Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Hey, I have hair!

Hello there. It's been way too long since my last post. Getting back into the swing of things has taken up a lot of my "new normal" time. But the most important news is: I have hair!

Hey, I have hair!

Hello there. It’s been way too long since my last post. Getting back into the swing of things has taken up a lot of my “new normal” time. But the most important news is: I have hair!

Going back to school full time this September took some getting used to. It took me until the middle of the summer working with my teachers to finish the sixth grade so I could move along with my friends this year into seventh grade. I really like my teachers and it’s great to be back with my friends at school. Seventh grade is a lot different than sixth grade. There is a lot of homework, but so far so good.

Having a metal prosthetic “bone” in my leg, especially my hip joint, has given me a “new normal” walk. I still have a limp, but Dr. Dormans says that will go away with time as I get stronger. I really can’t run and jump with my friends or play in gym class yet because if I fall, that would be a really dangerous thing right now. Again, as I get stronger with time, this will be less of a problem. A friend of mine who a few years ago had just about the same surgery as mine is actually able to go to gym class now. It just takes time. Thankfully, I seem to have a lot of that now.

Let me tell you about my new hair. I was pretty much used to not having hair while I was getting chemotherapy. At first I was afraid that people would stare at me, so my parents got me a wig to wear if I wanted to. I also have a LOT of hats. When my hair first started to fall out, I asked one of the nurse practitioners at CHOP to get some shears and cut all my hair off. If I was going to be bald through all of this, it was going to be on my terms. I think I only wore my wig two or three times; after that, I pretty much didn’t care what people thought about me being bald. Fortunately, nobody ever gave me a hard time or even really stared. Now that my treatment is over, my hair is starting to grow back. My hair is really soft and all of my friends keep rubbing my head. My parents are ALWAYS rubbing my head and telling me how happy they are for me that my hair is starting to come back. I have eyebrows and eyelashes, too. I’m starting to feel truly normal again.


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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.

Onco Girl
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