KMOV -- This month marks the grand opening of the Cardinals Kids Cancer Center at St. John's Mercy Children's Hospital.
The $2.5 Millionexpansion was financed through donor dollars that began with a $1Million challenge grant from Cardinals co-owner David Pratt. News-4's Maggie Crane takes us inside the innovative, kid-friendly cancer center.
Welcome to the Cardinals Kids Cancer Center. While cancer is certainly no fun, treatment -- here -- can be.
"This is where I come to work, and we have fun at work every single day," Dr. Robert Bergamini, Chief Oncologist at St. John's Mercy Children's Hospital, says.
Dr. Bergamini, better known as "Doctor Bob," is an expert at curing childhood cancers.
"But now the challenge is to make sure they can really live up to their entire potential -- educationally, cognitively and socially," Dr. Bergamini says.
The staff is commited to the holistic care of kids -- a nonconventional approach that aims to treat not only the sick kid, but the child's whole family.
"We encourage siblings to be here with their family, we encourage one or two friends to come along for the teenagers -- whatever it will take to maintain the tie to the non-cancer, the normal world," Dr. Bergamini explains.
Jacob Beckemeyer,3, has been coming to the cancer center for most of his young life. Diagnosed with Leukemia, he faces another year and a half of rigorous treatment.
"The less time that we were in the hospital, it seemed like the better he recovered," Jamie Beckemeyer, Jacob's mom, says.
Each room in the new center is designed to help improve Jacob's physical, neurological and social needs -- all of which often suffer after chemo.
"'Dance, Dance Revolution' is a wonderful game, but it's also aerobic conditioning," Dr. Bergamini says. "And it's far better, I think, for the kids to be out and dancing than it is for them to sit there watching their chemo drip in in an IV."
"It's really helped him get through it," Beckemeyer says of the cancer center's approach to healing. "Laughter and play -- things that are part of a childhood -- are still a part of his life."