CMN: With cancer, patient and nurse create unique bond - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

CMN: With cancer, patient and nurse create unique bond

Jamie Badillo, UMC Children's Miracle Network Miracle Child Jamie Badillo, UMC Children's Miracle Network Miracle Child
Jamie and her mom, Claudia (Source: KCBD video) Jamie and her mom, Claudia (Source: KCBD video)
Kevin, RN and Jamie's family (Source: KCBD) Kevin, RN and Jamie's family (Source: KCBD)

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a rare type of blood cancer that affects white blood cells. There are about 200,000 cases each year. 

Jamie is Claudia's two-year-old princess. The family lives in Hobbs, NM. Jamie is a toddler who's smile lights up a room. Her mother, Claudia DeSantiago describes her as "My baby" with a smile. 

For most families this young phase of life means every day is filled with giggles, bows, and puzzles. 

"September 19th....yes it was really really hard cause our whole lives changed," Claudia said.

Claudia remembers the long emotional journey they traveled from a hospital in Hobbs and the many appointments and tests it took to finally learn about the diagnosis. 

"She was 22 months...I remember she was really really sick. They diagnosed her with anemia or something. After that they said we have to come (to UMC in Lubbock)," Claudia said. "We came here and they did a lot of labs, and she was diagnosed with blood cancer, September 19th."

A six-letter word, that changed this little girl from Hobbs life's into a battle -- cancer -- a type called acute leukemia (ALL.)

For Claudia, it was really difficult because Jamie is so little. Claudia also has a 3-year-old daughter, Jamie's older sister. 

As the small family transitioned to frequent visits to UMC in Lubbock, there was a blessing in the battle. Kevin Strathman is a Pediatric nurse at UMC who really connected with the Spanish-speaking family despite the language barrier. Claudia considers Kevin their angel

"Its always difficult with cancer patients when they first get in, because you're getting poked a lot, you're getting a port placed, you don't know what's going on," Strathman said. 

Claudia remembers, on Jamie's first day at UMC, she was with different nurses and usually was crying with each. But that changed one day when she met Strathman.

Jamie turned two in November and was at the hospital, doing chemo treatments on her birthday. 

Kevin was off that day and he and his wife went to UMC and secretly decorated Jamie's hospital room with Frozen movie decorations and made her a birthday party. That is when both Strathman and Jaime began to form a strong bond.

"After that day... she told the nurses i was her boyfriend," Strathman said, "from then on she was la novia and I was la novio."

Mom loves the sweet relationship between her daughter's kind nurse and her family but was surprised to learn her two-year-old had a boyfriend.

"She said, 'my boyfriend, mom he's my boyfriend,' I said Jaime, because she's only two years," Claudia said.

"Its just been a sweet relationship to form with her," Strathman said. "Every time she's here she's my girl, I get defensive if other people work with her."

While they're still in the cancer battle, and the needles go in and the tears come out of Jamie, Claudia said, but because of UMC, her family is blessed.

"They treat me like family," she said. "My daughter feels comfortable with them because they love her."

Dr. Mohomad Al-Rahawan at UMC has been following Jamie's story since she arrived at the children's hospital.

"Acute leukemia cure rate has improved so much in the past few decades that Her prognosis is excellent. But she's still maintaining, despite the roughness of chemotherapy, and the first few months of being in the hospital, and having a couple complications....She still maintains her smile," Al-Rahawan said. "I am amazed by her mother who has been by her side every step of the way."

At each appointment and chemotherapy treatment, emotions run high as the uncertainty of the cancer's future goes on. But, she is confident that the success of the last few months, despite the hardships.

"I'm happy but... I'm scared," Claudia said. "I don't want to think like two months if the doctor said the cancer is back."

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