Comeback Kids – Part 2

Catherine Pegram

Updated 1 year ago

No parent ever plans for their kids to get sick, break a bone or be diagnosed with cancer. But when it happens, they turn to doctors, nurses and technology to help their child heal. Sometimes it also takes a kid with a lot of fight – a Comeback Kid. Every two or three weeks for more than four years, Maggie Rudnicki has gone to the hospital for a life-saving blood transfusion. She was born with a rare disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Her bone marrow doesn’t make the red blood cells her body needs to survive. Maggie’s mom, Lauren Rudnicki, says, “She loves doing everything every normal kid loves to do. So unless you know about her illness, you would never know there’s anything wrong with her.” Lauren says the first year of dealing with her daughter’s health was definitely difficult. And now. “It’s not a big a deal for her to have to go to the hospital, get a blood transfusion. it’s just a normal part of her life. She enjoys going to the hospital – we try to make it really fun. So really, honestly, for us it’s very normal.” “Crab walk, crab walk” For 11-year-old Alexa Jarvis, the hospital has become her second home this past year – one she’ll be happy to leave behind soon. Doctors told her last Veteran’s Day she had osteosarcoma in her leg – bone cancer. Her father, Dr. Jim Jarvis, says, “When she was diagnosed that day, she played three hours of soccer that morning. She was the goalie of her soccer team and I have no doubt in my mind she’ll be the goalie of her soccer team again.” Since then, Alexa’s had chemotherapy and surgery to replace the bone with a titanium rod, much like a golf club. “So you’re saying I could golf with my leg? Maybe! Whack!” Alexa and Maggie are certainly strong kids. But they couldn’t keep up their fight without the help of the Children’s Miracle Network, which began 25 years ago this month.It started as a support system for the pediatric programs at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Josh Scroggins, Director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of EMHS, says, “Now we support the seven hospitals that are part of the EMH system and it’s grown to a program where we’re able to raise over $500,000 on an annual basis and to help those hospitals.”In the last 25 years, that’s translated to about $7 million, which is used to buy medical equipment, among other things. The goal is to keep kids who need even the most specialized medical attention as close to home as possible, helping them heal even faster. The Jarvis’s say it’s working for their daughter, who’s expected to wrap up her treatment at EMMC this month. They also say she wouldn’t have come this far without her incredible attitude. Diane Jarvis says, “The more you tell her she can’t do something, I think her resolve is she’s going to prove you wrong and do it.” Maggie’s battle isn’t over yet, either, but her family believes she has enough fight to last a lifetime. “Her strength amazes me every single day. As parents we could not be more proud of her. She’s an amazing little girl.”A bone marrow transplant could cure Maggie of her blood disorder and her parents say that’s probably in her future. As for CMN, a number of activities will be planned throughout the year to mark the organization’s 25th anniversary. To find out more about CMN, log on to http://emhsfoundation.org/cmnsplash.aspx.


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