Monday, May 25, 2015

Onco girl won't need radiation therapy (Hurrah!)

My name is Naomi Balamuth and I am one of Rachel's oncologists at CHOP. Rachel and her family asked me to update you on her treatment.

Onco girl won't need radiation therapy (Hurrah!)

My name is Naomi Balamuth and I am one of Rachel’s oncologists at CHOP. Rachel and her family asked me to update you on her treatment.

As you all know, Rachel had her surgery on May 3rd, 2011. We recently were able to review the pathology slides, and are very happy with the results. When we looked at Rachel’s tumor under the microscope, we saw that the large majority of her tumor was dead. This means her tumor responded very well to the chemotherapy. In addition, Dr. Dormans (Rachel’s surgeon) was able to achieve "negative margins" -- all the tumor was removed with a rim of healthy tissue around it. That's also great news because it means Rachel will not need radiation therapy. Radiation can have significant long-term side effects for our cancer survivors, so we were very happy to cross that off the list of treatments for Rachel!

Moving forward, she will continue to receive the same chemotherapy that she got prior to her surgery. She will be admitted to the hospital every 2 weeks. So far, she has tolerated the treatment beautifully. Her smile and positive attitude are remarkable! It is a true pleasure seeing her in clinic each week. We have every expectation that she will continue to do well, and we hope for a bright future, full of time with family, swim meets, and pillow fights!


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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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