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Brooke's Story

Help from her sister. A life-saving gift from a 5-year-old to a 2-year-old.

Her preschool teacher noticed a rash on 2-year-old Brooke’s skin. Initially her parents, Chris and Heather, suspected chicken pox, but blood tests showed something potentially more serious.

She was sent to the cancer center at Children’s National, and further tests revealed she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rare and aggressive form of pediatric leukemia. Chemotherapy started immediately, but doctors said the best option was a bone marrow transplant.

Luckily, her 5-year-old sister Caitlin was a perfect match. With Caitlin’s consent, they went ahead with the procedure.

Heather recalls the wonder of watching one of her daughters heal the other. “It was just amazing to watch Caitlin’s bone marrow drip into Brooke’s body.”

A serious infection put Brooke in intensive care for eight days, but the staff at Children’s National provided the family continual moral support. “There was always a doctor who’d respond when we needed to talk to someone, to ask questions,” Heather said. “The nurses were amazing. Even the patient care technicians, the ones who change the bed linens and bring towels. … Everyone cared about my daughter like I care about my daughter.”

Now Brooke is cancer-free, and the bond between Caitlin is stronger than ever. The family is committed to raising awareness and funds for Children’s National, so other families with sick children have hope for recovery. “When your child is diagnosed with cancer, you enter a battle you didn’t pick,” Chris said. “Working with Children’s National gives us a chance to stay in that battle. We’re doing this so that kids now and in the future can survive like Brooke did.”