Stories

Zachary

Zachary Sessoms was just 2 weeks old when he began treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital to correct his right foot, which had developed in the shape of a “J.” But shortly after a series of orthopedic procedures, new concerns about Zach’s health arose. By the time he was 2 years old, Zach had visited several medical specialists at Children’s. When the bills exceeded the limits of their insurance plan, the Sessoms turned to the hospital for help. “When Children’s told us we qualified for financial assistance, it relieved so much stress during a critical time for our family,” says Zach’s mom, Wendy Sessoms. “Zach is a real patient and we are a real family that has been touched by the generosity of the community.” Today, thanks to the outstanding care he received at Children’s, “Zach is walking, and his physical therapy has been successful,” says Zach’s dad, Carl Sessoms.

Nicholas

When Nicholas was 7 weeks old he was admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital and diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV.) He spent 12 of his 16 day stay at Children's in the Infant Intensive Care Unit where he was on life support for 8 days.

Nicholas received such loving care by all of the doctor's, nurses and respiratory therapists. I would hear the doctor's say during their rounds "What can we be doing better or different to help Nicholas?" Children's not only treated and cared for Nicholas, but our family too. Making sure we had a place to sleep, food to eat and they took extra care in trying to help give us peace knowing that Nicholas was receiving the very best treatment and support.Nicholas is now 6 1/2 years old and VERY full of life and energy. He keeps up with his two older brothers Jake and Henry without missing a beat. He loves to play in the backyard with his brothers and enjoys football, soccer, wrestling and bike riding. This past summer Nicholas even learned how to water ski and kneeboard! Children's means EVERYTHING to our family. Being a Mom of three active boys, we have had our share of stitches and broken bones. And without hesitation we took them to Children's.

Nicholas's story is one of success, and we feel so blessed to be able to share our experience with you. - Nicholas' mom, Stephanie

Gary

One week before his tenth birthday, Gary complained about pain in his shoulder. His parents assumed their son pulled a muscle during soccer practice. But when their pediatrician took an X-ray to rule out a cracked rib, the image showed a mass in Gary's chest. The doctor sent the family to Children's emergency room for more testing.Nothing could have prepared them for the diagnosis: Ewing's sarcoma - a rare form of bone cancer. Fortunately, Dr. Douglas Hawkins, one of the world's leading experts in pediatric sarcomas, was ready to care for Gary with the most advanced treatment available.

Gary endured 14 rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery to combat the cancer. His parents didn't want to think about it, but they were worried about their finances. The cost of Gary's treatment surpassed their health plan's coverage. They were willing to do anything for Gary, including selling their home. But they didn't have to, because they qualified for financial assistance from Children's. They say they'll never forget the day they received the good news - and the sense of relief that they felt. Today, Gary is cancer-free, and his family's lives are finally getting back to "normal."

Julia

When Julia was born, her tiny lungs were severely irritated from breathing in meconium - a sterile dark-colored material from her large intestine. On the fourth day of her life, she took a turn for the worse, and was transported to Children's in a specially outfitted infant ambulance.

Within an hour of arriving at Children's, Julia's care team decided to put her on ECMO - a highly specialized life support system that circulatedoxygenated blood through her body - to give her lungs time to heal. Every step of the way, Julia's care team explained what they were doing and showed her parents how to best support their fragile baby who was hooked up to so many tubes and wires.By day 13, Julia still wasn't showing any signs of improvement. Julia's neonatologist, gently explained that her chances of recovery were growing dimmer.

On day 14, her parents got the news they'd longed to hear: Julia's condition had finally started to improve! As they watched her team shed tears of relief, they realized just how close they'd come to losing their beloved baby girl.Three weeks to the day after Julia was born - 18 of those days on ECMO - Julia was taken off the machine and her parents saw her smile. That evening, they held her in their arms for the very first time.

Logan

Logan started limping early July 2007. He said he twisted his leg at a birthday party. His mom and dad were okay with that and decided to keep an eye on him to make sure it did not get worse. Later that month he started getting fevers as well as lost sensation in his right arm for a day. His parents took him to his local doctor in Puyallup. They did some blood tests and noticed his blood counts were a little out of whack like they were trying to fight something. Logan's family was sent to Seattle Children's Hospital for more tests. They had Logan do a CAT scan. There they found a tumor that was bigger than a softball. It was pushing on his spine, stomach as well as one of his kidneys. Logan was 5 1/2. His tumor was found Thursday July 26th 2007 and he became a big brother the following Monday, when his little brother Peyton was born. The doctors gave Logan a 30% chance to survive Neuroblastoma. Logan fought his cancer for over 8 months. After a long and amazing fight his family finally heard the word REMISSION!

The type of cancer Logan had hides really well. Therefore, Logan has been randomized into an experimental treatment to make sure all the cancer cells that may be hiding are killed. This treatment means another 5 months of intense in hospital treatment. Logan's parents say that he inspires them and everyone he has contact with everyday.

Logan's dad says, "the nurses and doctors on the oncology floor have become part of our family. We had a baby three days after Logan was diagnosed. They have seen how amazing of a big brother Logan is. After an intense surgery the first thing Logan wanted when he awoke was his little brother. The nurses helped us take care of Peyton when we were there so we could comfort Logan through his pain. As soon as Logan enters the Cancer/Hemoc floor he is swarmed by the nurses giving him hugs. 8+ months ago I did not know where Children's Hospital was...I have been in Puyallup all of my life. Now I can drive to Children's in my sleep. Children's Hospital is now our home away from home and the staff there makes us feel extremely welcome. There is no place in the world we would rather have treatment done. Thank You nurses and doctors that have impacted my son's and my life. You have made some real hard times better. You all are truly amazing!"

Ben

It was August 2006 and Ben Thompson, then 7, was on the home stretch of baseball season and looking toward the start of a new school year. About five monthsbefore, Ben's mom, had started a job as a family service representative at the Children's regional clinic in their hometown of Federal Way, Washington. All was well in the Thompson household, except for one issue: Ben was limping and Grandma's gut told her that something was very wrong. Ben's mom was sure he had pulled a groin muscle and that his grandmother was overreacting.

A trip to their local pediatrician revealed nothing, and Ben wasn't in any pain. Yet, Grandma wouldn't rest. She brought it up so much, that Ben's mom finally made an appointment in the Federal Way clinic just to put her mind at ease. Dr. Goldberg knew right away what might be wrong and he ordered an X-ray. Sure enough, the film showed that a large benign bone cyst was eating its way through Ben's right femur near his hip. The femur was already starting to fracture, so Ben spent his days in a wheelchair prior to surgery so his leg wouldn't break. During that time, Children's Department of Orthopedics in Seattle seamlessly coordinated all of Ben's surgical care. On the day of surgery, doctors, removed the cyst and performed a bone transplant to fill the void in Ben's femur. After being discharged from the hospital, Ben had his follow-up care at the Children's Federal Way clinic - just minutes from home.

As for Ben, he's back out on the sports fields and takes special pleasure in occasionally reminding his mom, "You were wrong and grandma was right!"

Leo

Five days before Leo was born, an arachnoid cyst was detected in his brain. It was a pocket of fluid that doctors agreed would probably never have any effect on him. Nonetheless, his parents were referred to Dr. Browd in neurosurgery for monitoring. The first time Leo's family came to Children's, they knew they had made the right decision. They described it as a warm, family-friendly environment -- and said they felt lucky to have the hospital available for Leo's care. Leo's mom adds that Dr. Browd was wonderful; he answered their endless questions and instilled much-needed confidence in them. He told them what to watch for, in terms of symptoms that would appear if the cyst turned out to be problematic. That guidance turned out to be critical, because it prompted his parents to initiate another visit a few months later. Their worst fears were realized: Leo's cyst had grown, and after another three months, it had grown again. Dr. Browd said that Leo needed surgery to deflate the cyst and reduce the pressure in his brain.

At six months of age, Leo's parents brought their baby in for what they describe as, "the longest week of our lives". Leo came through surgery and spent time in intensive care and the post-surgery floor. The procedure was a success! Leo is now four, and his brain has filled the space where the cyst once grew. Leo's mom and dad say they know with certainty that their son received the best care available, and his health proves it every day!

Jake

In February 2006 when Jake was almost 6 years old, while playing basketball he was pushed from behind and he hit his mouth on the base of the portable basketball hoop. What started out being a fat lip, became Necrotizing Fasciitis (the flesh eating bacteria) or also known as Strep A.

The infection quickly spread and the antibiotics Jake was given weren't enough to stop the infection. It was like chasing a wild fire trying to stop it. Jake went to the hyper baric chamber at Virginia Mason Hospital on a daily basis for 2 weeks as well as having daily surgeries at Seattle Children's Hospital. The surgeries were needed to remove the infected skin and tissue from his head, neck face and chest.

It was touch and go for several days and finally the surgeons were able to stop the disease. Jake spent 9 weeks at Seattle Children's. He underwent many surgeries to help stop the infection and has since had several surgeries to help reconstruct his face including scar revision which helps thin the scar tissue, cheek reconstruction and eyelid reconstruction. He has also received Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Jake has gone through 29 surgeries since his accident and he remains a wonderful hopeful and inspiring boy. He will continue to have reconstruction and revision surgeries into his early teenage years.

Keilana

In 2001, when Keilana was 9 months old, her anxious parents rushed her to Seattle Children's Emergency Department because she was vomiting and so lethargic she was hard to wake. While waiting to be seen, Keilana's parents, Kris and Holly, felt a bulge on her head. They knew something could be seriously wrong.

A CT scan confirmed every parent's worst fears. It was cancer, a rare brain tumor called a primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) that had also spread to her spine. The odds were not in her favor. She needed expert treatment right away, starting with a shunt to ease the pressure on her brain.

Keilana was in the right place. Seattle Children's is a national leader in treating even the most complex and rare forms of pediatric cancer. The hospital's survival rate for all types of childhood cancer combined is higher than the national average.

Keilana spent much of the next two years at Children's battling the cancer through three rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of targeted radiation and three stem cell transplants. Her winning spirit never gave up.

Gradually, Keilana's cancer went into remission. But the cancer and side effects from her chemotherapy and radiation treatments were severe, causing life-threatening infections in her lungs and knee and many ongoing complications.

She requires care from multiple Children's specialty areas — from ophthalmology to hematology/oncology and many others — as teams of experts work to treat problems with her vision, growth, curvature in her spine, an overbite and possible damage to her reproductive system.

Despite these obstacles, Keilana is now a blissful 9-year-old who loves dancing and strumming her guitar. She takes part in Seattle Children's long-term program for cancer survivors, After Cancer Care Ends Survivorship Starts (ACCESS), and will continue to receive follow-up care at Children's her entire childhood.

Even with all that she went through — and continues to face — Keilana still gets excited going to Children's. Parents Kris and Holly share that their entire family associates the hospital with positive experiences and can't help but think 'This is the place that helped save her. We feel we got the best possible care.'

Keilana is full of joy and hope and loves connecting with people. She lives each day with a spirit that inspires others. In many ways, Keilana has become a teacher to everyone around her about embracing life with joy, even during the worst of circumstances.

Bella

Take one look at 8-year-old Bella and the first thing you'll notice is her bright red hair. Soon you'll see her personality is just as vibrant. Bella is an outgoing child with an artistic flair and active imagination. She's also wise beyond her years, the result of a lifetime of medical challenges.

Bella was born with fibular hemimelia, meaning she has no fibula bone in her left leg. She has just four toes and her left foot and knee weren't formed correctly. Without treatment, Bella's left leg would grow to only half the length of her right. Her family faced two options: amputate the affected leg in preparation for a prosthetic, or lengthen the leg through a series of treatments and surgeries. They chose the second option, and thus began Bella's relationship with the caregivers at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Bella understands she's different, but also understands there are others who face even greater challenges. That's what makes her so compassionate and accepting. She was taught never to stare at others who are different but instead ask questions. This has led to open dialogue and questions about her differences, questions she easily answers. Whatever comes her way, Bella is determined to triumph over her disability and live a happy, imaginative life.

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