Janet Meyer couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Throughout the past year, her daughter Juliana had told her that she felt pain moving throughout her body. The 13-year-old girl had also lost 25 pounds from her already petite frame. After a series of misdiagnoses and worsening spinal pain, Janet brought Juliana to Children’s National for answers.
As soon as the Meyers arrived, Children’s physicians pushed for an MRI scan — something the family had never been encouraged to do before. On February 12, 2015, Juliana was officially diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer: stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the most severe form, which had spread throughout her bones and spine.
Though the diagnosis was a heavy blow to the family, they were immediately reassured by Anne Angiolillo, M.D., and her team that Juliana would see a full recovery. During the next nine days, Juliana stayed at the hospital under round-the-clock care by her family, oncologists, and staff. For Janet, Children’s became a place she could rely on to provide the right treatment for her young teenager. Children’s child life specialists also made sure Juliana could enjoy her favorite activities throughout chemotherapy treatment, such as art therapy and board games.
Juliana’s treatment plan included eight cycles of chemotherapy, which consisted of different drugs at different stages. “Juliana never, ever, ever complained, despite being treated for such an advanced stage cancer,” said Dr. Angiolillo.
“Children’s National is equipped to deal with the children, whether it’s the equipment or expertise in different diseases,” said Janet on what makes Children’s care stand apart. “I like the idea that Children’s is also a teaching hospital so they’re going to know the latest and greatest techniques for cures.”
Children’s care didn’t stop when Juliana was discharged from the hospital. Janet said she never felt unsure about how to transition to at-home care and was given all the tools she needed to address any issues Juliana experienced. “The three-ringed binder they gave me had instructions for everything I needed to do. The binder was a godsend,” said Janet. “Without it I would have been lost.”
Today, more than a year after her diagnosis, Juliana will start her first year of high school . Entering a year of new experiences in full recovery, Janet is beyond happy and grateful to see Juliana healthy and growing up stronger. Juliana has also expressed interest in becoming an oncology nurse or pediatrician. “Juliana is a special, strong, and beautiful person,” said fellow Marie Nelson, M.D.. “She has truly met every obstacle with a positive outlook and quiet, yet resilient courage.”
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At Children’s National Hospital, we provide compassionate, professional care to thousands of patients every year. Discover our patients' stories to understand their journey and see how it may relate to your own.