‘You Are in the Best Hospital Possible’

By Patrick McGee

Katlin Muñoz’s daughter has a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia so rare, so tough on the immune system, she felt that even other mothers with children fighting cancer could not fully understand what she was going through.

On Facebook, she found a mother with a daughter who had the same genetic mutation. They lived just one town over. Mrs. Muñoz spoke to the other mom, Jennifer Rodolph, on the phone and learned that her daughter was also a patient at Children’s Health.

Mrs. Rodolph remembers the call.

“Right away I told her two things: I know what you’re going through, and you are in the best hospital possible,” Mrs. Rodolph said.

Mrs. Muñoz works as a pediatric nurse in home health care so when her daughter had persistent fever, joint pain and an ear infection, she suspected leukemia.

“I took her to the doctor thinking I was just being paranoid, but the labs came back and the doctor called us back that day and said, ‘You need to take her to the ER,’ ” she said. “I think I was in shock for a month. It was like it wasn’t real.”

Sofia, now 6-years-old and in first grade, had to be hospitalized for the first 28 days of her chemotherapy. After just 20 minutes of being at home she developed a fever. This was a risk factor so she had to return to the hospital for another three weeks.

Her mother said Sofia went to the playroom every time it was open and looked for her favorite child life specialist.

Earlier this year, Sofia’s immunity dropped to zero and she went into isolation, staying in the same hospital room for two and a half weeks.

“It would be so much harder if she was upset about being in isolation, but it doesn’t really seem to bother her,” Mrs. Muñoz said as Sofia played with her younger sister, Ramona. “Children’s really works hard to make sure that the kids are entertained. Everything that she could possibly want they just bring it to her.”

Sofia had to give up gymnastics because her blood platelets were low and there was a risk of bleeding, but she embraced activities at the hospital; Legos, arts and crafts, Disney movies and music therapy.

“She’s just been really resilient. I think kids are just better at this stuff than we are,” Mrs. Muñoz said. “We try to take it day by day. If I think of it in the big grand scheme of things, it’s just overwhelming.”

That approach and Sofia’s cheerful resilience worked. She was eventually released from isolation and able to go to summer camp.


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