Monday, February 8, 2016

These crutches were made for walking

Yesterday my parents took me to CHOP to meet with Dr. Dormans for a follow-up visit. It's been three weeks now since my surgery and Dr. Dormans wanted to check on my incision, see how I'm getting around, and maybe take off a piece of this stupid brace.

These crutches were made for walking

Kurt Kovachs

Yesterday my parents took me to CHOP to meet with Dr. Dormans for a follow-up visit. It's been three weeks now since my surgery and Dr. Dormans  wanted to check on my incision, see how I’m getting around, and maybe take off a piece of this stupid brace.

Dr. Dormans was really happy to see me.  He said my incision is healing nicely and he was glad to hear that I’m not having any pain, and I haven’t needed any pain medication since before I left CHOP to go home 10 days ago.

He told me to start using crutches instead of a walker because I will be able to get around better and it will help to build strength in my right leg. He told me that I can put up to 50 pounds of pressure on my right foot now -- more than just a toe touch for balance. Another nice surprise was when Dr. Dormans said that the bottom part of my brace, the piece between my right knee and ankle, could come off. This will help me extend my right leg. The brace is heavy and the hinge is quite stiff. Without the bottom of the brace,  it will be easier to use crutches, and get in and out of the car.

While I was in the office to see Dr. Dormans, my friend Lilly and her mom came in.  Lilly is also a Ewings survivor; Dr. Dormans operated on her about a year and a half ago.  She was there for a follow-up so Dr. Dormans could see how she was doing.  I really like seeing other children who have survived Ewings or other cancers.  It helps me stay positive and it reminds me that I’m going to kick cancer’s butt.

After meeting with Dr. Dormans, we went over to the oncology clinic for a blood draw to check my blood cell counts. I was way neutropenic last week. Neutrophils are white blood cells that help fight infection, and my absolute neutrophil count was just about zero. My oncologist, Dr. Balamuth, wanted to make sure I was going to be up for chemotherapy this coming Friday. While we were waiting for the lab work to get my CBCs (Complete Blood Counts), Dr. Balamuth showed my parents and me pictures of the bone and tissue that Dr. Dormans removed during my surgery. I could see the part of my femur that Dr. Dormans had to take out, and the tissue from around the incision from my biopsy.  Dr. Balamuth showed pictures from pathology that showed how much the chemotherapy had shrunk my tumor.  It was so cool!  I can see now why my surgery took as long as it did.  

The lab results came in a few minutes later and my counts are all good.  Dr. Balamuth said I’m good for chemo this Friday.

On a final note, Coco seems to like the fact that part of my brace came off. There’s still a bar that keeps my knees apart, but now my lower legs don’t have any metal and plastic on them. Coco likes to snuggle up at the end of my bed between my feet to take a nap.  This is kind of nice because she keeps me company and keeps my feet very warm.

Just a few minutes ago, I tried to get up on crutches for the first time.  It hurt a bit at first because my right leg was just hanging. But then I tried again, just touching my right toe on the floor for balance, and it didn’t hurt after that.  It felt good to actually be standing up on my own.  For the first time in a long time, I felt like a normal person.

Click HERE to comment or read comments on the Onco Girl blog. Comments will be moderated.

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
Latest Health Videos
Also on
letter icon Newsletter