A Job Well Done | Cole, Aptos
By Theresa Johnston
Visit the Rossi home in Aptos and you’re likely to hear the steady thump-thump-thump of drums coming through the front door. Thirteen-year-old Cole Rossi, a seventh grader at Aptos Junior High School, has just started percussion lessons. “It’s a little loud at our house!” his mother, Linda, says with a laugh.
Six years ago the family was considerably more downbeat. Cole had had a rough infancy complicated by problems with his adrenal glands. Then one day while on a family trip to Mexico, he began vomiting uncontrollably. The Rossis rushed home, and a subsequent CT scan at Packard Children’s Hospital led to a frightening diagnosis: Cole had a golf-ball-sized tumor in the middle of his head that was causing a dangerous buildup of fluid in his brain.
At first pediatric neurosurgeons said an operation was out of the question—too risky. But when radiation failed to shrink the mass, Paul Fisher, MD, chief of child neurology, convinced his colleagues to operate anyway. Michael Edwards, MD, and Stephen Huhn, MD, scrubbed up and set to work. Eight intense hours later they came back with the best possible news: They had been able to remove one hundred percent of the tumor.
Looking back, Linda marvels at the care and concern lavished on her family. “Whether it was the nurses or the radiologists or the surgeons, they all went out of their way to alleviate our fears,” she says. “Dr. Fisher even gave me his personal cell phone number to call any time I needed. It was comforting to know he was just a phone call away.”
Linda also is grateful for the services of Packard’s innovative HEAL program—short for Hospital Educational Advocacy Liaisons. Not long after Cole’s operation, coordinator Jeanne Kane helped set up an Individualized Education Program at Cole’s elementary school to keep him on track academically. More recently, Kane assisted the family with the transition to junior high. Among her creative suggestions: Let Cole take a study skills class instead of PE, and have him take up after-school sports—martial arts, for now.
Like many thankful parents, Linda and her husband, David, wanted to give something back to Packard Children’s Hospital. Their chosen avenue was the Circles of Leadership annual giving program. As Linda explains, “We were really impressed with the Hospital’s level of care and the level of compassion.”
And what would Cole tell other kids about Packard Children’s Hospital? “I’d just say that the doctors and nurses are really nice and they want you to get well soon, so don’t worry. They’ll do their job.”