Patient Stories

All Articles in the Category ‘Patient Stories’

Benson’s miraculous journey from micro-preemie to on-the-move toddler

The Borgen familyYears ago I was listening to a radiothon for Seattle Children’s Hospital while driving in my car. I was so moved by the patients’ stories of hope and healing, I had to pull into a parking lot because I was crying so hard. I called the number and made a donation – never dreaming that I would have more than a “goodwill” relationship with the hospital.

Fast forward to 2012.

I heard that same radiothon in the car. My eyes swelled with tears and my throat tightened, this time because my newborn son was one of those patients in a bed at Children’s.

My name is Breanna Borgen. They say life can turn on a dime and that was certainly true for my husband, Erik, and me.

Early in our first pregnancy all seemed to be going well when I very unexpectedly went into labor at 25 weeks. Though my doctors did everything they could to stop my delivery, our son Benson was born almost four months early on Sept. 11, 2011, at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). He weighed a pound and a half, measured 11 inches long and immediately received a breathing tube because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

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Jennifer’s story of struggle and hope after twin boys born at just 24 weeks

In honor of World Prematurity Day this Sunday, Nov. 17, Jennifer Sinconis shares her twin boys’ incredible struggle and journey after being born at just 24 weeks, each weighing only about a pound.

Aidan and Ethan todayI remember finding out I was pregnant. My husband and I had just started trying, and we couldn’t have been happier. I also remember the shock when I found out I was carrying twins – identical twin boys. My pregnancy was pretty easy and uneventful. I was young and healthy, so we really didn’t have any major concerns. Looking back, that shows exactly how naïve I was of the potential complications that can come during a pregnancy.

The day that I hit 24 weeks I ended up being rushed to the ER. My placenta had detached, I was hemorrhaging and my boys were on their way. The doctors tried unsuccessfully to stop the labor. I remember asking my OB-GYN what this meant. What would happen if my children were born this early?  His response was simply, “It’s not good.”

Born 16 weeks premature, Aidan weighed 1 pound, 14 ounces and Ethan weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. Neither one was breathing when they were born. The doctors were able to resuscitate Aidan fairly quickly, but Ethan took about five minutes. His throat was so tiny that they had a hard time getting the ventilator tube in.

My world shattered. I was not able to move after my emergency C-section, and it was over 24 hours before I was allowed to see my boys. I remember the panic in my mom’s face that evening – she was sure that I would miss the opportunity to see them alive.

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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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The story behind Landon Browne: The 7-year-old who honored his surgeon by dressing up as him for Halloween

Landon Browne and Dr. Jay Rubinstein

During a recent visit to Seattle Children’s, 7-year-old Landon Browne dressed up as his favorite surgeon, Jay Rubinstein, to honor and celebrate him at this Halloween time of year. We suspect you saw the related media coverage, and wanted to share more about Landon, who has captured the public’s interest.

There are landmark moments in every child’s life that a parent likes to document. The first time he rolls over, crawls, stands and walks are among the moments worth noting. But for Alysia and Brendan Browne, the moments they got really excited about for their son, Landon, relate to his hearing.

“When he said, ‘butter’ for the first time, I threw open the front door and yelled, ‘He said, butter!” The neighbors probably thought I was crazy,” Alysia said, with a smile.

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Lessening the growing pains with teen heart transplant transition day

Teen transition day group talk

Transitions are a part of life. Becoming more independent, turning 18 years old, planning for college – these are transitions every teenager must face. It’s the gray area between adolescence and adulthood, a time when most teenagers step out from the shadows of their parents and head into the world in search of self-sufficiency. For some, however, this can be daunting, especially when it comes to taking ownership of one’s own health.

For a group of 11 teenagers at Seattle Children’s Hospital who have all at one time or another had a heart transplant, their transition means taking a more hands on approach to their personal health.

They are now old enough to be the drivers of their own healthcare decisions and they are old enough to transition out of Children’s to continue care at adult institutions. Read full post »

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 »

Patient voices: At age 27, Hunter puts his life on hold to fight cancer

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing a series of stories about some of our incredible patients who have overcome cancer or are currently fighting the disease.

At 27 years old, Hunter Storey had a great life in Sun Valley, Idaho. He worked as a fireman, enjoyed spending time with his girlfriend of eight years, and was an avid skier and ski instructor.

However, last December things started to change.

It was ski season and he was coaching ski racing to a group of high school students when, one day, he noticed a painful lump on his shin that didn’t seem right. He decided to see a doctor.

After what was first thought to be a broken bone, seven months later, he learned it was cancer – Ewing sarcoma to be exact. Ewing sarcoma is a bone cancer that mainly affects children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 years old, but there are cases that occur at all ages.

“It was of course very shocking when I was diagnosed,” said Hunter. “But I was really lucky because I had caught it early.”

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Patient voices: Hunter Schroeder celebrates two years cancer free

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing a series of stories about some of our incredible patients who have overcome cancer or are currently fighting the disease.

Hunter Schroeder OBK at Ballpark 8.25.13On Sept. 19, 2013, 8-year-old Hunter Schroeder celebrated one of the biggest milestones of his life – it marked his second year cancer free.

“He’s perfect.”

That’s all his mother, Heather Schroeder, heard when the tests results came back from his two-year checkup. And with that, the weight of the world lifted off her shoulders. She was finally able to relax and breathe again.

He was healthy and perfect, exactly what she’d been praying to hear ever since her son was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the myeloid cells, in 2011.

“It’s taken a while stop panicking about every bruise and every fever, and to see the hospital and not think his cancer has come back. But after two years, we’re finally getting there,” said Heather. “We’re finally getting back to normal, or at least adjusting to our new normal.”

She can, however, vividly remember the difficult time when the bruises on Hunter’s body did signify something very wrong with her little boy. Read full post »

Patient voices: Stacy celebrates 10 years cancer free, reflects on being chemo Barbie

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we will be sharing a series of stories about some of our incredible patients who have overcome cancer or are currently fighting the disease.

My name is Stacy Helton and I am a 10-year cancer survivor. I celebrated this momentous milestone in July by flying to Florida to be with my family. We reflected upon how far we’ve come over the years and how much we’ve grown together.

Before sharing where I am today, it’s important to describe what has got me here.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma when I was 16, the day before Christmas break my junior year of high school.

It was by happenstance that I learned I had cancer. I had slipped getting into my car, hitting my chin and chest on my steering wheel, and so my mom and I went to urgent care where I got a chest X-ray. Surprisingly it showed a tumor. Later I learned it was cancer.

It might sound funny, but when I got the news my biggest question was if I could start treatment after junior prom. I had already purchased my dress and had been looking forward to prom for months. Of course to my disappointment, I couldn’t wait and had to start treatment immediately.  

While everyone else was making last minute plans for the holiday break, I was on a flight from Anchorage to Seattle Children’s Hospital consumed with feelings of uncertainty. I was hopeful that treatment would go well because doctors said my cancer had a high survival rate, but I didn’t know what was in store for me.

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Patient voices: Jake beats cancer, starts new life at college

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we will be sharing a series of stories about some of our incredible patients who have overcome cancer or are currently fighting the disease.

In the beginning of June 2012, Jake Steiner was on top of the world. At age 18, he had just graduated high school and was looking forward to working as a camp counselor at the Museum of Flight in Seattle over the summer. He would then be heading off to college at Santa Clara University in the fall. Life was good.

That is, until one week after graduation.

Jake had noticed a pain in his leg and he had a bump on the backside of hip bone that was about the size of his hand. He thought he had just pulled a muscle and a little TLC would take care of it, but his dad took him to a doctor because the bump was so large.

It was then that he got an MRI and received some of the worst news of his life: He was told that the bump was a malignant tumor, and after three weeks, he learned it was Ewing sarcoma. Ewing sarcoma is a bone cancer that mainly affects children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. It’s the second most common bone cancer in children, but only accounts for about 1 percent of all childhood cancers. There are about 200 new diagnoses of the disease in people younger than 20 years old in the U.S. each year.

“I didn’t know what my future was going to hold, but I knew I was not going to be able to go to college in the fall, which really bummed me out,” said Jake. “I was also very scared because I thought I caught it too late and I didn’t know if the cancer had spread. I thought I would die young, and that terrified me.”

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