be able to keep doing what we’re doing and to be able to support our patients and families,” Amanda Thompson, medical director of Patient Support Services. “We want our patients not just to survive cancer, but to thrive in spite of it.”

Psychosocial Services 
At the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, we believe that patient outcomes improve significantly when the highest standards of psychosocial care are integrally woven into each child’s interdisciplinary treatment plan. Psychosocial Services provides critical emotional and psychological support to patients and families during their course of treatment that quite often lasts two to three years, if not more. Families do not pay for services and the majority of the care the team provides is not reimbursable via health insurance or other sources. All programs operate with the support of generous benefactors.