Stories about: Diseases & Conditions

Banding together: Finding support for pediatric stroke

stroke recovery
Surrounded by his family, Patrick walks unassisted after recovering from a stroke.

Cristina Murphy is the daughter of a cardiologist, but even she wasn’t aware that stroke could occur in children — until her young son Patrick had one. Her vibrant little boy was just a toddler when he was rushed to the emergency room for what his parents and their pediatrician initially assumed was a severe stomach bug. But further testing confirmed the unimaginable: Patrick had experienced a rare bilateral cerebellar stroke.

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‘Not to be stopped’: Dorothy’s story

recovery from short bowel

Dorothy Hardy “doesn’t walk, she dances,” says her mom, Carrie. “She just waltzes around the house, singing songs she makes up. She’s not to be stopped.” In fact, when the little girl injured her leg at the playground, she taught herself to dance while wearing a cast. It’s a resilient, determined attitude that Dorothy — now two-and-a-half years old — has had since she was diagnosed with jejunal atresia as a newborn.

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Pediatric leukemia: A guide for parents

8-year-old leukemia patient visits with her doctor
Dr. Leslie Lehmann and pediatric leukemia patient, Emma Duffin

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in early forms of white blood cells. White blood cells are cells that typically fight infections. Early forms of white blood cells live in bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside most bones in the body. When early white blood cells become leukemia (or cancer cells), they grow out of control and crowd out the normal young blood cells in the bone marrow. From there, the cancerous cells spread through the blood to other parts of the body.

Leukemia is either fast growing (acute) or slower growing (chronic). Almost all leukemia in children is acute. From most common to most rare, the four types of pediatric leukemia are: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). ALL affects white blood cells called lymphocytes, whereas AML affects white blood cells called myeloid cells.

How is leukemia diagnosed?

The first test usually performed to diagnose leukemia is a complete blood count (CBC) to determine how many types of each blood cell are in the blood. Children with leukemia often do not have normal numbers of red blood cells and platelets.

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When it comes to autism, it takes a village

Emmett, who has autism, peeks out from behind a fence. It’s Autism Awareness Month, and as the mom of a significantly autistic child, Emmett, age 7, it’s a time to reflect on my child’s journey from non-verbal to moderately conversant, reading, doing simple math and enjoying so much of his life.

It started when Emmett was 2 ½,  with Dr. Leonard Rappaport, a developmental pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital. I was extraordinarily fortunate to find “Dr. Lenny,” as my son calls him. He entered our lives and helped me transition from terrified, lost parent to empowered autism community member and peer leader. He gave me an autism vocabulary and believed in me as a parent before I was prepared to believe in myself. Dr. Rappaport truly gave me the greatest gift: a starting point for my child’s journey. He told me he believed in me and he believed in my son. Leonard Rappaport changed me as parent and as a human, as I learned to move forward and take a lead in guiding others. Helping other parents in the autism community is now my passion.

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