For Captain Patty, Swim Across America is Personal

Patty PiaseckiBy Patty Piasecki, BSN, MS, RN

Three years ago, the managing partner at Midwest Orthopaedics asked me to be the captain of the Rush and Midwest Orthopaedics team for the Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim.

Midwest Orthopaedics is an ongoing sponsor of the event, which has raised funds for cancer research at Rush since 2012. I am very familiar with the swimming community — my daughter Morgan graduated from Michigan State University and swam there for four years, as well as four years at Downers Grove North High School. During that time, I was at almost all of Morgan’s swim events. What’s more, I am a nurse practitioner in orthopedic oncology, so there was a logical connection.

It made sense for me to be involved with the Swim Across America Chicago event, but I’ll admit that I barely swim in a pool, let alone in Lake Michigan. But, of course, I became Captain Patty.

Luckily for me, the swim is a noncompetitive race — no triathlon clawing or scratching — and the half-mile swim parallels the beach, which means the water is shallow and makes the race doable for all skill levels. For those more proficient swimmers, you can swim up to three miles. It is way easier than any chemotherapy treatment, any radiation treatment, or any surgical procedure and rehabilitation that my cancer patients have gone through. We even have former cancer patients on the team. Continue reading

Couple Wed in Last Days Together

Marco Christina Wedding_05A surprise proposal, and then a wedding, in a cancer unit at Rush

Marco Contreras proposed to Cristina Tecanhuehue around 9 p.m. on June 25. She said yes, and they were married the following afternoon in a small, intimate ceremony.

It was a bittersweet moment for a young couple that had been dating for two years. Their wedding and all the preparations — even Contreras’ proposal — took place at Rush University Medical Center, where Tecanhuehue was being treated for cervical cancer.

On July 1, five days after the ceremony, the 28-year-old Tecanhuehue passed away. Her new husband was at her bedside, holding her hand.

“We had the wedding to comfort her and give her some closure and to give us some closure,” says Tecanhuehue’s uncle, Javier Torres.

He praised the Rush staff for making it possible. “This is the right profession for them, because they show compassion,” Torres said. “The quality of the organization and the people they have as staff has been a blessing for our family.”

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Samantha’s Story: ‘An Amazing, Healthy Daughter’

Samantha, age 6By Maria Dimond

On December 30, 2007, my husband Rich and I drove to Rush at 2 in the morning because I had a fever of 102. I was not quite 26 weeks pregnant, and I was barely showing. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be parents that day. It was just a fever.

However, it was a fever indicating that I might have a sick baby inside of me. Dr. Patricia Boatwright made the right decision to deliver, and it was confirmed that Samantha was a verysick baby. She had an infection and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush for 14 weeks.

The phrase “a deer in headlights” definitely described Rich and me. That parental bond took a very long time to develop for us. Initially we heard “Mom” or “Dad” and our first instinct was to look around for someone else.  We also called our daughter “baby” and had to force ourselves to call her Samantha. We enjoyed being around our baby and did everything asked of us while Samantha was in the NICU. But that deep bond just wasn’t there for these first-time parents. Not like now. I realize now how overwhelmed we were.

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Dolores’ Story: Treatment for a Brain Aneurysm

When Dolores Castillo learned she had an aneurysm in her carotid artery, she knew she had to do something about it. Soon.

She was referred to Demetrius Lopez, MD, a neuroendovascular surgeon at Rush.

“I felt totally comfortable with him, I liked his bedside manner, and ultimately he was the doctor that I chose,” she says. “He spent a lot of time with me and explained the procedure.”

Under the care of Lopes and the neuroendovascular team at Rush, she underwent a cerebral stenting procedure to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

“I think when you mention brain surgery, it sounds like a serious surgery, and it was,” she says. “But I’m doing everything that I did normally. I’m active, I do yoga, I run, and my recovery was a lot shorter than expected.”

As for her experience at Rush: “I felt like I was in a boutique hotel, and I was in downtown Chicago. It was really that good.”

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Maya’s Story

Maya Rain Arroyo came to Rush when she was just 5 years old after an accident caused her to almost lose her hip and leg. Monica Kogan, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Rush, operated on her, saving both. During her recovery, Maya worked closely with child life specialist Ginger Manzella, who helped comfort her with a special friend named Dr. Bear. “Ginger made me feel better because she brought Dr. Bear,” Maya says.

Seeing kids at Rush who couldn’t leave the hospital was an unforgettable experience for Maya, who is now 8. “To me, that meant they needed friends to play with and would like some dolls and toys to make friends with,” Maya explained. “Me and my friends were thinking about how we could help Rush … and help the kids. They’ve got to have a friend.”

So Maya and her friends decided to raise money for Rush’s Child Life Program. Last year they began selling polished rocks, and Maya sold her own art that she displayed in a local coffee shop in her Pilsen neighborhood. They’ve raised approximately $300.

Stroke Heroes

Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

By Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

May is American Stroke Month, and volunteers from the American Heart/American Stroke Association gathered at the state capital to recognize Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Robyn Gabel, and former Rep. Bob Biggins for their work to improve outcomes for stroke patients over the last five years. Stroke is the nation’s No. 4 killer and the No. 1 cause of severe disability.

Five years ago, Sen. Steans and Rep. Biggins, a stroke survivor, championed the groundbreaking Illinois Primary Stroke Center law of 2009. Since that time, 39 hospitals have been designated as Primary Stroke Centers, and five hospitals have been designated as Emergent Stroke Ready Hospitals, with many more waiting approval. These specifically designated stroke hospitals offer higher levels of stroke care, with strict national and/or state certification processes. EMS providers are directed to take stroke patients directly to these designated stroke centers, bypassing hospitals less able to provide high quality stroke care.

Sen. Steans and Rep. Gabel took the next step by introducing House Bill 5742, legislation that will keep stroke care moving in Illinois. This crucial legislation will allow Illinois to take full advantage of advances in technology, techniques, and standards of stroke care which have been developed since 2009, including:

  • Allowing the Illinois Department of Public Health to designate Comprehensive Stroke Centers, the highest level of stroke care available;
  • Align Emergent Stroke Ready Hospitals with National Acute Stroke Ready standards;
  • Facilitate the creation of an Illinois stroke data registry, a critical tool for continuing quality improvement.

In a press conference on May 22, as chair of the Illinois Advocacy Committee, I had the privilege of presenting Sen. Steans, Rep. Biggins and Rep. Gabel with Stroke Hero Awards. Shortly thereafter, I witnessed the almost unanimous approval of HB 5742 in the Senate. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

The Stroke Program at Rush has met the highest level certification standards by the American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. Recently, Rush was awarded the Gold Plus Performance Achievement by the American Stroke Association.

Bill’s Story: Cerebral Angioplasty After a Stroke

Bill Metcalf’s stroke came, like so many, “out of nowhere.”

“I had no symptoms for it, it was not on my general practitioner’s watch list, and fortunately I came out of it OK,” he says.

But over the next year, Metcalf experienced disorientation and a sense that “something wasn’t right.” Upon meeting with neurosurgeon Demetrius Lopes, MD, he opted to undergo a cerebral angioplasty to treat a narrowed artery in his brain.

“My family’s had way more experience with this hospital than any family should … and then I come in and do a cerebral angioplasty.”

“It’s like I think we’ve tested every department here, and without fail, Rush has always been 100 percent tops.”