December 12-14, 2013

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Tune your radio to 98.7 FM KLUV on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14, and 107.5 FM LaGrande on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12 and 13, to experience the wonder of the holiday season through the Christmas is for Children radiothons. During the three-day live broadcast based inside the hospital, radio personalities conduct personal interviews, share heart-warming patient stories in English and Spanish, and encourage listeners to make donations. Money raised during these events will help the children cared for at Children's Medical Center.

Featured Patient Stories

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Cameron Cooksey, Age 9

Diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Hometown: McKinney

Last year, Cameron and his family were on their annual December vacation when his mom, Stephanie, noticed that he was really tired and had a few bruises on his legs. They had visited a few amusement parks and the beach, so she thought he might have bumped his legs while playing.

When they returned home, she took him to his local pediatrician where tests revealed he might have cancer. Soon, Cameron's diagnosis would be confirmed at Children's Medical Center - he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cameron spent the first month of his treatment at Children's, but is now in the maintenance phase.

One of Cameron's toughest moments was when he lost his hair. When he saw himself in the mirror, he said, "I look like a monster."

Before Cameron returned to school, two Children's child life specialists visited his school and helped his classmates understand cancer in order to help him reintegrate into the school setting.

"Cameron is stronger than I ever imagined," said his mom, Stephanie. "Everything we've been through has taught me to let go of the little things."

Cameron is currently in the fourth grade. He enjoys drawing, reading, playing video games and Pokémon.


Ellie Fields, Age 11

Diagnosis: Acute Pancreatitis

Hometown: Greenville, TX

Ellie started feeling ill three days before her 10th birthday. She had severe stomach pain and was vomiting. Her mom took her to her local hospital, where it was discovered that her pancreas enzymes were off the charts.

Ellie then was brought to Children’s for a gene test, which revealed a gene that is supposed to protect the pancreas from pancreatitis had mutated. She spent more than 50 days at Children’s last year.

Ellie will likely have to deal with acute pancreatitis for the rest of her life. “I’ve been so impressed with Children’s pain management program and child life specialists,” said her mom Tracey. “They brought her gifts and decorated her hospital room on her 10th and 11th birthdays. They bring normalcy to our life and treat the entire family.”

Ellie has four brothers and sisters. She is in the sixth grade this year.


Harlee Hirsch, Age 6 Months

Diagnosis: Imperforate Anus

One-year-old Harlee Hirsch is her dad’s mini-me.

“She has my eyes, but otherwise she looks just like her daddy,” says her mom, Andee Hirsch.

Aaron Hirsch, Harlee’s dad, is thankful for his miracle baby. The wide-eyed girl who constantly smiles nearly lost her life a week after birth. Andee and Aaron brought their newborn home from a local hospital and began their life as a family of three. However, Harlee’s parents noticed that she vomited after every feeding. Then one morning, Harlee wouldn’t wake up.

After rushing to the Emergency Department at Children’s at Legacy, Andee found out that Harlee was born with an imperforate anus - her anus had not developed in utero, and she was in septic shock. Harlee spent two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s in Dallas, where she recovered before pediatric surgeon Dr. David Schindel performed a three-part surgery process to build and repair the anatomy.

Now she is healthy and enjoying the holiday season.


James & Francis Murphy, Age 4 & 8

Diagnosis: Food Allergy

Eight-year-old Francis is allergic to peanuts. He is part of an international peanut patch study through Children’s Medical Center.

James, 4, is allergic to chicken, eggs and fresh raspberries. His parents first noticed an allergic reaction when James threw up after eating a sugar cookie. They brought him to the Food Allergy Center at Children’s to see Dr. Drew Bird for a scratch test and learned he was allergic to chicken and fresh raspberries.

“We don’t go out to eat much, but when we do it has to be a place that’s safe for our boys,” said Stephanie. “I always feel like I’m getting amazing care at Children’s.Everyone in Dr. Bird’s office is wonderful and we’re blessed to have such a wonderful team of people helping keep my kids safe.”


Paige Boutilier, Age 8

Diagnosis: T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Hometown: Flower Mound

Months before Paige was diagnosed, she had a bad ear infection. Her mom noticed her lymph nodes were swollen shortly after she started her antibiotics for the infection. She also sweated profusely while she was sleeping. While riding her tricycle a few weekends later, she complained of difficulty breathing and pain in her chest.

“We went back to the doctor and told them we aren’t leaving until we find out what is wrong with her,” said her mom, Jodie. A chest x-ray was ordered, which revealed that Paige had a tumor in her chest that was covering 90 percent of her chest cavity. It had moved to her esophagus.

On her fourth birthday, Paige came to Children’s for an MRI. The mass in her chest was actually a swollen lymph node. “Paige didn’t know what was going on, so she kept telling Dr. Leavey she thought she had spiders in her chest. He got down on his knees and said, “That’s ok because it’s my job to kill spiders.” And from that moment on, she marched forward and did what she needed to do.” Paige went through the first two years of treatment and thought she was done.

Unfortunately, seven months after she finished treatment, she relapsed with the cancer spreading to her brain and spinal fluid. She had to undergo radiation, which wrapped up this fall.

While at Children’s, Paige enjoyed doing arts and crafts. Before every treatment, her mom had to sing her favorite song to her - “Amazing Grace.”

When Paige relapsed some of her friends started a charity to help pay medical expenses. Since then, they have turned Pennies for Paige into a 501(c)(3) and they’re helping other families who have also been affected by cancer.

Paige enjoys playing with her twin sister, Abigail, playing basketball, drawing, learning new things and singing.


Paxton Yammarino, Age 2

Diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Hometown: McKinney

Paxton was only 18 months old when his whole life changed. Two weeks before his diagnosis, Paxton went to see his doctor for an annual well visit. Everything was normal, but two weeks later his mom noticed little red bumps underneath his skin. She knew that they were petechiae because the family’s dog had petechiae bumps from a heat stroke two weeks earlier.

She took him to his pediatrician where a blood test was done – Paxton had leukemia. He was sent to Children’s Medical Center at Legacy in Plano where they met Dr. Mary Ellen Cavalier. Children’s was home for the next 10 days.

Paxton was in remission by day 8 of his treatment (Oct. 2012) and is now in the maintenance phase of his two-and-a-half years of treatment. Paxton is adjusting well to his new normal. He still comes to Children’s for treatment once a month, has to undergo a spinal tap every three months and takes an oral medication every day.

“I worry less about the things that used to bother me,” said Julie. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t look at Paxton and think he might not be here if it wasn’t for the care he received at Children’s. They gave me back my child.”

“For a long time, I just wished for him to be able to go to the park, again,” said Julie. “I just want Paxton to be happy, healthy and to live a normal life. I know that he will use his testimony to do something great with his life.”


Seth Jones, Age 10 Months

Diagnosis: Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema

Hometown: Duncanville, TX

You could say the Jones family of Duncanville, Texas, likes to live in multiples of five. After five years of trying to conceive a second child, Carrie Jones became pregnant with, not one, but five babies.

The Jones quintuplets were born via Cesarean nearly 28 weeks into Carrie’s pregnancy at St. Paul University Hospital. The five ranged in weight at birth from 1 pound, 12 ounces to 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

The family, which also includes 9-year-old son Isaac, is based out of Papua New Guinea, where Gavin and Carrie do missionary work for Wycliffe Bible Translators.  They traveled to Texas, where Carrie’s parents live, to give birth.

Baby D, Seth, suffered a series of setbacks and was the last baby to return home. Three days after Seth was born he developed pulmonary interstitial emphysema, which almost destroyed his lungs. He was too sick to stay at St. Paul, so he was moved to Children’s Medical Center.

His condition improved dramatically when he arrived at Children’s, but he still had a long road ahead. He spent three months at Children’s before he finally went home. “He’s doing great now,” said Carrie. “He has a little bit of reflux and a G-tube in his abdomen that we use to feed him.”

“Children’s is a very caring place. His nurses and doctors went above and beyond to take care of our whole family. It really feels like Children’s saved his life.”


Sydney, Age 6

Diagnosis: Rhabdomyosarcoma

Hometown: Dallas

Sydney has always been an amazing, compassionate girl who has been able to persevere through anything that life puts in front of her. This was especially evident when Sydney was diagnosed with stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive soft tissue cancer, when she was 3 years old.

Before a family trip to the beach, her mom, Erin, felt a lump in Sydney's left leg. After a week, it hadn’t gone away. So, Erin scheduled an appointment at Sydney’s pediatrician's office, where she learned her daughter had cancer. Sydney was immediately referred to Children’s Medical Center.

Sydney underwent a strict 54-week treatment plan that included chemotherapy every two weeks, radiation and surgery that left her with little to no quadriceps muscle on her left leg. Sydney was blessed to have an incredible team of oncologists, surgeons, nurses and physical therapists through the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s that ultimately saved her life.

Sydney continues to astonish her family and teachers each day and continues her pursuit to become a ballet-loving, rock-climbing surgeon.

“I am so grateful for the care she received,” Erin Mayrell said. “Sydney is so tough. She’s everybody’s hero.”


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