Stories about: Diseases & Conditions

Spencer gets back on the court after cancer

Spencer is back on the court after cancer.

For much of his 17 years, Spencer Riley has lived to play basketball. This winter, his favorite sport helped the teenager get back to life.

Riley was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2016 and treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center that summer. He underwent an intensive three-month treatment cycle: one week of inpatient chemotherapy at Boston Children’s Hospital, two weeks of recuperation at home, and then back to Boston Children’s.

While occasionally well enough to go on family outings, he was still too weak to shoot or even dribble a basketball.

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The show must go on: Teen overcomes motility disorder

teen recovers from motility disorder

In October 2016, we were spending a weekend in Minnesota for a family wedding. Little did we know we would be there longer than expected!

During the rehearsal dinner, my 16-year-old daughter Sophie said she wasn’t hungry — a surprise because it had been a long day of travel and the rest of us were starving. She managed to force down some food but seemed lethargic and not herself. She later confessed that she had been feeling sick all day.

Back at the hotel, I had just drifted off to sleep when my other daughter called me from their room. She said Sophie was sick and crying. I ran down the hall and when I saw her, I just knew something was wrong. My instincts said get to the ER right away.

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Fighting for Kennedy: Coping with moyamoya disease

Girl with moyamoya disease is thriving.

If you happen to be waiting in line at the supermarket with Kennedy Grace Cheshire, you’ll likely leave the store with a whole new group of friends. This outgoing five-year-old can’t resist introducing herself to her fellow shoppers — and then introducing them to each other. “She’s never met a stranger,” says her mother, Amber.

Kennedy, who lives in Texas, brought that playful attitude to the East Coast last year when she and her family arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

At age two, she had been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), a genetic condition that causes symptoms including benign tumors that form from nerve tissue. The diagnosis wasn’t surprising: Kennedy’s father Robert has NF1, too. But a couple of years later, an MRI scan brought a shock.

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Paying it 26.2 miles forward

Tom Williams, a liver transplant recipient, crosses the Boston Marathon finish lineThere is a spot on the Boston Marathon route called “The Liver Mile.” It’s where the grind begins, where the storied course starts to tests runners and where legs often weary from pounding 16.8 miles of punishing roads.

Yet, it’s also where 21-year-old Tom Williams, a liver transplant recipient from Dracut, Massachusetts, first fell in love with the idea of running the Boston Marathon.

“I wasn’t thinking about the difficulty of it,” he says. “I was just thinking, I want to run for other people who are sick.”

Located in front of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, “The Liver Mile” is where volunteers hand out water and gather in support of the Run for Research team, which raises money to benefit the American Liver Foundation. For years, while someone else ran for him as part of the patient-partner program, Tom was a spectator on the sidelines.

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