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24,000 'Jester & Pharley' Dolls to Ring Away Trauma In Children's Cancer Centers Nationwide; Nice "Jester" From Bristol-Myers Squibb.

I Really Love the Way the Jester & Pharley Doll(R) Jingles. It Makes Me

Laugh. It Also Makes My Sister Giggle. I Like to Hold the Doll When I Get My

Spinal Taps. The Doll and Book Make Me Feel Better When I Get Chemo.

-Morgan O'Brien, 8-Years-Old, Baltimore, Md.

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Five-year-old Meghan Flynn walks into the 3rd floor Hematology/Oncology Unit. She does this once every other week. By now, four months after being diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia, she is familiar with the humming of the chemotherapy machines, treatment room and needles. But her new friend, The Jester & Pharley Doll, is what helps her through her bi-weekly spinal taps.

In 1999, more than 8,400 children under age 14 will be diagnosed with cancer. These children will undergo complex medical procedures in environments that can be imposing and frightening. Now, help is coming to thousands of children at children's cancer centers across the country in the form of The Jester & Pharley Doll(R).

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today announced a donation of 24,000 Jester & Pharley Dolls to more than 200 pediatric cancer centers nationwide, just in time for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The donation was presented at the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center of Miller Children's Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in Southern California and will be received by the Children's Oncology Group, the national pediatric oncology group.

The colorful Jester & Pharley Doll is based on the title character of the popular children's book, The Jester Has Lost His Jingle. In the book, the Jester awakens one morning to discover that the world has lost its laughter, and sets off on a quest, with Pharley, his helpmate, to discover where laughter might be hiding.

The Jester & Pharley Doll is used to help children through procedures such as spinal taps or bone marrow aspirations. During these procedures, children hold the doll and focus on remaining still so the bells do not jingle. "The child concentrates so hard on holding the doll still that it helps take their mind off the procedure," explained Jerry Finklestein, MD, a pediatric oncologist from Miller Children's Hospital.

The Jester Has Lost His Jingle was written by David Saltzman as his senior English and art project at Yale while being treated for Hodgkin's disease. He died not long after graduation, 11 days before his 23rd birthday. David wrote and illustrated the book knowing how his life-affirming message, that laughter is inside all of us, would be of distinct help to children with cancer and other special needs. His parents, Joe and Barbara Saltzman, working with Parents Against Cancer, a non-profit support group at the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center, established a donor program that has brought thousands of dolls and copies of the book to these children since 1995.

"The Jester & Pharley Doll helps health care professionals provide children with emotional support. The contribution of the dolls by Bristol- Myers Squibb shows their commitment to not only treating cancer but also to helping the child's spirit as well," said Barbara.

Rick Winningham, President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology/Immunology announced, "By donating 24,000 Jester & Pharley Dolls to pediatric oncology centers, we hope to provide encouragement, joy and strength to children fighting cancer. It is our goal to provide the dolls to all pediatric patients diagnosed with cancer to help them stay positive and remember the importance of laughter. We feel that treating the emotional needs of all cancer patients, especially children, is as important as fighting the disease itself."

In addition to the 24,000 Jester & Pharley Dolls, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is donating 600 copies of The Jester Has Lost His Jingle to the pediatric oncology centers. The books will stay at the facilities to be read to or by visiting children. The dolls will find permanent homes with the children and their families who most need to find the laughter within themselves.

Pediatric cancer patients, or their families, who are interested in receiving one of The Jester & Pharley Dolls should contact their local pediatric cancer center. For more information on The Jester Has Lost His Jingle or The Jester & Pharley Doll, visit the Jester's web site at www.jesterbook.com.

The mission of the Children's Oncology Group is to cure and prevent childhood and adolescent cancer through scientific discovery and compassionate care. With past success and new hopes, the major pediatric clinical trials groups based in North America (the Children's Cancer Group, the Pediatric Oncology Group, the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group and the National Wilms Tumor Study Group) have agreed to formally bring together their efforts to further accelerate the goal of curing and, eventually, preventing cancer in children and adolescents. The willingness to bring together these efforts into a single, focused Cooperative Group, marks the beginning of a new era in the fight to cure and prevent childhood cancer.

(R) The Jester & Pharley Doll is a registered trademark of The Jester Co., Inc.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 30, 1999
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