When an energetic child has three brothers and a sister to play with, it's not unusual for her to get a few bumps and bruises.
|Precious Hanley, shown here with her father Travell and oncologist Dr. Judith Sato, has a smile that inspires patients and caregivers alike. Travell is wearing a bead necklace Precious made to support the fight against pediatric cancer.|
"We noticed her limping a bit, but we weren't too concerned," Travell Hanley recalls. But before long, six-year-old Precious wasn't limping, but "dragging her leg behind her." That's when Travell and his wife, Chemnia, took their daughter to the doctor.
Their story is proof not only of the quality medical care your support of City of Hope makes possible, but also that you help make City of Hope a warm, welcoming place for adults and children alike.
Precious Hanley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. About half of all osteosarcomas occur around the knees, and that’s just what was happening to Precious: A cancerous tumor was affecting her ability to walk.
Precious' treatment began right away at another hospital in the L.A. area. The quality of care was good enough, Travell says, but he and Chemnia weren't satisfied. For one thing, they found the hospital unfriendly and crowded. But there was a more fundamental problem, too.
"You could tell [the other hospital] didn't really cater to children," he explains. "It wasn't a very kid-friendly place."
Before long, doctors at that hospital decided they’d done all they could for Precious, and referred her to a specialist in Baldwin Park. Since Precious and her family live in Lancaster, that made for a commute that was too long and too expensive for the family to handle. They began to search for another solution.
Chemina’s sister-in-law suggested City of Hope, so the family decided to pay us a visit. The difference, Travell says, was like night and day. "From day one, City of Hope was completely different," Travell says. “City of Hope is warm and very kid-friendly.”
In fact, Precious flourished in our positive surroundings. Travell has a simple comparison any parent will appreciate: "At the other hospital, Precious threw up a lot during her treatment. Since we came to City of Hope, she hasn't thrown up once."
"The bionic child"
According to the American Cancer society, about 2,500 people per year in the United States are diagnosed with bone cancers. Your support has allowed City of Hope to become a pioneer in the development and use of novel surgical and reconstructive therapies to beat these cancers while saving the affected joint or bone.
Precious' condition required the removal of her knee and its replacement with an internal prosthesis. In addition to ongoing chemotherapy, Precious works with a City of Hope physical therapist to get her used to her new knee.
As she grows, Travell explains, City of Hope technicians will use a magnet to adjust the spring inside her prosthetic knee. No further surgery will be needed until she is about 15, when her prosthesis will be replaced with an adult-sized model.
"I call her my bionic child," Travell laughs.
Chemo and surgery could be frightening for any child, but Precious' spirits never faded. In fact, her dad says, Precious' room at City of Hope became "the go-to place" for nurses and staff members.
"They would come just to hang out with her, or ask her if she could go talk to kids, even teenagers, who needed encouragement." Precious is everyone’s friend, he adds, and everyone knows her name.
Kid-friendly City of Hope has helped Precious another way, too. Working with experts in our Child Life Program, she has been taking home-study courses. Not only is she keeping up with her schoolmates, Travell says proudly, she's getting good grades and still has time to make bead necklaces to sell to friends.
Precious’ influence even reaches outside City of Hope: Her aunt, Chemina’s sister, was recently in a serious car accident and had been undergoing physical therapy to hep heal a badly injured leg. Precious actively encouraged her aunt to continue the rehabilitation.
“Precious is my inspiration,” her aunt says. “She helped me walk.”
Today, Precious has no sign of cancer and is quickly adapting to her prosthetic knee. Thanks to your support of City of Hope, her future is as bright and inspiring as her beautiful smile.
It's no accident City of Hope is "kid-friendly." It's all part of our commitment to compassionate, respectful care for the whole person. Thank you for helping us reflect your concern for children fighting cancer through your generous partnership.