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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Patient Stories

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

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.


A Big Win Over Pediatric Leukemia: CAR T-cell Therapy

Sam Tingalia battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia for several years, enduring many rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant that brought short remissions, but failed to eliminate the cancer. Today, Sam's future looks bright thanks to CAR T-cell therapy, a revoluntionary new immunotherapy treatment for advanced blood cancers. Now, Sam is studying journalism in college, with the hope of becoming a sports broadcaster. 

Mya gives a thumbs-up during the taping of a radio ad for Comer Children's Hospital

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 checks in with Caitlin Beaudoin, APN, during a routine check-up.

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.


The only sign that 2-year-old Maggie Leander ever had cancer is a tiny dot—a radiation tattoo—on her belly.

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 and Susan Cohn, MD

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.


A little boy gets his groove back after cancer treatment at Comer Children's Hospital

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 in Child Life playroom

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

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

Susan Cohn, MD, with patient Ryan Bendoff

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.