Last week, 18-year-old Michael Albrecht walked down the hall of Seattle Children’s Cancer Care Unit in his purple cap and gown. His tassel and honor cords swaying as he walked with his IV pole by his side. He couldn’t attend his high school graduation because was undergoing cancer treatment, and so his care team put on a special graduation just for him at Seattle Children’s. It wasn’t how he envisioned his graduation, but as he always does, he looked on the bright side of things. He had made it.
He posed for photos, high-fived his nurses and doctors and received a mock diploma his child life specialist created for him. It wasn’t the real thing, but the experience was close enough to bring a smile to Michael’s face. The simple ceremony wasn’t the only thing his care team had planned though. They had more in store to celebrate such a monumental milestone. Read full post »
In celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, On the Pulse shares a story about 17-year-old Torin, a Seattle Children’s patient who battled cancer. After years of treatment and rehabilitation, Torin is now standing strong, yet continues to face challenges that come with identifying as gender non-binary. Torin talks about their struggle and overcoming oppression by not being afraid to express their authentic self.
From as early as Torin could remember, they used writing as a way of expressing emotion.
“I knew I loved writing when I wrote my first series of stories in elementary school,” Torin said. “They were about the adventures of ‘Pencil Man,’ a superhero who had the power to draw and erase things.”
Although Torin finds the plot of the story silly now, it serves as a poignant theme in their life.
Each individual should have the power to create their own story and be true to themself.
Read full post »
Today, U.S. News & World Report named Seattle Children’s to its Honor Roll of the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation.
The annual survey ranks hospitals on outcomes and quality-related information, including success in managing patients, commitment to best practices, nurse staffing ratios, safety, and availability of specialty care. Rankings also factor in each specialty’s reputation, as assessed by specialists at other institutions around the country.
For 2019, Seattle Children’s is ranked #10 out of nearly 200 pediatric hospitals that were evaluated. U.S. News & World Report ranks pediatric hospitals in 10 specialty areas. In every one, Seattle Children’s ranked in the top 20, and several ranked in the top 10:
- Nephrology: #8
- Diabetes and Endocrinology: #10
- Neurology and Neurosurgery: #10
- Cancer: #11
- Pulmonary: #12
- Neonatology: #14
- Urology: #15
- Cardiology and Heart Surgery: #16
- Orthopedics: #17
- Gastroenterology and GI Surgery: #18
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Jay Jones, wife Kara, and their daughter Hunter Rose enjoying time at home in 2018 in between chemo treatments.
Dads are expected to instinctively be strong like a bull, right? That means stepping up to the plate and handling any situation that arises with ease. However, it is much more difficult to keep up this facade in times of tremendous stress, like learning your daughter has a life-threatening disease. The problem for me was that it was impossible to live up to the kind of “strong” I was telling myself I needed to be.
Up until my daughter’s stage four high-risk neuroblastoma diagnosis in 2017, I believed in the stereotypical definition of strong. Yet at the end of that first day, I realized my definition of strong was off a bit.
Read full post »
Madeline Boese, with her mom Terri, cancer-free after a 12-year battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
When Madeline Boese was 14, she had visions of pointe shoes, tutus and sugar plums dancing in her head. She dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina, and hoped for a future in the spotlight doing what she loved.
Unfortunately, her body had different plans.
One day in ballet class in December 2006, she noticed an odd golf ball-sized lump on her left thigh below her pink tights. Her mom, Terri Boese, said a trip to their doctor in their hometown of Plano, Texas, led to a bone-chilling discovery.
“I was terrified when I heard ‘malignancy detected,’” Boese said. “It was awful and so out of the blue. I felt like I was going to hyperventilate, and it took all I had to hold myself together.”
Madeline was immediately referred to a hospital in Dallas where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). From there, Boese said everything moved rapidly as Madeline began what would be two and a half years of grueling chemotherapy treatment.
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There was one thing that was brighter than 8-year-old Jana Staudenraus’ coral ski jacket and orange helmet as she flew down the mountain at Stevens Pass this weekend on a sit ski: her big smile. As she came to a stop at the bottom of the slope, her family was there cheering, celebrating the first time Jana had ever skied. The exuberant little girl couldn’t wait to do another run. “I want to go again,” she exclaimed. “I want to go fast.”
Another lap down, with her ski instructor tethered behind her, Jana was beaming with joy.
“Did you see me?” Jana asked her mom.
“Yes. You are doing such a great job,” her mother replied.
“I fell once,” Jana said frowning slightly.
“Yes,” her mother said sympathetically. “But just like in life, what do we do when we fall?” she asked warmly. Read full post »
Miguel Navarro is finally getting back to doing what he loves most: driving.
“Driving has always been an escape for me,” said Miguel. “It’s where I feel most at home. When you’re driving, you forget everything else around you.”
Miguel’s family and care team supported him in the grandstands of the speedway. They each adorned a shirt that said, “Miguel’s Pit Crew.”
When he was first diagnosed with cancer, Miguel was told he may never be able to drive again. It was a reality he couldn’t comprehend or accept.
“I knew I’d drive again,” said Miguel. “I always knew I’d get through this.”
He promised himself he’d get behind the wheel again, and recently, he realized that dream in a special way, thanks to Seattle Children’s.
In the grandstands of Pacific Raceways, Miguel’s family, along with his care team, beamed with pride at the sight of Miguel zooming around the race track. Adorning t-shirts that read, “Miguel’s Pit Crew,” they cheered him on. Read full post »
Danica Taylor, 3, has undergone treatment at Seattle Children’s for an aggressive, very rare type of brain tumor known as atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, or ATRT.
Recalling the treatments her daughter has had over the past year for an aggressive, very rare type of brain tumor known as atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, or ATRT, Audrey Taylor says it’s like watching a game where your favorite sports team keeps losing and then regaining the lead.
“There are so many times when you feel like you totally got this, followed by moments where you’re not really sure what’s going to happen next,” she said.
Diagnosed with ATRT at 21 months old, Danica Taylor, now 3, has endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, two brain surgeries, laser ablation and proton beam radiation therapy to try to stop the fast-growing tumor.
Danica remained strong through it all.
“She’s just the bravest and toughest kid I know,” Taylor said. “Whenever I have to do something hard, I summon my inner Danica.” Read full post »
Dr. Rebekah Fenton (left) and her sister Elisabeth Lucien stay upbeat as they wait to hear whether Fenton is a donor match.
At the age of 17, Dr. Rebekah Fenton’s sister, Elisabeth Lucien, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. It rocked her family’s world. When Elisabeth relapsed and faced a second bone marrow transplant, Fenton, now a third-year resident at Seattle Children’s, gave her sister more than just emotional support. Below, Fenton shares her experience as a bone marrow donor.
“If you have to get cancer, this is the one to get.”
That’s what the oncologist said when he told us my sister Elisabeth had Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Stunned by the diagnosis, my parents teared up. My brother Michael and I huddled next to Elisabeth in the hospital bed and bawled. Elisabeth was stoic. She was 17.
We were told that the five-year survival rate is 90%, and we believed those odds, combined with our faith, would help Elisabeth (and us) persevere. Read full post »
Ruth Garcia, 17, received treatment from Seattle Children’s for her melanoma.
During seventh-grade gym class, Ruth Garcia remembers a friend pointing out a black mole she had on her left knee. Ruth didn’t think much about it until two years ago, when she began to feel pain in her knee and noticed that the mole had grown and changed colors to gray and red.
“That’s when I started to worry more,” said Ruth, now 17.
In spring 2016, Ruth’s mother took her to see her primary care provider near the family’s home in Walla Walla, Washington. They did a biopsy on the mole, and she was diagnosed with spitzoid melanoma. Ruth was referred to Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
A child born in the U.S. has about a one in 40 chance of developing melanoma during their lifetime. Seattle Children’s sees about six children a year who were either misclassified with melanoma or have spitzoid melanoma. The cause of spitzoid melanoma is unknown.
“I was surprised,” said Ruth. “I never thought something like that would happen to me.” Read full post »