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Meet Natalie, Age 14
Right before Natalie’s seventh grade year, she faced a tough time with strep throat – or at least what they thought was strep throat. No medicine seemed to work.
Before they knew it, Natalie and her mom Eileen were at the emergency room getting blood work and other diagnostic tests done. During a chest X-ray, Natalie passed out and rushed to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
By the time they reached Baltimore, Natalie’s blood platelets dropped from 18,000 to 10,000. Teresa York, MD, and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Team quickly got to the bottom of the issue. Natalie had leukemia, and she needed chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer.
“Dr. York was wonderful – our journey started at the right place,” Eileen says. “That practice is just phenomenal.” Dr. York sat down with Natalie several times and had open conversations with her, especially when Eileen asked her to give Natalie the true reality of her illness.
“While it’s important to treat the physical and biological aspect of cancer, we also make sure the emotional and social needs of our patients are taken care of,” Dr. York says. “It’s hard for a child to get healthy if we only focus on the cancer and forget they are still a kid, too.”
For the first nine months, Natalie and her family were in the hospital for 120 days after experiencing several side effects from the chemotherapy. “I asked a lot of questions,” Eileen says. “They involved me in her care above and beyond.”
Natalie is undecided in what career she would like to pursue with her newfound health, but is ready to take on the challenges of high school – including new sports like field hockey.