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Caring for Children Close to Home

Reese NicholsonAt the age of 3, Reese Austyn Nicholson was diagnosed with a rare type of pediatric kidney cancer known as Wilm’s Tumor, or nephroblastoma, which accounts for only six percent of childhood cancers. The tumor required eight hours of surgery and 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

Most children’s hospitals are found in large, urban areas. However, Temple, Texas is one of the smallest communities in the nation to have a free-standing children’s hospital. At the time of Reese’s diagnosis, McLane Children’s had not yet opened. Reese was one of the first patients to be treated at the new facility.

“Most families who enter McLane Children’s never expect to be there,” Reese’s mother says, “but once you are in our shoes you are incredible thankful that this hospital is available right in our backyard. It was truly a gift for us to not have to be separated as a family for long periods of time during Reese’s hospital stays and treatments. A life-threatening illness is already stressful enough, so to be able to stay together as much as possible during that time was a blessing.

Reese Nicholson at age 3Children undergoing diagnostic tests,  major surgery and difficult treatments like chemotherapy at such a young age can experience a great deal of anxiety, which only adds to the stress on their bodies. “But, we noticed a big change in Reese’s anxiety level when she was able to start having her regular testing and check-ups at McLane Children’s,” her mother says. Child life specialists helped Reese, her sister and even her preschool classmates understand what was happening through play therapy. The team of caregivers, child life specialists and the family-friendly environment at McLane Children’s helped Reese not only heal, but thrive.