Dr. Abby Rosenberg recently assumed a leadership role in the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She is also a researcher in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research. Dr. Rosenberg happens to love to write, so she’ll be contributing to On the Pulse from time to time. Below, she talks about her own experiences as a teen, and what it’s like for teens with cancer to balance those struggles while battling a serious illness.
Dr. Abby Rosenberg is the new medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program
It is with excitement and some nervousness that I begin my role as the new medical leader of our Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Why am I nervous? I love working with teens and young adults. But, I also remember my own adolescence and young adulthood. It wasn’t easy. I was socially awkward. Painfully insecure. A little bit lonely. I was a good student, a decent soccer player, and (unfortunately) an inconsistent friend. I wanted desperately to fit in, but never quite did. I believed that each boyfriend was “the one”…until suddenly he wasn’t. I fought with my mother constantly; I wanted her to be my friend and never would have admitted that I really needed her to be my mom. I couldn’t wait to move out, to be independent, to prove to the world that I was somebody.
Adolescence and young adulthood is a period of life that is supposed to be characterized by struggle. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but I think it’s true. It is the time when we develop our self-identities. Our independence. We navigate peer relationships. Romantic relationships. Family and community roles. We begin to set our educational, vocational, and other life goals. We take on real responsibilities. Put bluntly, we grow up.
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
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.
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.
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 »
Last 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.
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 »
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 »
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.”
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.”
The first patient in a cellular immunotherapy Phase 1 cancer trial at Seattle Children’s has had a positive response to T-cell therapy. The 23-year-old patient, Lynsie Conradi, from Bellingham, Wash. received the welcome news yesterday. Conradi signed up for the study after experiencing a second relapse of leukemia earlier this year.
The new treatment involves drawing blood from the patient, reprogramming their infection-fighting T-cells to find and destroy cancer cells, and infusing the blood back into their body.
“Results show that Lynsie has had a positive response to the T-cell therapy and, at this time, we do not detect any leukemia cells,” said Rebecca Gardner, MD, principal investigator for the clinical trial.
The next step for Lynsie is a stem cell transplant, with the aim of clearing the cancer from her body. The goal of the immunotherapy cancer trial was to get her to this stage. Read full post »
It’s been one month since Seattle Children’s new cancer, critical and emergency care expansion opened to patients and the inpatient units are already full. The new Emergency Department (ED) on the ground floor of the building has also seen higher-than-normal patient volumes. Patients and staff are giving Building Hope high marks.
“It’s unbelievable to see it as a real building. It’s amazing that it’s so similar to the cardboard mockup we built three years ago,” says Mandy Hansen, Building Hope project manager. “There’s a great sense of pride about all the hard work that went into building a space that really supports our patients and families.”
New inpatient rooms already full
The new critical care and cancer care units in Building Hope filled up almost immediately after the building opened. Twenty patients moved into the new cancer unit on April 21, but volumes quickly grew. At times since the opening, all 48 beds in the unit have been full (up from 33 beds in the previous unit). Read full post »
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