A Nurse and Parent Explains Navigating Pediatric Oncology During COVID-19


A nurse shares what it was like when her daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When she noticed her daughter vomiting, Eugenia Chong already had a lot on her mind: she was four months pregnant with her second child, working in a hospital during a global pandemic and planning a move.

The Chong family. From left to right: Eugenia, Florence, Truman, Rich.

Eugenia and Rich Chong's daughter, Florence, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma when she was 1 year old, just as the COVID-19 pandmeic was beginning.

From left to right: Eugenia, Florence, Truman, Rich.

Photo courtesey of Eugenia Chong.

Chong immediately took Florence, her 1-year-old daughter, to her pediatrician who dismissed the persistent vomiting as symptoms of a stomach virus. However, Chong, a clinical nurse specialist at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, decided to get a second opinion.

The second physician urged for Florence to be taken to the emergency room. There, she was ordered a CT scan which showed that Florence had a large tumor in her brain. After emergency surgery at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles to remove the tumor, Florence was diagnosed with stage 4 medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in August 2020.

Florence celebrated her fourth birthday this year and currently has no evidence of disease (NED).

In today’s episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, Chong explains what it was like to go from a nurse to a parent of a child with cancer, how the childhood cancer space has evolved in the past 20 years, the unexpected upsides of navigating cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of community as a cancer caregiver and more.

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