Golisano Patient Stories

Antoine Aiken

When Antoine Aiken was in 6th grade, he started getting sick all of the time, was losing weight at an alarming rate and he slept all day long....his once vibrant spirit and active lifestyle was becoming nonexistent. His family brought him to Golisano Children's Hospital. There they did a cat scan and found a tumor growing between his ribs. In that moment, their world changed. “We were devastated, but the kindness we received from the moment we were informed is unmeasurable,” says his mother. Antoine was admitted to the hospital and had a spinal tap and biopsy. It was then they were told he had ALCL, a form of lymphoma, and he needed to spend one week a month in the hospital receiving large doses of chemo. “I can remember the nurses hugging me when I was crying, treating Antoine like an old friend. They were WONDERFUL and became part of our family while we stayed there,” recalls Antoine’s mother. “The doctors were upfront, kind and always had a listening ear. I never once felt rushed.” Antoine’s strength during treatment was inspiring. “Not once did he complain or cry. He laughed, he cracked jokes, and he went through his treatment like a champ.” In 2017, Antoine completed treatment. “And he smiles again....that's the best part for us,” says his mom. And now that he’s well, Antoine has a plan. He wants to be a lawyer and an NBA player - preferably for the Bulls. And thanks to Golisano Children’s Hospital, his dreams can come true.


Benjamin Headley

For the first week of his life, Benjamin Headley was a normal baby. Then, one night he stopped breathing and appeared to have a seizure. Initially, Benjamin settled down, but in the morning, the same symptoms returned. “That’s when we took him to the hospital,” Jennifer says. A series of tests did not reveal anything unusual. Medical staff decided to run an ultrasound, which revealed the problem: Benjamin had a blood clot attached to the left side of his heart. “Benjamin’s case is extremely rare,” says pediatric cardiologist Eric Eason, D.O. He had what is called an ALTE (apparent life threatening event), where the baby stops breathing or moving. ALTE’s occur at a rate of about .6 per 1,000 births. “Testing to evaluate this event discovered the thrombus.” An atrial thrombus is a blood clot that is within the heart. “Despite numerous blood tests, we do not understand why he developed the thrombus,” Dr. Eason says. “Were it to dislodge and travel to another part of the body, it could have damaged vital organs.” Benjamin was transferred to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for surgery, but returned to Golisano Children’s Hospital for follow-up care. “He is developing normally now,” Jennifer says. “For the first year of his life he will have to see several specialists—a hematologist, neurologist and nephrologist—but Dr. Eason thinks he will be fine. We were fortunate to have such a calm, understanding doctor because he talks to us in a way that we understand.”


Avery McCaskill

Avery McCaskill was born in 2009. Her childhood was “normal” until 2013 when her parents began to notice subtle clues that something was not right - bruising on Avery as well as unusual behavior. At church one morning, instead of going into her class, Avery asked to stay with her mom. “I thought it was a little strange because she was always so full of energy and loved going to her class, but I kept her with me and she slept on me the entire service,” said Sondra McCaskill. They quickly took her to the ER and in less than an hour the family received the devastating news. Avery was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer that invades the blood fairly quickly and can spread to other parts of the body. The term “acute” means that the leukemia can progress quickly and if not treated can be fatal within a few months. Avery was transported to Golisano Children’s Hospital to begin chemotherapy. She underwent two and a half years of treatment which included several blood and platelet transfusions, countless outpatient visits for chemotherapy, and numerous hospitalizations for chemo side effects. Avery finished chemotherapy in 2015 and had her port removed. “Although the diagnosis was given, Avery did not change who she was. Her strength and courage brought us to tears on many occasions. Avery has taught us all not to take one minute for granted, and to love more and more each day,” McCaskill said.


RCC Patient Stories

Christy Cantrell

Christy Cantrell was on a family vacation when she recognized a change in her breast. She returned home and shared the news with one of her closest friends. “She told me not to ignore it and she made me call my doctor right then and there,” Christy shares. “Days later, following a mammogram, ultrasound, lab work and two biopsies, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 43. I was shocked.” Through the Regional Cancer Center, Christy met a caring team, including a breast cancer navigator—a nurse who is specially trained to help patients with everything from understanding a diagnosis to filling out insurance forms. Christy also attended the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic, which brings specialists together in one place, in one visit, to develop a treatment plan. The clinic includes one-on-one assessments with the medical oncologist, surgeon and the radiation oncologist. Following these appointments, the patient and family are treated to lunch while the medical team meets to discuss the case in a round-table tumor board. Following the mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, Christy started working through the Cancer Rehabilitation Program, which connected her with physical therapy and acupuncture to help with her pain. Through this program, she also plans to work with a nutritionist following her hysterectomy and breast reconstruction. As Christy hits the one-year mark of her diagnosis, her advice to women is to perform the breast self-exams and get the appropriate screenings; and if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, let people help you, stay positive and make every day count.


Eric Babon

Although he has a family history of prostate cancer, Bonita Springs resident Eric Babon, 46, was not worried that he would necessarily inherit the disease. Nevertheless, he began routine screenings at the age of 40 with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. “I had nothing at all,” Eric says. Then, at age 43, he was tested again and this time the PSA test indicated elevated levels of the antigen. He made an appointment with urologist Omar Benitez, M.D., who performed a biopsy. The diagnosis: Eric had prostate cancer. “I was floored,” he says. “My first thought was that I wanted to get in and remove it.” Dr. Benitez removed Eric’s prostate using state-of-the-art da Vinci robotic surgery. The da Vinci robot allows physicians to make small, targeted in cisions that reduce the need for large scars, and can lead to a quicker recovery. “When I see cancer in someone in their 30s or 40s, it is more likely to be more aggressive than in someone who is older. It’s important to address it immediately and not ignore it.” Men should be screened with a PSA test beginning at age 55, unless they have a family history of the disease. After a 2-day hospital stay, he was on his way home. He returned to work three weeks later and has had a clean bill of health since his surgery. “I get my PSA checked every three months but I’m healthy,” he says. “I healed very quickly and I’m here for my family.”


Shipley Patient Story

Stuart Mishlove

When Antoine Aiken was in 6th grade, he started getting sick all of the time, was losing weight at an alarming rate and he slept all day long....his once vibrant spirit and active lifestyle was becoming nonexistent. His family brought him to Golisano Children's Hospital. There they did a cat scan and found a tumor growing between his ribs. In that moment, their world changed. “We were devastated, but the kindness we received from the moment we were informed is unmeasurable,” says his mother. Antoine was admitted to the hospital and had a spinal tap and biopsy. It was then they were told he had ALCL, a form of lymphoma, and he needed to spend one week a month in the hospital receiving large doses of chemo. “I can remember the nurses hugging me when I was crying, treating Antoine like an old friend. They were WONDERFUL and became part of our family while we stayed there,” recalls Antoine’s mother. “The doctors were upfront, kind and always had a listening ear. I never once felt rushed.” Antoine’s strength during treatment was inspiring. “Not once did he complain or cry. He laughed, he cracked jokes, and he went through his treatment like a champ.” In 2017, Antoine completed treatment. “And he smiles again....that's the best part for us,” says his mom. And now that he’s well, Antoine has a plan. He wants to be a lawyer and an NBA player - preferably for the Bulls. And thanks to Golisano Children’s Hospital, his dreams can come true.