Our beautiful daughter Stella was born on a Tuesday in April. As second time parents, we were excited and anxious about our growing family. While we were pregnant, Scott and I referred to our little baby as "Olive" and we couldn't wait to meet her.
Stella came into the world a happy and pretty easy baby. We were a little more prepared the second time around. We were pros at diaper changes, were used to the late nights and early mornings and the spit ups did not scare us.
Stella was thriving. We often joked she was the happiest member of our family, as she has a contagious smile and great disposition. Things changed over the summer a few months after Stella was born. She became very sick and we were told what you never want to hear as parents - Stella was "sick" sick.
Stella was diagnosed with a very rare form of blood cancer. As soon as we got the diagnosis, Stella's grandmother and aunt (both pediatricians) said the same thing: don't worry, Stella is so strong, whatever happens we will get through it together, AND we will call Dr. Weinblatt and Dr. Scimeca at the Cancer Center for Kids - they are the best!
Stella's grandmother knew Dr. Weinblatt and Dr. Scimeca from the good old days when she was a resident at North Shore Hospital. Dr. Weinblatt was the attending physician and Dr. Scimeca was two years ahead of my mom. Stella's aunt also knew Drs. Weinblatt and Scimeca from her time as a resident at North Shore Hospital. Unfortunately, they had sent patients to their practice in the past. Stella's grandmother never imagined that she would have to call Dr. Weinblatt and Dr. Scimeca because her own granddaughter was sick.
We learned Stella's illness was congenital - she was born with it but the cancer did not start to manifest with symptoms until she was three months old.
Stella had surgery at Winthrop on a Monday in August. Her diagnosis was reconfirmed via a lymph node biopsy and the surgeon placed a mediport in her chest for chemo. The next day, Stella underwent additional extensive testing and received her first chemo treatment. The doctor told us Stella would be getting chemo on a weekly basis at the Cancer Center for Kids.
We did not really know what to expect, but we quickly learned how lucky we were to have a great team at the Cancer Center for Kids. The staff, nurses and doctors are incredible. From the beginning, our experience has been filled with kindness, compassion and a sincere in-it-together attitude. Everyone feels our ups and downs. Good numbers, bad numbers, weight gains and losses, long appointments that go into the evening. When Stella needed an unexpected blood transfusion, Dr. Scimeca went to get the blood from the blood bank himself.
The team at the Cancer Center for Kids is great. Everyone wants to know what they can do to help. Stella flashes her favorite nurse Colleen a big smile and even "helps" her access her port by grabbing all of the tubing. The musical therapist Glenn learned our favorite song - "ohhh child things are gonna get easier" to sing to Stella, and Brianne the psychologist helped us navigate the impact of the illness on all of us, including Stella's big sister.
Everyone knows Stella and shares in our joy as Stella is thriving again under their care. The Cancer Center for Kids staff gives Stella a big welcome and marvels at how strong and tough she is when we arrive for chemo every week. Everyone knows how to get that amazing smile out of our girl and we can honestly say that the entire practice takes such good care of us. Part of that care experience is making sure that all babies, young children and their families are made to feel as happy and comfortable as possible during the many hours spent at long appointments for treatment and follow-up. That is why we are raising money to support The Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop.
So what can we do to support this great practice? We want to help provide for basic things like bouncy seats, pack-and-plays and toys, meals for unexpected long visits, gas and super market gift cards - all things that make a big difference when a child is sick. Yet these are the kinds of things that really help the youngest of patients pass the time in a way that brings them comfort and smiles, and in turn, makes things just a little easier for their parents and caregivers.
We hope you can join us for this wonderful day to honor Stella’s progress and to support the outstanding care she has been receiving.
Becky and Scott