At only five years old, Ryan Anderson began experiencing abdominal pain and discomfort. His mother, Tara noticed he was constantly going to the bathroom. While not uncommon for a child Ryan’s age, Tara became increasingly concerned when large amounts of blood began appearing in his stool.
Tara took Ryan directly to the family’s pediatrician, where initial testing failed to identify any underlying problems. Ryan was then referred to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC where gastroenterologists ran a series of tests to determine why the bleeding persisted.
In August 2009, Julie and Joe Duttine’s world came crashing down when their two-year-old son, Jaden, was diagnosed with metastatic neuroblastoma or stage four childhood cancer.
“Hearing those words ‘your child has cancer’ is the most indescribable feeling in the world,” says Julie.
Last winter, Nick Heisler had terribly swollen lymph nodes and tonsils. Captain of his Bethel Park High School wrestling team, Nick was constantly tired. Although he was nearly undefeated in his division, he couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that something was wrong.
When his symptoms worsened, Nick went to his family pediatrician where he was tested for strep throat and mononucleosis. Although the results came back negative, Nick’s parents Nancy and Richard were certain there was a problem.
After additional testing, Nick’s pediatrician called Nancy at work and explained they had found a malignancy.
As Ethan started to walk, and then eventually to run, he never showed any outward signs that the heart beating in his tiny chest harbored a congenital abnormality.
“Developmentally, Ethan was on schedule,” said his mother, Cindy. “He was very active and always running around. We never would have known there was a problem if it wasn’t for his pediatrician.”’s pediatrician called Nancy at work and explained they had found a malignancy.
Ryder’s mom sensed something was wrong with her son because he kept getting sick. When Ryder was diagnosed with a type of leukemia typically found in adults, his family knew he would have a rough journey ahead. From multiple rounds of chemotherapy that kept him in the hospital for months, to a risky cord blood stem cell transplant, Ryder kept on smiling, and his upbeat and resilient personality shined through.
David was struck by lightning. When his mother, Jenny, saw him at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, things looked bad - clear fluid was draining from his ears and he had no pulse. He also suffered significant hearing damage. Dr. David Mandell, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Children's, surgically repaired the torn membrane in both ears. The surgery succeeded beyond anyone's hope - David's cognitive faculties returned and so did his hearing.
“There's really no limits to how much he will recover,” says David’s mother, Jenny.
Diagnosed with a malignant tumor at age 15 months with little hope for a cure, Katie is the picture of health today, thanks to Children’s Hospital, where Katie’s doctors followed her surgery with chemotherapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
“We could not have received better care anywhere,” says Katie’s mother, Valerie.
Shanah’s heart failed when she was only 8. She may have died, her doctors at Children’s Hospital say, if not for an experimental, child-size artificial heart pump that kept her alive while awaiting a heart transplant.
“Now, I have to scold her for doing one-handed cartwheels,” says Shanah’s mother, Lori.
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