Anna Protsiou was five in 2002 when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. She remembers pain and the fruit-scented anesthesia masks that led her to stop eating cherries. She remembers hospital arts and crafts projects. What she barely remembers is the pediatric oncologist who saved her life.
She was a young girl then who didn’t speak English, moving with her family from their native Greece to be treated for a year at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Now, after moving with her family to Canada in 2014, she’s a 20-year-old dance student at the School of Contemporary Dancers/ University of Winnipeg and a contortionist with a rubber-band body. She’s ready to claim her history as her own, ready to move beyond photographs of the doctor and memories recounted by her parents, ready to take charge of her own health care.
Before he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2014 at the age of 11, Noah Smith was a veteran of the children’s theater stage. The suburban Boston boy had been cast in ensembles. He’d played Kurt Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.”
Little did Noah know that he would soon star in a video designed to allay the fears of children facing radioactive medication delivered intravenously in a lead-lined room where they’d live, under restrictions, for a week. After he received the medication, his parents would only be able to visit him one at a time, standing behind a lead shield and unable to touch him. Nurses would limit their time in his room, entering briefly to check vital signs. Parents and nurses alike would wear badges to monitor their exposure to the radioactive child in the bed.
Add to this the fact that most children who get the cancer that originates in nerve cells are under 5 and it’s easy to understand the anxiety these young patients and their families might feel anticipating MIBG (metaiodobenzylguanidine) therapy. …
We are honored U.S. News & World Report has named Boston Children’s Hospital the #1 pediatric hospital in the nation. It’s an opportunity for us to step back and celebrate your amazing families and your special moments — your baby steps, birthdays and graduations. You are the reason we do what we do.
In the summer of 2015, after struggling for a year with misdiagnosed illnesses, Bridgette and her parents traveled from their Albany, New York, home to Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s. There, tests confirmed she had neuroblastoma, and while Bridgette started treatment, her parents, Roger and Beth, took turns driving 175 miles to take care of Bridgette’s 5-year-old sister Trinity and see other family members back home.
It was a difficult period, as Roger was taking time off from his job, and the family continued to pay rent on an empty Albany apartment, while expenses piled up in Boston.
“That was a hectic, crazy time,” recalls Roger. “Once we realized what we were facing with Bridgette’s cancer — including surgery — we looked around at the incredible people taking care of us here and decided to move and be here all the time.” …