Patient Stories

All Articles in the Category ‘Patient Stories’

Promising Drug Combination Silences the Rage of Graft-Versus-Host Disease

London Bowater fought for her life for nearly 180 days in the hospital when she developed severe GVHD after a cord blood transplant.

To pass the nearly 180 days she was a patient in Seattle Children’s Cancer Unit with graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), London Bowater took orders from her doctors, nurses and other patients and families for friendship bracelets that she would braid from her hospital bed.

While her handicraft would help fill the time between treatments, it did little to help ease the severe GVHD she developed after a cord blood transplant for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Her hair was falling out and her intestines were hemorrhaging blood, yet somehow my little ray of sunshine still managed to stay positive and touch all the amazing doctors and nurses with her kindness,” said Nicholas Bowater of his then 8-year-old daughter. “At one point the hemorrhaging was so bad, I melted.  I went into the empty room next door and lost it. I knew we would need a miracle.” Read full post »

A Month of Hope for the Gwilliam Family

Atticus Gwilliam was diagnosed with a brain tumor in August 2016.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. But What does ‘awareness’ really mean?

To become aware? To obtain new knowledge? To gain a new perspective? To become informed? To become concerned or even empathetic to an unfamiliar situation?

The concept of awareness can take on many faces, and its perception can change depending on the person you talk to. To the mother who spends her days at a children’s hospital, it’s a sense of defeat and desperation about the path that life has taken her. To the father who lost his son, a harrowing and solemn reminder of a fierce battle once fought. To the general social media patron, it may be a month of raw images that they don’t fully understand.

This was the crossroad we found ourselves in as we entered the doors at Seattle Children’s Hospital 12 long months ago. The world of childhood cancer was not something that was on my radar as a mother of three (with one on the way), let alone with regards to one of my own children. Read full post »

Wyatt’s Creativity Cruises Onto Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Race Car

The design 9-year-old cancer patient Wyatt Zender created for Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 race car.

In just three days, 9-year-old Wyatt Zender and his family will see his artwork come to life on the Chicagoland Speedway.

Wyatt, a cancer patient at Seattle Children’s, was the lucky winner of a coloring contest presented by Great Clips to design the paint scheme for Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Great Clips Strong Against Cancer Chevrolet SS, which Kahne will drive at the first playoff race of the NASCAR Cup Series, The Tales of the Turtles 400, on Sept. 17.

“Our family is so excited to see Wyatt’s colorful design speed down the racetrack,” said Wyatt’s mom, Heather Zender. “This has been a great opportunity to give Wyatt the chance to do something fun and share his story as well.”

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3-D Simulation Before Difficult Surgery Helps Erin Breathe on Her Own

Dr. Kaalan Johnson leads his team through a surgical simulation

Erin McCloskey, 11, has been a regular at Seattle Children’s her entire life. First diagnosed with a rare heart defect, a genetic specialist at Seattle Children’s later discovered she had fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). FOP is a complex condition that turns tissue, ligaments and tendons into bone that is outside the typical skeletal structure. Eventually, a person’s joints lose their mobility and it can cause breathing, movement and eating difficulties.

In August, Erin’s mother, Suzanne, sat with her in her hospital room as she did almost every minute of every day since April. Erin’s bed was stacked with stuffed animals and cards sent from members of the online FOP community who showered her and her family with support.

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Teen’s Determination After Brain Tumor Surgery Takes Her to Harvard

Liesel Von Imhof, 18, doing one of her favorite activities – cross-country skiing.

Liesel Von Imhof, 18, came to Seattle Children’s from her home in Anchorage after learning the reason for her migraines: a ping-pong ball–sized tumor in the middle of her brain. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, here she shares her journey of diligently working to achieve her goals despite recovering from brain tumor surgery during her senior year of high school.

How long does it take to recover from brain surgery? What does “recovery” really mean? Would I be the same as before, or to what degree would I be different? These were the many questions swirling around in my mind on July 12, 2016, when I sat next to my pale-faced mother in the hospital as we learned I had a brain tumor. I was diagnosed with a Pilocytic Astrocytoma tumor in the third ventricle of my brain.

With this diagnosis, I was soon on a journey of self-discovery to learn just how much grit and determination I really had. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to have to go through two brain surgeries. My life depended on it.

I gripped the thin hospital bed and prepared myself for the ride. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Longest-Working Therapy Dog Bids ‘Furwell’ For Retirement

In honor of National Dog Day, On the Pulse is recognizing a special four-legged volunteer who has provided comfort to patients at Seattle Children’s every week for more than 11 years.

If Abe had the ability to talk, he would likely share powerful stories about the thousands of kids he has met throughout his 11-year career as a registered therapy dog.

The road to becoming a therapy dog isn’t easy for most loyal companions, but for Abe, it was his calling.

“I always said he was born to be a therapy dog,” said Judith Bonifaci, Abe’s owner and trusty handler. “From the moment I met him, I could tell he was an old soul who had a special purpose in life.”

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Meet a 6 Year-Old Philanthropist

Ryker Ringstad on his first day of preschool

Someone forgot to tell Ryker Ringstad that he was a patient at Seattle Children’s, not a fundraiser.

A happy, gregarious kiddo with blonde hair and a playful spirit, Ryker bounces around his room at the hospital. He climbs on his dad, Paul, and mother, Sarah. Watching him move, you’d never guess that he just underwent his 14th procedure for the lymphatic anomalies in his tongue and neck. Wearing a Seahawks t-shirt, I ask him who his favorite player is and without missing a beat, he answers “Russell Wilson!”

Ryker hasn’t had an easy path, but as his mother says, “he is one strong, resilient little man.”

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Surgery and Rehab Help Arabelle Lasso Life in Junior Rodeos

On Thursday nights this summer, 7-year-old Arabelle Laddusaw is saddling up alongside other children and teens to compete in the Tomorrow’s Rodeo Champions’ summer rodeo series in her hometown of Billings, Montana. As she sits up straight and grips the reins of her horse in anticipation of the chute opening, her cerebral palsy is the last thing slowing down the thrill of events such as barrel racing, pole bending and the crowd favorite, goat tail tying.

However, the prospect of being able to sit naturally on a horse wasn’t always a future possibility for Arabelle who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that affects muscle movement and limits mobility.

As a toddler, the muscles in Arabelle’s legs were so tightly wound they would scissor – one leg twisting over the other – making it difficult for her to stand upright or simply straighten her legs out in front of her when sitting.

“With her, it was challenging because she required constant assistance,” said Arabelle’s mother, Christine Laddusaw. “She wasn’t just a normal child that you could put down and let play.” Read full post »

Grayson Gets His Shoes: How a Micro Preemie Beat Overwhelming Odds

Grayson, wearing his black and white “Chucks,” weighed 1 pound when he was born. He overcame several life-threatening conditions while in the Seattle Children’s NICU and is now back home with is parents in Idaho.

For Leslie and Jeremy Barnett, Grayson’s black and white Converse Chuck Taylors represent a happy ending to a tough first chapter of life for their son, who weighed just 1 pound when he was born 18 weeks premature last November.

It took eight months and overcoming tremendous adversity for Grayson to grow into the tiny shoes he received the day before his 117-day stay in the Seattle Children’s neonatal intensive care unit ended.

“We were told that Grayson had this Mt. Everest of health challenges to climb,” Leslie Barnett said, recalling a conversation with Seattle Children’s and University of Washington neonatologist Dr. Maneesh Batra when her son was a few days old.

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Boy Imprisoned by Intestinal Disease Finds Life-Changing Treatment

Brennan Henderson was born 3 months premature with a host of debilitating health issues, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition that affects the intestines.

It’s common for parents of young children to worry about the unexpected accident that may occur while they’re out in public.  But for the Henderson family, being prepared for the unexpected was something that lasted well beyond the early years of childhood.

Whether it was attending a family gathering or simply dropping by the grocery store, there was always a looming concern around when their youngest son, Brennan, may have his next vomiting or bowel incontinence episode.

“There were times when we would go to a restaurant and have to cover him with a blanket,” said Brennan’s mother, Gloria Henderson. “We did it to muffle the sound of him vomiting into a bag. It felt awful having to do it, but it was the only option we had.”

Brennan was born 3 months premature with a host of debilitating health conditions, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

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