Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Holidays from OncoGirl!

Cleared a bone scan, drafted a pediatric cancer PSA for Mark Herzlich, and added a swimming stroke.

Happy Holidays from OncoGirl!

Butterfly training.
Butterfly training.

Many things have happened since my last update. I have been training hard at swim practice and gone to different doctors’ appointments at CHOP. I had a bit of a scare a few weeks ago when I was having back pain for several weeks. My parents told Dr. Dormans about this at my check up and he ordered a full body bone scan. I remember getting one of those when I was first diagnosed so I was pretty scared. A few days later, I had my bone scan and all is clear. My doctors think this is more due to training hard and my back does feel better now that I am training harder on a regular basis. You might think that a bone scan is kind of extreme to get to the bottom of back pain but after having Ewings, you can’t be too careful.

I have entered the 8th grade and will be graduating Middle School this year. My Make-A-Wish is getting closer to being granted. My wish was to have a public service announcement, with Mark Herzlich of the New York Giants, about raising awareness for pediatric cancer. We went over the first draft of the script with representatives from the Make-A-Wish chapter for New Jersey and the Script has been “Rachel-approved.” It will now be sent to Mark and the Giants for their approval.

As many of you know, I am a competitive swimmer. Training has been getting pretty hard over the past few weeks and I can definitely feel it afterwards. I have been introduced to new events this year such as the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, and the 200 backstroke (which I will be swimming in a few weeks). Dr. Dormans has now allowed me to swim Breaststroke. This has been such great news to me because now I can swim all four strokes.

For those that celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas – and have a safe and healthy New Year!

I am so excited to be on winter break and out of school. Most of the break I plan on hanging out at home, and going to swim practice. For Christmas, what I really want is a cure for cancer. Until that happens, I’m going to keep working to raise awareness and funding for research.

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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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