Cancer and Blood Disorders

All Articles in the Category ‘Cancer and Blood Disorders’

Nina fights a brain tumor at 22, adopts the motto “just keep swimming”

In honor of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, former Seattle Children’s patient Nina Garkavi shares her experience of battling a brain tumor as a young adult.

Nina with her dog Oscar at the Run of Hope in 2012.

Nina with her dog Oscar at the Run of Hope in 2012

My name is Nina Garkavi and I am now 25 years old. I would have never thought I would be so closely connected to Seattle Children’s Hospital. My family moved to America when I was just 4 years old and I went through my childhood thankfully not needing any of the services that are provided by Seattle Children’s.

After finishing high school in Seattle, I moved to New York City for college. I scored a job on Fifth Avenue right after graduating in 2010 and began working in the big city. While it was all new and filled with busy days, I really felt like this was the start of my new journey and I was climbing up the big New York City ladder. I had to think about a lot of things – how would I afford living in the city? What train would I take to get to work? Where would I do laundry because there wasn’t a machine in the building? All those questions and more were filling up my mind but never did I think about cancer or what I would do if I got it. Not at 22. That was not something I was going to have to worry about…right? Wrong.

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Ibrahim “I-Bizzle” shows off his crib in Seattle Children’s teen and young adult cancer unit

Eighteen-year-old Ibrahim El-Salaam, aka “I-Bizzle,” was born with a blood disorder called sickle cell disease and has been coming to Seattle Children’s Hospital for as long as he can remember. His disease has required him to spend a lot of time in the Inpatient Cancer Unit at Seattle Children’s, which houses patients who require inpatient stays for both cancer and blood disorders. When he’s there, he likes to find fun ways to pass the time – like making an “MTV Cribs”-inspired video to show off his pad in the country’s first Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Unit, which opened last year.

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Milton meets the team that saved his life

Milton Wright III meets the lab technicians who engineered his T-cells and helped save his life.

Milton Wright III meets the lab technicians who engineered his T-cells and helped save his life.

Some moments are so significant the weight of them seems to hang in the air. I experienced this first-hand when cancer survivor Milton Wright III met the people who helped save his young life.

You may remember Wright, the leukemia patient who achieved remission thanks to an immunotherapy protocol designed by Mike Jensen, MD, at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Wright is doing well and recently had a chance to meet the scientist who designed his therapy, the technicians who modified his cells and the family whose foundation helped fund his treatment. Read full post »

New law highlights need for pediatric research funding

gabbi“Stop talking and start doing.”

The 10-year-old Virginia girl who spoke these words to lawmakers helped increase funding for pediatric research this year with the passing of a new law, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute is celebrating the news.

“Pediatrics gets a very small share of the National Institutes of Health budget, certainly not proportional to the number of children in the United States,” says Jim Hendricks, PhD, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Any dollars that make their way to pediatric research may help our patients and other children around the world.”

A little girl makes a difference

Fifth grader Gabriella Miller became a widely celebrated childhood cancer activist during her 11 month battle with brain cancer. In the weeks before her death on Oct. 26, she urged lawmakers to increase support of pediatric research.

“We need action,” she said during an interview for a cancer awareness documentary. Read full post »

Professional Bull Riders brighten cancer patient’s day

Austin Dunlap, middle, with professional bull riders Chase Outlaw, left, and Ty Pozzobon, right.

Austin Dunlap, middle, with Professional Bull Riders Chase Outlaw, left, and Ty Pozzobon, right.

Thanks to a visit from a few very special cowboys, today is a day that 16-year-old Austin Dunlap will never forget. Dunlap, who is being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is a big fan of Professional Bull Riders (PBR). But due to his recent bone marrow transplant, he is unable to attend their event this weekend in Tacoma and wished the riders could instead come to him. And so, Seattle Children’s Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) contacted PBR and made it happen!

Dunlap and his family met bull rider, Ty Pozzobon, and 2013 PBR Touring Pro Champion, Chase Outlaw. Pozzobon and Outlaw brought Dunlap signed PBR gear and hung out while watching videos and swapping rodeo stories.

Dunlap had some fun stories of his own as he has been involved in rodeo events in Montana from the time he could walk. From mutton busting to riding steers and team roping, he is no stranger to the rodeo.

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From hopeless to cancer free

AmainLast fall, 20-year-old Milton Wright III was given a death sentence. Today, he is expected to live a long, healthy life. This is the incredible story of how two determined researchers and the parents of a young boy came together to save him.

On Sept. 18, 2013, 20-year-old Milton Wright III walked into Seattle Children’s Hospital and received some devastating news.

Leukemia. Again. The third time in his young life, to be precise.

Wright wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. He had been worried his cancer was back and went to the hospital alone to avoid worrying his mom and three younger siblings. Still, the news was paralyzing.

“I really felt like I was coming up in the world,” he said. “I thought I was done with cancer.”

Then the news got worse. Wright’s leukemia had become resistant to chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant could cure his cancer, but he would have to be in remission first, and that couldn’t happen without chemotherapy. His chances of survival were dismal. Read full post »

Travis Pays it Forward

Travis, Turner and Tynan Patterson (from left to right) packed the car for last year’s toy drive for Children’s.

Travis, Turner and Tynan Patterson (from left to right) packed the car for last year’s toy drive for Children’s.

This month, Travis Patterson and his 16-year-old son, Turner, are spearheading their seventh annual holiday toy drive for patients at Seattle Children’s.

It’s just one way the Pattersons give back to the place that saved Turner’s life and changed Travis’s forever.

Nearly 11 years after Travis first walked through Children’s doors, holding tight to a very sick Turner, he is a grateful parent, a dedicated volunteer and – since earlier this year – an engaged employee.  In February, the journeyman electrician joined the Plant Operations team.

And he’s not the only family member working at Children’s. His older son (and Turner’s big brother), Tynan Patterson, works in the Nutrition Department.

When Travis makes his hospital rounds to work on the emergency generator or fulfill Fix-It requests, Travis brings the tools of his trade and something else – a type of compassion that can only come from been-there, done-that experience.

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Shopping for a cause this holiday season at Bargain Boutiques

Bargain BoutiquesWith frost appearing on our windshields and temperatures dropping, we find ourselves again nearing the height of the holiday season. And with only one week left to go before Christmas, holiday shoppers are on a tight deadline to find the latest deals and steals before time runs out. But there’s no need to worry because at area Bargain Boutiques, the deals are not only good for your pocketbook, they also benefit children.

There is little doubt that there is a tremendous amount of shopping that goes on during December. According to the American Research Group the average American spends nearly $1000 on gifts around the holidays each year.

What you might not know is that that this increased spending is also accompanied by an increase in giving around the holidays each year. If you talk to Eva Campbell from Seattle Children’s, she’d probably tell you that shopping for gifts and donating to a worthy cause don’t need to be done separately.

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Wedding wish becomes a reality for patient family thanks to cancer care team

The Olivera's wedding day

Photo courtesy of Soulumination

Tuesday was a day that the Olivera family will never forget – It was a beautiful day of unity, celebration and joy. It was a bright spot in what has been one of the most challenging years of their lives.

Oct. 22 was the day that Saul and Alejandra Olivera were finally able to get married after three years of being engaged. “Making it official” was something they were very excited to do and something their 9-year-old daughter, Miranda, had wished for.

From a limo, cake, caterer and photographer, to a chocolate fountain (the most important element for Miranda) – the big day was complete. And it all became a reality, within one week’s time, thanks to three members of Miranda’s cancer care team at Seattle Children’s who made it happen with the help of the community.

“It was the most amazing day and we couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Alejandra. “Everything was perfect and Miranda was so happy to be there and be a part of the celebration.”

Now, this wasn’t just any wedding – it was extraordinary. And in order to understand its significance, it’s important to understand the family’s journey, as well as the people that were behind the important day.

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Patient Voices: Kat becomes titanium girl, makes a difference for future cancer patients

Hello my name is Kat Tiscornia and up until March of 2013 I was your typical 8th grader. I loved horseback riding, eventing to be more specific, skiing and spending time with friends and family. Then it all changed. I went to the doctor to have a large bump on my thigh checked out.  I was told what I thought might be a bad bruise had a high probability of being cancer.

After many tests, two biopsy surgeries for my lung and my leg, and a stressful couple of weeks, I was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma. There are approximately 200 new diagnoses of the disease in the U.S. each year. Read full post »