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Patient Stories

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors
Familial Cancer Clinic
Optic Glioma
Stem Cell Transplant
Wilms Tumor

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Daniel Alexander

Experts stunt inoperable brain tumor with innovative treatment plan
On his ninth birthday, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, called an astrocytoma, which was growing at a critical location in his brain. With innovative, team-based care and chemotherapy techniques, the tumor has stopped growing and no longer threatens Daniel's well-being.

John Mordach Jr.

A Marathon Brain Surgery
John Mordach Jr. was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was successfully removed with surgery. The teen's dedication to regaining his strength and balance after surgery inspired his father, John Mordach Sr., to accomplish his goal of completing the Chicago marathon. Mordach's family also made a long-haul commitment to combat brain tumors by establishing a fund to support University of Chicago neurosurgical research.

William Dawes

Custom Treatment for an Unusual Cancer
When William's parents noticed he was stumbling and falling a lot, they brought him to several specialists for MRIs. The scans showed an astrocytoma had invaded William's spinal cord -- a rare location for the most common pediatric brain tumor. Now, a decade after diagnosis, the college freshman is pursuing his dreams as his doctor, Charles Rubin, MD, cheers him on.

Familial Cancer Clinic

Marc Myers

Familial Cancer Clinic Helps Families Make the Most Important Decision
Marc Myers survived a bout with acute lymphoblastic leukemia as a child. But years later, Marc's growth slowed, and he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. However, the decision to treat his deficiency was complicated by a family history of colon cancer. If Marc inherited the cancer mutation, he could not have growth hormone treatment. Dr. Kenan Onel recommended a full assessment at the Familial Cancer Clinic to determine the best options for Marc.


Mya Ludwig

Something to Celebrate
After an urgent call from the pediatrician, Mya's parents brought their four-year-old daughter to Comer Children's Hospital. Here, John Cunningham, MD, determined that she needed a stem cell transplant to cure her of leukemia. Today, Mya has transitioned to the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at Comer Children's. Almost four years to the day after being diagnosed with cancer, Mya and Dr. Cunningham recorded a radio commercial about her successful treatment.

Daniela Lakosilova

Two-in-One Stem Cell Transplant
Daniela Lakosilova was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was 12 years old and underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy -- standard frontline treatment for the disease. When the leukemia recurred during her junior year of high school, Daniela came to Comer Children's Hospital, where John Cunningham, MD, performed an innovative stem cell transplant using cells from a half-matched related donor and well-matched, unrelated umbilical cord blood.

Coleson Arends

A Young Boy Bravely Embarks on a Long Odyssey with Leukemia
Coleson Arends was unexpectedly diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at age 3, but has courageously fought back with the help of his family and medical team. "Coleson's team at the University of Chicago has become our extended family," said Coleson's mom, Chelle. "They know us as people, identify with what we've gone through, and treat Coleson as if he is their only patient."

Atia Lutarewich

Teamwork Lessens Family Leukemia Load
The team approach at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital helped keep Atia Lutarewych's family on an even keel during their daughter's treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). "In the beginning, Atia's diagnosis devastated us and we knew that we couldn't do it alone," Atia's mother, Laura, said. "The staff understood that Steve and I needed support, too. They clearly explained everything and were never condescending with our concerns. They've become a big part of our lives."

Jenna McKeown

Teen Looks to the Future After Bone Marrow Transplant
On October 28, 2009, Jenna McKeown was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia. Her physicians turned to the National Marrow Donor Registry to find a genetically similar unrelated donor, and were fortunate in finding matching donor quickly. Jenna started the high-dose chemo and marrow-transplant regimen. Less than a year later, and 108 days after her transplant, 17-year-old Jenna celebrated her graduation from high school.


Maggie Leander

Family Turns to World-Class Neuroblastoma Team for Expertise, Support
Maggie was just 10 days old when her parents learned that she had neuroblastoma. Her mother, Breanna, was pleased to find Susan Cohn, MD, an internationally recognized neuroblastoma expert -- right here in Illinois. Even with Maggie's cancer now in remission, her parents continue to make the 2-hour drive for follow-up care with Dr. Cohn and her team. "There's no way I'm going anywhere else," Breanna said.

Ellie Van Rossum

When a Penny is More than Lucky
When a CT scan detected an 8 cm mass wrapped around Ellie's spine, the Van Rossums were referred to Dr. Susan Cohn, who diagnosed Ellie with a ganglioneuroblastoma, a part-malignant, part-benign tumor.

Dr. Susan Cohn and Yano Pournaras

Going the Distance for Neuroblastoma Expertise
For Yano Pournaras, age 2-1/2 didn't bring the running and jumping of toddlerhood, but instead brought hip and knee pain, limping and fevers. Initially misdiagnosed, a CT scan accurately detected the cause of Yano's symptoms: a neuroblastoma on his spine. After researching treatment options online, Yano's father decided to travel from South Carolina for Dr. Susan Cohn's neuroblastoma expertise.

Abigail Mendoza

Doing Battle With Cancer … in Preschool
Comer Children's physicians helped develop a new treatment that improves survival rates for children like Abigail. Diagnosed as a preschooler with neuroblastoma, Abigail is now showing no signs of cancer. "She had a miraculous, aggressive treatment plan that literally saved her life," said her mother, Judy Mendoza.

Madison holding a doll

Clinical Trial Helps Girl with Neuroblastoma
A clinical trial enhanced neuroblastoma care for 3-year-old Madison. More than a year after Madison's diagnosis and initial treatment, she is back in school. "We really feel that clinical trials represent state-of-the art therapy for children with cancer," says neuroblastoma expert Susan Cohn, MD, who helped design the clinical trial.

Optic Glioma

Jenna Jongsma

Team Approach, Early Intervention Save Girl's Sight
In 2002, Jenna Jongsma was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that can affect vision, growth and development. In Jenna's case, the condition also led to the development of an optic glioma, a tumor that threatened her sight. Comer Children's specialists in oncology and neurology worked together with Jenna's community physicians to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.


Jake Boddie

Gotta Dance
Jacob "Jake" Boddie was an energetic two-year-old who loved to dance. When he suddenly grew agitated and developed a limp, Jake's parents brought him to Comer Children's Hospital. An ultrasound and biopsy revealed a sarcoma (malignant tumor) on the boy's pelvis. Jake underwent chemotherapy, radiation and three major surgeries -- never losing his urge to dance. Today, the little boy has his groove back, boogying with his care team when he comes to the hospital for follow-up treatment.

Matthew Sanders

Better Days After Bone Cancer
When high school senior Matthew Sanders was undergoing therapy for osteosarcoma at Comer Children’s, he thought he was too old to spend time in the playroom. Eventually he found that the playroom’s teen area offered a great break during his lengthy hospitalization. Now that he has finished treatment, Sanders volunteers in the playroom two days a week so he can "stay in touch with Comer."

Bria Carter

Bria Bounces Back
At age 15, Bria Carter was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer affecting 400 to 500 youth in the United States per year. After three months of chemotherapy, Bria's tumor remained the same size. But Bria was determined. To cure her cancer, physicians at the University of Chicago amputated the lower half of her leg. "Cancer is something that happened to me, it doesn't have to define me," Bria said.

Stem Cell Transplant

Cameron Dykstra

Innovations in Stem Cell Transplant Allow Parent to Become Donor
Cameron Dykstra was born without an immune system and was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (SCID), a condition commonly known as "bubble boy disease." His father's donated blood stem cells -- purified using a novel technique -- were transplanted to Cameron where they took over the task of defending the infant's body against harmful bacteria and viruses.

Wilms Tumor

Wilms Tumor

A Wilms Tumor Success Story
Ryan Bendoff was flown to the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital when a scan revealed a grapefruit-sized tumor in his right kidney. After being treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for the Wilms tumor, the first grader is back to living a normal life again. "He's enjoying every minute of it," says his mom.

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