Saturday, November 29, 2014
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Learning how to walk the right way

I've been back at CHOP for round eight of chemotherapy. This is a round that takes five days in the hospital, so it can get really boring.

Learning how to walk the right way

I’ve been back at CHOP for round eight of chemotherapy. This is a round that takes five days in the hospital, so it can get really boring.

When I first came in, nurse Jamie was on the job and got my intravenous port accessed on the first try (still batting 1000). Then Dr. Erlich and Dr. Balamuth from Oncology gave me the once over and checked out a rash that I got on my legs from my brace. They gave me some medication and a cream to put on it and it’s already getting better.

One of my biggest problems has been getting to a bathroom with my walker and this awkward leg brace. I was still using a wide wheel chair most of the time and a bed-side commode. But after I was admitted and was able to get into a bed in the Oncology Unit, things started going much more smoothly.

On Saturday, Miss Stacy, a physical therapist, came to my room to work with me. I told her that I was having trouble walking with my walker and she asked me to show her how I was using it. Miss Stacy saw that I was kind of skipping on my left leg while my right leg, the one with the prosthesis, just sort of hung there. This made my right hip hurt pretty bad. Miss Stacy looked at my file and saw that I can put 50 pounds of pressure on my right leg, so she told me to start putting weight on my right foot as I was walking with my walker. This worked great! No pain and I’m on the move. My Mom started to cry when she saw me walking normally with my walker and not having any pain. I was still under house arrest while I was waiting for the results of my lab tests; otherwise, I would have been out the door and down the hall. The best thing about walking is that now I can get to a normal bathroom. Waa Hoo! My right leg is pretty sore from working it, but it’s really good to be getting around.

I have been craving bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. My dad got one from the sandwich shop across the street. It was sooooooo good. I had one for lunch and dinner on Friday, and I asked my Dad to get me one again for lunch on Saturday. Yum! I also had steak for dinner from a restaurant around the corner. One of these days I have to try a cheesesteak. I hear that you can get really good ones here in Philly.

Today, Tuesday, we’re going home. The nurses are moving up the time they give me my chemo so we don’t have to leave too late. On these five-day rounds, I get chemo each day, then I have to get another medicine for four hours or for eight hours. I can’t wait to get home to see Coco and my friends.

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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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