Three-year-old Marin Stober is a sweet, energetic girl who loves princesses and soccer—and nothing keeps her down for long.
So when she started limping in April, her parents immediately suspected something was wrong. But no one knew what was causing her walking difficulty—or the sporadic fevers, occasional vomiting, and low energy levels that Marin began to experience.
After exploring everything from a fracture to appendicitis to rheumatoid arthritis, Marin and her family came to the pediatric emergency department at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital for answers.
“They took it seriously right away,” said Julie Stober, Marin’s mother. “You could tell right away that they knew what they were doing. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
The Stober family was hopeful that Marin’s mysterious illness would turn out to be something minor. Julie was going through treatment for melanoma at the same time. What were the chances?
Unfortunately, Marin’s tests revealed that she had acute pre-B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). She received her diagnosis on May 24, 2018. Fortunately, Marin was right where she needed to be—with the Pediatric Cancer Care team at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital has one of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer care programs. Our team uses coordinated, evidence-based therapies, combined with a compassionate commitment to our patients and their families. Our Comprehensive Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic brings these specialists to you.
“We really follow the science, which contributes to our strong outcomes for children,” said Pediatric Oncologist Lucie Turcotte, MD, who oversees Marin’s treatment.
Supported by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota—a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center—our hospital offers a wider range of clinical trials than any other system in Minnesota. And the robust Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program is designed to keep children healthy long after their treatment concludes.
Marin’s treatment involves several phases, including weekly chemotherapy for six to seven months. Early in her care, Marin battled fevers that required her to be hospitalized—a common occurrence for patients receiving various kinds of chemotherapy treatments for ALL.
In July, Marin and her family were evaluated by our Comprehensive Pediatric Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic during a special wellness appointment. The clinic’s team brings together specialists from a wide range of disciplines, including pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric dental care, pediatric dermatology, pediatric psychology—plus dietitians, integrative health specialists, physical therapists and Child-Family Life Services specialists.
Families receive a series of coordinated consultations from key specialists in one place that help ensure optimal care. Consultation topics include everything from maintaining a healthy diet during treatment to strategies for preserving physical function.
“The family doesn’t have to schedule multiple appointments. It also allows all members of our care team to communicate face-to-face about each patient’s needs,” said Turcotte. “We can coordinate our responses to the unique challenges families face during treatment, or suggest resources that might meet a family’s individual needs.”
“There is so much that you don’t think of during treatment, and the comprehensive clinic brought all the resources to us,” said Julie Stober. “For example, we’re working with the integrative health program to provide supportive therapies, and we’re connecting with home-based early childhood education services so Marin won’t lose ground educationally while she’s going through treatment.”
Marin will soon be entering a particularly challenging treatment cycle, but after this initial six- to seventh-month treatment phase, she will move into maintenance therapy for the next two years. With no detectable disease, Marin is currently in remission.
“We’ve seen Marin get back to herself now that she’s not feeling so crummy, which is wonderful,” said Turcotte. “Now we can see the happy little girl that she was before she got sick.”
With Marin’s condition improving, the Stober family is looking forward to taking up all the family activities and adventures that were put on hold this year. No matter where their adventures take them, they remain grateful for the care they are receiving at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
“The providers—doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, child-family life specialists—they are a second family to us,” Julie said. “I’m amazed. They’re always so patient and kind. They never have a bad day. They’ve been supportive, forthcoming with information, and thoughtful about providing resources. They’ve been wonderful.”
The Stober family also appreciated the efforts the hospital made to accommodate Marin’s siblings.“Marin’s two older brothers Oliver and Lawson came to every single appointment with her this summer,” Julie said. “They were an integral part of our mental health and support system for Marin. Because the facilities and resources available at the hospital, they were able to be part of her treatments and hospitals stays, for which I will be forever grateful.”