This article originally appeared in Star Chronicle, a newsletter published for the Children's Medical Center.
When stars come together, great things happen. Take for instance children who come to the Children's Medical Center for cancer care. A team comes together not only to treat the disease, but also to support the child and family.
Meet Amy Jedrzynski, an active, vibrant child who loves to ride bikes, play and tend to her horses. In April 2003, Amy and her family's life changed forever in the blink of an eye. The 10-year-old went to her pediatrician with a dry cough and stomach pains. After initial tests, she was referred to the Children's Medical Center for a consult with a pediatric oncologist.
A week later, Amy and her parents met Naheed Usmani, MD, who reviewed her tests and felt a lump near her neck. Within a few hours, Amy was having a biopsy and was admitted to begin treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Amy spent the next eight days in the hospital, beginning chemotherapy and radiation therapy to stop the cancer. She had major surgery to remove the lump and to have a central line inserted near her collarbone for administration of her medication. A bone marrow aspiration that involves drilling into several different bones to determine if the cancer spread also was done. Thankfully, it had not spread.
For the next four weekends, Amy would be admitted to the hospital for chemotherapy and could go home during the week. Radiation therapy continued for 32 sessions. Her father, Michael Jedrzynski, said the hardest part was watching her lose her hair. "We were walking down the hall, and she kept handing me clumps of her hair."
According to Marcia Jedrzynski, Amy's mother, it was the staff who helped them hold it all together. "They gave us tools and options, offered us resources before we even knew we needed them, spoke to Amy in ways she would understand, and more importantly, they listened to her," says Ms. Jedrzynski. "It is as if they look through the eyes of a child and, therefore, are able to treat them in a very special way.
"The child life staff was the glue. They took on a role we didn't expect, treating not just Amy, but also our family as a whole. The doctors, the staff in the clinic, the nurses and the secretaries were all wonderful."
The family went through denial, fears and the ‘why us?' stage, but staff members helped each step of the way. According to Amy, "There were a lot of people who helped me get through cancer. My family, teachers and the principal at my school cheered me on. Everyone wrote me cards, and I liked hearing from my class. I still read the cards they sent me."
January 2005 brought good news to Amy and her family. Tests showed that no cancer was present. Today, Amy continues to have periodic check-ups. "I am not afraid of the needles anymore either," she says. "In spite of her illness, Amy came through it," says her mom. "You do with what God has given you and you run with it."