Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Best Gift of All for the Holidays

I hope everyone reading this is having a nice holiday season. We had a wonderful Christmas in my house this year. Santa was good to me and even Coco (my dog) was happy with her presents, though she destroyed a few of them in minutes.

Best Gift of All for the Holidays

I hope everyone reading this is having a nice holiday season. We had a wonderful Christmas in my house this year. Santa was good to me and even Coco (my dog) was happy with her presents, though she destroyed a few of them in minutes.

I had a pretty big day this past Tuesday—a hospital visit for my three-month scans after finishing chemotherapy. My appointment was at 10:30 in the morning so we didn’t need to go the night before. It was pretty easy to leave in the morning at a reasonable hour and get to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in plenty of time to make my appointment (I’m really not a morning person). I asked my Dad to stay home because he is still feeling a little under the weather, and I didn’t want him to be near any of the kids with compromised immune systems. He was pretty disappointed—we usually go to all of my appointments in force as a family—but he understood. The scans went off without a hitch, right on time, and then we were off to get an x-ray of my femur and prosthesis.

Not long after getting my scans, my mom’s cell phone rang. It was my oncologist, Dr. Naomi Balamuth with wonderful news; She said I am all clear and that my scans were "beautiful." This is such a relief and a great Christmas present.

Comment from Mom: For those of you reading this that are considering a course of action for your child's treatment, Rachel’s news today is an illustration of world-class treatment. Not only were we able to get this incredibly great news, but we got it with a personal phone call from Rachel's oncologist during her crazy-busy day. Dr. Balamuth knows the anxiety associated with waiting for the results of these scans. She knew Rachel was in for scans today, so she made it her business to immediately get the results and convey those results to us without delay. Another example of the world-class heath care we’ve experienced at CHOP.

 


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About this blog
Rachel Kovach, 12, is a seventh-grader at Mother Theresa Regional School in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. She lives in Highlands, N.J., near the Sandy Hook national seashore, with her parents, Mari and Kurt Kovach.

Since first grade, Rachel has been swimming with the Monmouth Barracudas, a year-round competitive United States Swimming Club program. She hopes to continue competitive swimming after her cancer treatment; if not, she envisions coaching someday or maybe a career in medicine. Figure skating and jazz dancing have been big parts of her life. One of the things she hates about being in the hospital is missing her dog Cocoa and her many friends.

Rachel's doctors

These are the key physicians overseeing Rachel’s care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

Naomi BalamuthNaomi Balamuth, pediatric oncologist, specializes in treating pediatric sarcomas, a subset of solid tumors.

 

 

Richard B. WomerRichard B. Womer, pediatric oncologist, led studies of the latest chemotherapy treatment protocol for Ewing’s sarcoma.

 

 

John P. DormansJohn P. Dormans, M.D., chief of orthopaedic surgery, is an international expert in the surgical treatment of musculoskeletal tumors.

 

Timeline of Rachel Kovach’s Treatment

Dec. 3, 2010: Pain in Rachel's right knee is initially diagnosed as tendinitis.

Jan. 20: An MRI reveals a tumor in right leg.

Jan 24: Rachel sees John Dormans, chief of orthopedic surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Jan. 27: A biopsy confirms Ewing's sarcoma.

February to mid-April: Regimens of chemotherapy alternate every other week. The three-drug regimen is given over two days; the two-drug regimen is given over five days.

May 3: Surgery replaces most of the right femur with a prosthesis.

May 5: A Children's Hospital team will help Rachel get out of bed.

May 10 to September: Alternating regimens of chemotherapy are to resume.

Around May 10: Physical therapy will begin in the hospital and continue for at least several months after Rachel goes home.

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