On the Pulse

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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Results of a parental survey may help predict childhood immunization status

Survey checkbox

Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise. Nationally, it’s an issue, and the non-medical exemption rate continues to increase annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.6 percent of children entering kindergarten in Washington state in 2012 had an exemption, and the figure was 6.1 percent in Illinois and Vermont.

Our Seattle-based team of researchers has been investigating if there’s a valid way of identifying parents who are hesitant enough early on in their child’s life that they will accept fewer immunizations than is recommended. Knowing early whether a parent is hesitant and will under-immunize their child might be helpful to clinicians as they try to understand and lessen a parent’s vaccine concerns.

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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 »

Child passenger safety, keeping kids safe while on the road

Child Passenger SafetyPeople often say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and when put in the context of child passenger safety, that statement couldn’t be more true. Every journey should be safe. Which is why, in recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 15-21), experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital are urging parents to put safety first when traveling in a vehicle with a child.

According to safecar.gov, car accidents are the number one killer of children ages 1 to 12 in the U.S. From 2007 to 2011, a staggering 3,661 children were killed in car accidents and an additional 634,000 children were injured.

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All for one and one for all in the battle against childhood cancer

collaborate

It’s 9 a.m. on a recent rainy morning in Seattle. Julie Park, MD, has her shoes drying out by the heater in her office at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She’s on a conference call with doctors and statisticians from Germany, Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and they’re discussing neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumor in children younger than 1 year of age.

Park leads the Neuroblastoma Committee for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest organization devoted to childhood and adolescent cancer research. COG is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and unites more than 8,000 experts at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

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Helping Kids Cope with Violence in the News

Children are exposed to violent events by seeing them in the news or by hearing about them from friends, and they’re likely to have fears and questions. Studies show that children can suffer long-term emotional damage from exposure to violence in news coverage.

Bob Hilt, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents should be prepared to help their children deal with traumatic events, such as natural disasters and acts of violence.

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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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New heart device at Seattle Children’s improves patients’ survival rate and quality of life

Montana teen becomes first patient at Seattle Children’s to receive the HeartMate II ventricular assist device (VAD) and a heart transplant while being supported with an implantable VAD. He is also the first patient at any pediatric hospital in the Pacific Northwest to leave the hospital with a VAD while waiting for a heart transplant. 

The Heartmate II Ventricular Assist Device

The HeartMate II Ventricular Assist Device

Adam Kingsbury went to see his family doctor for what he thought was a bad cold. It was there that Adam, a 16-year-old from Stevensville, Mont., was diagnosed with asthma and sent home with a prescription for an inhaler and orders to take it easy.

After a few weeks, Adam’s symptoms didn’t improve. He was having trouble breathing so his mom took him back to the doctor where it was discovered that Adam had an abnormal heart rhythm. At age 5, Adam was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy, a condition that makes the heart muscle weak. Because of this, his care team knew it was extremely important to find out what was causing the abnormal heart rhythm right away.

The clinic called Seattle Children’s Montana-based pediatric cardiologist Bruce Hardy, MD to examine Adam’s heart. An echocardiogram revealed that Adam was suffering from cardiomyopathy, a condition which causes the heart to lose its pumping strength. Adam’s heart was failing and he would likely need a heart transplant. Within three hours of seeing Dr. Hardy, Adam and his mom, Kate, were on a medical transport plane to Children’s main campus in Seattle where Adam’s condition could be best treated. Read full post »

Baby Poppy diagnosed with life-threatening heart condition, now thriving on 6-month birthday

This past weekend, baby Poppy Dahl from Belgrade, Mont., celebrated her 6-month birthday. This was a major milestone day for Poppy and her family – Poppy survived and is now home with her family after fighting for her life due to a life-threatening heart condition, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She was diagnosed with the condition before she was born.

A program by Seattle’s KOMO 4 News which aired on Poppy’s half-year birthday, documents Poppy’s story of survival as her family and the teams at Seattle Children’s Hospital and UW Medicine do all they can to give Poppy a fighting chance.

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