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Reese Nicholson: A precautionary trip to the local urgent care facility changed a toddler’s life

Brian and Amy Nicholson, of Hewitt, Texas, thought their little girl, Reese, had a urinary tract infection or some type of virus because she had a low-grade fever and an aching side. The Nicholsons took their toddler to an Urgent Care Clinic, and caregivers there suspected appendicitis, and referred Reese to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center.

However, a computerized tomography (CT) scan at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest indicated that Reese had something far more serious.

"The doctor said, ‘You need to go to Scott & White tonight,’" says Mr. Nicholson. Hours later, the pediatric team at Scott & White diagnosed the affectionate little girl with Wilms’ tumor, a rare form of pediatric kidney cancer. Wilms’ tumor, also called nephroblastoma, accounts for only 6 percent of childhood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. It is very treatable and the survival rate is high, especially when diagnosed in its earliest stages. Reese’s lab tests indicated she had stage 2 cancer.

Scott & White’s pediatric expertise soon gave the Nicholsons peace of mind to navigate this disease for their daughter. Pediatric surgeon Danny Little, MD, performed an eight-hour surgery to remove the tumor and her right kidney, and inserted a chemotherapy port.

Pediatric oncologist Guy Grayson, MD submitted Reese’s histology report to the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), an international consortium of more than 500 institutions, including Scott & White. COG is dedicated to advancing pediatric cancer care through advanced treatment protocols linked to groundbreaking research efforts. The organization ensured that Reese’s treatment plan was the most innovative available, which included 18 weeks of chemotherapy and medications.

A care roadmap

"We had a thousand questions, but Scott & White gave us a roadmap to help us plan our lives the best we could," says Mr. Nicholson, an associate vice president of facilities, planning, and construction at Baylor University.

Like her parents, Reese and her older sister, Brooke, were inquisitive. Child Life specialist Jenny Damron used play therapy and age-appropriate materials to help the girls understand cancer and prepare for the surgery. She also gave a special talk to Reese’s three-year-old preschool class. The results of every blood test, scan, and chemotherapy treatment were maintained in Scott & White’s electronic medical records system so that all of the specialists involved could easily and confidentially access updates on her progress. "It was very important to us that all of Reese’s doctors were talking to one another to coordinate her care. If more hospitals adopted the Scott & White model, we’d all be better off," says Mrs. Nicholson.

This past spring, Reese completed chemotherapy and received a positive prognosis. The Nicholsons are grateful for the care their daughter received, and often return to Scott & White so Reese’s doctors can keep a close watch on the little girl.

"The pediatric team at Scott & White gave us hope. The medical process has a whole new meaning, and we don’t take it for granted," says Mr. Nicholson.