Thursday, December 25, 2014

Onco Girl gets the all clear!

Hello all! I know it has been way too long since my last blog post so I have a lot to catch you up on. There has been a fair amount of excitement since my last post so I’ll stick to the high points.

Onco Girl gets the all clear!

Hello all! I know it has been way too long since my last blog post so I have a lot to catch you up on.  There has been a fair amount of excitement since my last post so I’ll stick to the high points.

In May I traveled to Cincinnati with my parents and my swim coach to try to qualify as a disabled athlete.  The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) sanctioned a swim meet at the University of Cincinnati where they had evaluators from the International Olympic Committee that would have me do several tests on things like strength and mobility to determine if I am “disabled enough” to compete in IPC events.  I wanted to try this path because I have trouble competing with my peers because my surgery left my right leg much weaker than my left.  If I qualify and continue to get faster, I would really like to swim in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil.  The evaluation was on a Friday and the swim meet was on Saturday and Sunday.  No matter what the results of my evaluation, I could still compete in the meet.  As it turns out, I would have needed 15 deficit points on my evaluation to be minimally qualified as a disabled athlete.  My evaluation resulted in 13 points, two points short of being classified as disabled.  My dad and my coach looked a little surprised when the evaluator told us the news.  I on the other hand, am OK with this.  Because the score was so close, I can be re-evaluated prior to another meet later this year.  The swim meet was very cool.  There were Paralympians there and in one of my races (200 Breaststroke), a woman two lanes over set an IPC world record.  It was very exciting.  I worked really hard to get ready for this meet and I swam my best times in nearly every event that I swam in. It was an amazing event and it was great to see so many people overcome their disability and do what they love.

This was the end of the school year, but not just any school year. This was the end of my 8th grade year. That’s right, next year I will be attending high school. Our Graduation was something anxiously awaited, but also dreaded. Many of my class mates couldn’t wait for the school year to be over, but with the end of the year came the final moments that we could be together as a class. The graduation ceremony however, was wonderful. It was full of laughter, smiles, and great dancing; but mostly tears. I will even admit that I cried a few times, but we all had a great time. The after party was pretty funny too. Some of us are going to the same high school (Saint John Vianni) others are going their separate ways. But one thing is for sure, that we are a family and once a Mother Teresa hawk, always a hawk. 

As all of you probably know, Hurricane Sandy basically decimated the Jersey Shore. Many of you might have experienced it first hand. I remember our house didn’t have power for 11 days but we made out better than most. Many people’s houses were flooded, some were even completely washed away. But now, eight months later, I have noticed most things are back to normal in my town. Many businesses are back and most of the residents are back in their homes… But still not all.  I ask that you please say an extra prayer for those folks to get back in their homes.

On a final happy note, I just had scans and I’m all clear!  I have grown nearly three inches since my surgery and my legs are pretty much exactly even thanks to the great mind and hands of Dr. Dormans.  I’m now officially taller than my mom!  I am so blessed to have the team at CHOP supporting me.


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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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