Cecilia was 1 year old when her parents noticed she was struggling to walk, and had bruising on her body.
Her mother took her for an X-ray, and the doctor recommended a blood test, “just in case.” They were called back before they even got home: Cecilia had leukemia.
She was sent to Denver, to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. Cecilia’s life became a parade of chemotherapy treatments, spinal taps and transfusions. She spent her second birthday in the hospital with an infection. But her mother Katie said they held on to hope, knowing Cecilia was getting the best care.
“Before Cecilia was diagnosed with leukemia, we had the sense that all doctors are the same,” Katie said. “But we quickly realized that the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital Colorado are true experts in what they do — especially when it comes to kids, because children are so different from adults.”
Because they live in southern Colorado, Cecilia’s family often had to travel hours for her appointments at Children’s in Denver. Every time she was hospitalized, they were away from home for days at a time. But this year the new Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs opened to offer expert pediatric care close to home for kids like Cecilia.
Now 4 years old, Cecilia is a Patient Ambassador for Children’s Hospital Colorado. After two and a half years of chemotherapy, her cancer remains in remission.
Children’s Hospital Colorado is the only nonprofit pediatric hospital serving about 230,000 kids a year in a seven-state region, said Erin Bodine, “so we are truly the place that serves kids and only kids, with all of their health care needs.”
Bodine is senior marketing communications manager for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, which supports the hospital in its mission.
“We have been a nonprofit since our inception over 100 years ago, so donations from the community are really what allow us to do what we do, whether that’s individuals supporting us or whether it’s companies in the community,” she said. “With the new hospital in Colorado Springs, the corporate community is really stepping up and helping support everything that we do. It’s truly a community effort and partnership to be able to provide all of these services and world class care. Our support from the community provides the ability to treat every child who needs us.”
Many of the services Children’s provides aren’t covered by insurance, Bodine said, “so we’re there to not only help fill in those gaps, but also push forward research… . We believe support from the community makes extraordinary outcomes for kids possible. We are breaking new ground, discovering cures and pushing children’s health care forward. … A lot of national funding is starting to go down for things like research and innovation — so we truly rely on the community to get behind some of these breakthroughs.”
Community support also means Children’s can provide care for the whole family — whether that’s during major medical emergencies or daily care — so that kids can have the best outcomes. Bodine pointed out most services that help family members aren’t covered by insurance, but counselors, Child Life Services and special support programs help them support the child.
“We really hope people in the Pikes Peak region are inspired to see the kind of care that we provide children — not only that they are able to use that care now in Colorado Springs with our new hospital, but also that they truly see the difference that we make in children’s and families’ lives,” Bodine said.
“We’re all kind of in this together. … We’re surrounded by people who use the hospital and need its services, and we’re surrounded by the people whose life’s work it is to help heal these kids. So it’s pretty amazing to be a part of that community — and when people give, that’s what they’re they’re giving towards.”